No matter who you are, you have probably experienced days where nothing seems to go right. For adults, learning how to overcome and cope with these negative times is a skill that is learned through years of experience. However, kids who face setbacks, disappointment, and frustration for the first time may benefit from positivity activities to get through the tougher days. Here, we’ll talk about what positivity is for kids, why it’s important, and some examples of activities you can do together for a more positive outlook and attitude.
Defining Positivity in Kids
Positivity comes from positive thinking, which is a mental attitude that looks at situations in a constructive way. Positivity in kids means being able to acknowledge a situation and looking at it productively. This does not mean completely ignoring the negative side of things but choosing to look at the positive side of things instead.
The Importance of Teaching Positivity to Kids
Positive thinking is important for kids because it makes children more resilient, even when facing negative circumstances. It also allows kids to open their minds and broaden their sense of possibilities. This is possible thanks to the neuroplasticity of the brain, which means that the brain can recognize and form new connections, including positive ones that can improve emotional resilience and brain health [*]. Training the brain through positive mindset activities can teach your child to respond to emotions and situations in a healthier manner.
It is easy to spend our time thinking about the negative things in our lives, including the things that have gone wrong. This can lead to excessive worrying and stress. Positive thinking is important because it teaches your child how to appreciate the good things in their life. It helps keep things in perspective, which in turn promotes happiness and well-being.
Benefits of Teaching Positivity to Kids
There are several benefits of teaching positivity to kids through positive attitude activities. These include but are not limited to the following:
- Improved psychological and physical well-being
- Reduced rates of depression
- Reduced levels of pain and distress
- Better resistance to illnesses
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Better coping skills during times of hardship or stress
- Longer life span
- Reduced risk of infections, cancers, and respiratory conditions
15 Activities to Help Kids Develop a Positive Attitude
Developing a positive attitude is best done with fun and engaging activities that will really reinforce the lesson. Here are 15 best positivity activities for kids:
1. Positive mantras
Positive mantras can help you develop a positive outlook. Positive mantras are words, phrases, or affirmations that can be said during meditation or other activities to stop negative thoughts in their tracks. You can fill up a journal with your child to encourage positive thinking and repeat the mantras when they encounter negative thoughts, especially if those thoughts are about themselves. This is a great activity for kids aged 6 and up.
2. Eliminate “but”
Our words can have a strong impact on how positively or negatively we view the world. The word “but” is one such example that can often reduce the good energy that can come after positive talk. Instead of saying something like, “I made this drawing, but it’s not very good,” encourage your child to stop before saying “but.” This will promote more positive statements about themselves and their accomplishments. Try this activity with your child if they are 5 years of age or older.
3. Loving-kindness meditation
Loving-kindness meditation is a type of meditation where kids can think of loved ones and send them positive thoughts. Later on, your child can extend their positive thoughts to more neutral people in their lives, such as classmates. Teach your child to say this phrase while thinking of a loved one: “May you feel safe. May you feel happy. May you feel healthy. May you live with ease.” This helps generate feelings of warmth and kindness, which leads to more feelings of positivity as well. This can be done with kids as young as 4 years old.
4. Helping others
Helping others is not only beneficial to others but can also generate feelings of positivity for your child. Studies have found that people who volunteer and help out are more likely to be satisfied with their lives and have better health [*]. Helping others also creates a sense of community, belonging, and gratitude, all of which can lead to more positive emotions. Children as young as 4 years of age can also do this activity by simply helping you or their sibling around the house or while you run errands.
5. Encouraging words
Saying encouraging words every day can help create a more positive environment for you and your child. You can hang up a piece of wall art with positivity statements to remind you and your child to share encouraging words daily. This can help shift a child’s perspective when they are focusing on negative thoughts. You can start doing this activity with children as young as 4 years old. Your wall art can be read by kids aged 6 and up.
6. Quote books
Sharing quotes is also an effective exercise to help your child be more positive. Creating quote books together can help surround kids with positivity. Every week or month, choose a positive quote to share with your kids. Have them write it down and discuss it together as a class or during family time. Over time, your kids can build their own collection of positive and encouraging thoughts that can help them during difficult times. This is great for kids aged 8 and up.
