By Darian Young, FireLodge Family Preservation Coordinator
Positivity includes more than a smile on your lips or faux cheery attitude. Science has proven that having a positive mindset creates benefits that last far longer than the present. Positive psychology researcher Barbara Frederickson’s “Broaden and Build” theory describes how the positive emotions humans experience actually broaden our sense of possibilities and allow us to then build new skills or resources that can positively impact our future. Read more about the theory at cpn.news/flfp.
As positive thinking can impact us long term, so can negative thinking. Emotions such as fear and anxiety consume and narrow the mind, causing a super focus of our thoughts. This response was extremely helpful centuries ago when humans constantly faced life-threatening situations that necessitated quick decision-making or short-term responses. In modern times, these extreme negative emotions sometimes act against us by shutting us off from the world, limiting the options we can see in the present, and leading us to unhealthy decision-making.
If we are not cautious, our negative emotions can run rampant, impacting our daily life and spilling out onto our families and loved ones. For parents, it is especially important to monitor your negative emotions. Setting a positive example at home with how you model and manage your own feelings can lead to a healthier home overall. No individual is perfect and everyone has bad days, but if we recognize the difference something as simple as a positive mindset can make in our home long term, it makes the effort we put in to it worthwhile.
With our society still experiencing a pandemic, it is vital that parents and caregivers set a positive and healthy tone regarding COVID-19 and life in general. We can do this first by making sure we’re sharing only age-appropriate information with the children in our home as to not overwhelm a child’s mind with fear. Furthermore, taking the time when possible to process news before delivering it to children — such as what the school year will look like or what events might be canceled — can help you to deliver the news in a way that can be much more helpful to your young child or teen. Lastly, addressing children’s fears and frustrations while encouraging open conversations where children can be given simple but honest answers to their big questions can be helpful in decreasing anxiety in the home. Being a positive parent, not permissive, can create a nurturing atmosphere — a safe place in the very uncertain world we live in today.
Prioritizing our own self-care during this time is also imperative, as taking the time to decompress can allow our brains to access further positive emotions. Carving out the time for meditation, prayer, reading, exercising, pampering, journaling or any form of “me time” can put you in the right headspace to take on the day with confidence and optimism.
Balancing both healthy boundaries and structure in the home with joy is equally essential. While healthy eating, adequate sleep and managed screen time for children and adults can be beneficial in decreasing stress and anxiety, prioritizing joy as well can ensure a well-balanced home. Take time to find new ways to connect as a family with game or movie nights, forts, backyard dinners, bedtime reading, family TikToks or family walks — anything that brings love and laughter.
While social distancing, do not forget the value of staying connected. Now is as stressful as ever for families across the globe; if you’re at your breaking point, reach out to a loved one or your community for assistance. Utilize the help around you and find unique ways for you and your children to still connect with loved ones outside the home, whether through virtual platforms, 6-feet-apart play dates or coffee dates, or pen pals. If you or someone you know are involved with the child welfare system or are interested in the services FireLodge Children & Family Services Family Preservation Program can provide, give us a call at 405-878-4831 or visit us on Facebook @CPNFireLodge.