ENCOURAGING A POSITIVE ATTITUDE WITH WHOLE BODY LEARNING
by Janai Mestrovich, M.S. Aka Grandma Boom
She looked up with distraught eyes, murmuring, “I don't know how to color my bad thoughts. I can't do it.” She felt discouraged and was stuck.
I got on my knees at her level and responded, already having grabbed some crayons to hold in my hands. “Hmmmm....I bet you could pick out colors that you FEEL when you say you can't do something which is one kind of bad thought.”
She looked at the colors and immediately picked out brown and a dark green that she said would mix together and feel yucky. I congratulated her on solving the problem and CHANGING HER THOUGHTS to good thoughts and taking action. Then I proceeded to ask her, “Do you feel better now?” She nodded her head and smiled.
Next, I asked her to pick out colors that felt like her thoughts when she feels good about what she is thinking. Her little hands reached for yellow and pink. Now she was ready to color her artwork depicting what negative thoughts look like inside her head as well as the positive ones.
When she finished, she was quite pleased with her artwork and came to show me. Another child brought his paper to me at the same time. This led to a great discussion between the two of them how their bad thoughts both looked yucky and the good thoughts looked happy.....just with different colors.
It was a moment of unity in diversity. I told them they both used their SUPERKID POWER changing bad thoughts to good ones and coloring them.
I encouraged all the children to hold up their artwork so everyone could see how the bad thoughts did not look as fun or inviting as the good thoughts. We practiced saying some positive statements, among them, “I think I can. I think I can!”
Making bad thoughts with play dough proved to look obviously tense versus the good thought formations. The preschoolers had another way to see what was going on inside their minds through the creations of their thoughts into something solid they could feel as well as see.
Drumming and singing about the bad and good thoughts brought the message home through their whole body learning. “BAD THOUGHTS FEEL BAD. GOOD THOUGHTS FEEL GOOD.”
We practiced saying “I can't do it” with slumped bodies and dull voices, then took deep belly button breaths and said with upright energetic bodies, “I can do it. I can do it.” All the children participated and could FEEL the difference.
I emphasized that is how we change from a bad attitude to a good attitude – first with our thoughts, then with our feelings and actions. We used stickers to mark where we felt good thought attitudes in our bodies as well as the negative ones to bring inner awareness for increased self regulation. By acting out these bad and good thoughts, they begin to grasp how the mind, body and feelings are connected as a system.
More techniques are displayed in my Superkid Power Guidebook (Amazon) with 52 concepts that include activities.
According to Big Life Journal, unfortunately, science says it's natural for people to dwell more on negative thoughts than on positive ones, and this can be even more true for children. This negativity is usually driven by fear, doubt or shame, which produce stress chemicals in the brain. Ultimately, a negative attitude can shape how a child sees herself and the world around her.
When children learn they have a choice in HOW they think in any situation, they begin to understand self control and how they can empower themselves with good/positive thoughts and feel their SUPERKID POWER, becoming their own heroes!
Nourishing a positive attitude is more easily successful for children when adults display a positive attitude themselves, encourage children, focus on solutions instead of problems, find something good that can come from every situation and encourage children to share their experiences and gain perspective from adults with a positive outlook.
Superkid Power Guidebook by Janai Mestrovich, M.S. Aka Grandma Boom (Amazon)