Five Tips to Turn Around Negative Thoughts

Posted by Billie Pavicic, Boys Town Press Author on Jan 28th 2019

Have you ever started off the day with positive intentions only to find your mood spiraling downwards as life seemingly throws all sorts of obstacles your way?

Last week, I was rushing to drop off my oldest child to an event. The event was about 45 minutes away not counting the awful traffic that is the norm in our area. When traffic finally broke, I managed to pick up speed only to be pulled over by a state trooper. It seemed we were destined to be late no matter what I did. The day had barely begun and I was already feeling like a failure.

We’ve all been there, whether its work, school, family responsibilities, or the occasional unforeseen life event that throws a wrench in your day. Bad days happen to everyone. It can be easy to wallow in self-pity or ask the proverbial “Why me?” But knowing what to do when faced with life’s letdowns can make a huge difference in how we cope and move forward.

Studies have confirmed that individuals remember negative events more vividly than positive ones. It is therefore easier to fixate on one bad experience in the day while forgetting about all of the good.

Disappointments happen and children are not immune. Whether it’s failing a test, not being accepted by peers, or losing a sporting event, negative thoughts can creep in and multiply quickly. So how do you help your children bounce back from a bad day and turn off those negative thoughts? Below are five helpful tips:

1. Take Control of your attitude. Teach children that their attitude is a choice. Choose to focus on the positives instead of the negatives. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

2. Brainstorm solutions. Brainstorming solutions not only empowers children but helps them to learn from their mistakes. Instead of saying “Why me?” ask the question “What can I do differently next time?” The shift in thinking can mean the difference between a kid who gives up and one who not only bounces back from hardship, but grows from it.

3. Don’t make mountains out of molehills. Take a second look at a disappointing situation. Was it really that bad? Remind children that it’s natural to feel like our problems are bigger than they really are and help them to take a more realistic view of the situation. They might find that things aren’t as terrible as they seem.

4. Squash those negative thoughts! One negative thought can quickly grow into a monster. Teach children that they can stop it before it starts. Practice squashing negative thoughts. When you notice a negative thought, tell the thought to go away, stop, or remind yourself that it’s not true. Get creative and visualize the negative thought popping like a balloon or being squashed like bug.

5. Have a positive squad. Remind children that they don’t have to deal with their problems on their own. Identify a group of positive friends, family, and mentors who will be there to listen and help them process disappointing events. The simple of act of venting to someone who cares can be very therapeutic.

Disappointing events are unavoidable, but making use of one or more of these tips can help kids take control of their negative thoughts.

Check out Parker Plum and the Rotten Egg Thoughts for more ideas on building a positive mindset. 

Learn more about Billie Pavicic.