Did you know that positive thinking is you and your child’s passport to overall health and wellbeing? This week in my work with students, I’ve created a positive passport activity so that we can begin to shift our thoughts into the vibration of positivity!
We all feel better when we have positive thoughts inside our heads. Help your child to begin to pay attention to the thoughts that are passing through and to understand that he has the power to change it if he wants. Positive internal dialogue, also known as, positive self-talk is a key component to relaxation as well. What we rehearse inside our minds creates the atmosphere for our entire nervous system and body. In fact, eventually the feedback loop between what we are thinking and feeling becomes interconnected–that is until we decide to change it.
Thinking/Feeling Feedback Loop
Dr. Joe Dispenza, author of the book Evolve Your Brain and many other publications on neuroscience, (http://drjoedispenza.net/blog/), writes about how the more we think a certain way, the more we feel that same certain way, and vice versa. As we rehearse a pattern of thoughts, a feedback loop is created within the body in which our thoughts impact the neurotransmitters and circulation of other hormones within the body. These same thoughts also either promote a calm nervous system response or have the power to send us into the protective fight/flight/freeze stress responseThe reverse is also true: the more we feel sad, mad, depressed, etc, the more we are apt to think thoughts that correspond to those emotions.
It is important that we support our kids in learning how to think in ways that support their wellbeing and enhance feelings of security, confidence, and overall wellbeing. In the education world, “growth mindset” is a hot topic. Growth mindset refers to this pattern of thought–how we think over time and how we teach kids to rehearse the thoughts that make them feel good about taking risks, believing in and focusing on their own strengths, trying out new things, and adopting a view of “failure” that involves seeing mistakes as learning opportunities rather than a reason for shame or reflection on who they are as a person. There is an awesome YouTube Channel and website that has a wide assortment of videos that can support learning about growth mindset: https://ideas.classdojo.com/. Some examples of their video titles include Your Brain is Like a Muscle and The Magic of Mistakes.
We can also build upon the growth mindset teachings and curriculums, expanding them to teach about positive versus negative thought patterns.
I used to work with a teacher who gave me this idea. She had positive passports at work in her classroom. She taught students all about positive thinking and encouraged them with the use of these positive passport booklets to catch themselves thinking positive throughout the day. They wrote positive thoughts in the booklet and then would collect a stamp at the end of the day for an “abundance of positive thoughts.” She also had them catching each other being positive for extra stamps!
The cool thing about her positive passports was that it got kids looking for the positive and helped them to actually focus on the positive which, in turn, reinforced positive interactions with each other, while creating a positive atmosphere in her classroom.
During the year when students needed a little “extra” positive thought energy in one area of the day, this teacher would have them take their passports to that part of the day. For example, when several students were struggling to stay on task and to comply with teacher directives in music, she had them take their passports to music so that teacher could reinforce positive thinking in her class. It became a collaborative effort throughout their school day.
Create Your Own Positive Passports!
You can create your own positive passports with your child. Here’s how I did it:
First, I ordered some generic kids passports from Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Set-of-24-Passport-Stampers/
Next, I created my own “Positive Passport” cover, printed it out, cut and pasted it onto the cover. You can design your own with your child to personalize it!
Finally, I used the passports as a group activity to talk about affirmations or positive thoughts we affirm about ourselves, positive self-talk, and how to use them as a place to record our positive actions throughout the day. We record our spots of kindness, our moments of using our self-care and calming tools, and our sharing and giving to others.
As one student stated a positive thought about her day, I would stamp her passport, acknowledging her work! It was a wonderful way to validate her thoughts, to affirm her demonstration of empathy toward her friends, and to connect during our conversation.
The Relaxation Link
So what does this all have to do with relaxation? Pretty much everything 🙂
Relaxation is directly related to the thoughts we think. Have you ever felt deeply relaxed while being in the quicksand of worry, anxiety, or other stressful thoughts?
Adding information on positive growth mindset to your relaxation instruction and practice with your kids is essential. Because of brain plasticity, the ability for the brain to continually grow and change based on our use of it over time, it’s especially important that we support kids in developing positive thinking patterns early in life. These patterns can be lifelines during those bumps in the road and during the extreme storms that pass through life, true positive passports to relaxation.