7. Success of the day
One simple exercise that is fun for kids is talking about the Success of the Day. Gather the family or your class (if you are at school) around and talk about each person’s success of the day. It can be any accomplishment, big or small. After sharing, have your child write it down in a simple notebook to keep track of their successes. Gradually, they’ll look forward to finding some form of success in everyday routines, which results in feeling more optimistic overall. This activity is suitable for children aged 6 and up.
8. Awe journal
Another way to encourage positivity is by starting an Awe Journal. Together with your child, write down moments from your daily life that you find beautiful or extraordinary. Maybe it’s seeing a double rainbow or doing a kind act. Record them in a journal using words or drawings. This Awe Journal will help your child recognize what is beautiful in their life, which helps them form a more positive outlook on the world. Children aged 5 and up can work on their Awe Journal together with a parent, guardian, or teacher.
9. Compliment circles
One of the best activities for positive thinking is the compliment circle. This can be done in class or at home. Gather everybody together and simply exchange compliments with the next person. After a person has received a compliment, they will sit down and cross their legs to show they have already gotten one and to ensure everybody gets a turn. This exercise can be done with kids aged 4 years old and up.
10. Positive affirmations
Positive affirmations are positive statements that kids can repeat to themselves. Not only do they help promote positive thinking, but they are also effective at changing negative self-talk and increasing self-esteem. Try filling up a positive affirmations worksheet together with your child and keeping it somewhere they can always see and refer back to when they need it. The more your child says their affirmations, the more they will come to believe them and increase positive thinking. This is great for children aged 7 and up.
11. What others see in me
This simple activity can be done by children as young as 5 years old. Challenge your child to record every positive thing that happens or is said to them throughout the day. They will see just how much positivity is in their life through this exercise.
12. Thought filter
An excellent positive thinking exercise is the “thought filter.” You can have your kids visualize that there is a filter between their thoughts and the things that they say. This filter catches all the negative thoughts and replaces them with positive thoughts, words, and actions. This allows them to be more aware of their thoughts and how they choose to express them. This is a great exercise for kids aged 6 and up.
13. Using the power of “yet”
It can be frustrating for kids to try and fail at something, and sometimes, they may think that they’ll never succeed. To change this line of thinking into a more positive light, emphasize the power of the word “yet” to your kids. They may not get the hang of something yet, which shows them that it is still possible to master the skill they want one day. This can be done with kids aged 5 and up.
14. Goal setting
Goal setting is one way for kids to become more optimistic and positive. You can try using the WOOP strategy, which involves the following steps:
- Wish. Ask your child to think of something they wish they could accomplish.
- Outcome. Help your child visualize the outcome that they would like to achieve. What would accomplishing this goal look and feel like?
- Obstacle. Goal setting should still be realistic, so help your child create a list of possible obstacles that may prevent them from reaching their goal.
- Plan. Finally, come up with a plan that can address those obstacles if or when they occur.
Having concrete steps laid out this way can help your child feel more optimistic about reaching their goals. Try this with children who are 9 years of age or older.
15. Instead of
It can be challenging for anybody to turn negative thoughts into positive ones during difficult situations. During a peaceful time at home or in the classroom, fill up a worksheet on changing negative thoughts to positive thoughts with your kids. This can act as a reminder of how to stay positive despite the negative things happening. Try this with kids aged 5 and up.
The Bottom Line
Finding the positive side of things can be challenging, especially when you’re confronted with negativity. But just like any muscle, you can work on strengthening it with the right exercises and activities. Try out these positive thinking exercises and see how much more optimistic and positive your kids can be. Our character education posters can also help you improve your children’s positive outlook through things like gratitude and optimism.
- Shaffer J. Neuroplasticity and Clinical Practice: Building Brain Power for Health. 26 July 2016.
- Lawton R, Gramatki I, Watt W, et al. Does Volunteering Make Us Happier, or Are Happier People More Likely to Volunteer? Addressing the Problem of Reverse Causality When Estimating the Wellbeing Impacts of Volunteering. 17 March 2020.