Activities to Keep a Kid From Thinking Negative Thoughts

by Candice Coleman

Disappointments are a natural part of life, whether a toddler teeters and falls off a bike or a child's sports team loses. Children might cling to these negative experiences and lose confidence in themselves and their abilities. A parent's approach to these life circumstances can help children adopt new ways of thinking and approaching their problems.

Communication Activities

Parents might think that distracting a child from a problem will curb negative thinking, but children need more from their parents, according to Tamar Chansky, clinical child psychologist and founder of The Children's Center for OCD and Anxiety. Listen to your child's feelings about whatever is wrong and try to empathize with those emotions. Ask plenty of questions to get the full story of what happened. A child can also replace himself in these stories with a favorite athlete or family member. What does your child think that athlete or family member would do in the same situation? This activity can help children figure out problem-solving skills from those he admires.

Choices Activities

Children might absorb their negative thinking from parents, family members or friends, according to Chansky. Spend an afternoon with your child doing various household activities or running errands in town. If the laundry does not get done, a parent could say to his child, "I didn't finish the laundry. I can get upset that it's not done yet, or I can do it now." Showing your child that you can choose the upbeat response might help him remember the positive options more in the future. Parents can also ask a child about various scenarios. What are the child's options in those circumstances?

Keeping Busy

Sometimes, problems are out of everyone's control. Negative feelings might subside with time, and parental involvement can help children feel safer and more secure. Cut family photos into pieces to make your own jigsaw puzzles or draw your own coloring pages. Focusing on others might also make a child feel positively about himself. Bake cookies to give to a neighbor, help a neighbor with an errand or housework, or visit a charity to find out ways that you and your son can help. Emphasize the ways that your child's contribution helped someone else, and it could boost his self-esteem, according to Kids Health.

Writing it All Down Activities

Ask your child to write a list of his best qualities, along with the best qualities of others he knows. Parents can do the same, jotting down the qualities they like about their child. Your son can post this list in his room as a reminder of his best traits. Such activities can also boost a child's self-esteem, according to Kids Health. If someone is mean to your child, ask your child to write down a list of possible reasons why. Offer your encouragement -- maybe that person was upset about something else and took it out on him, for example. This activity can help children empathize with others.

About the Author

Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.

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