Children understand positive thinking

Young children have the ability to realise the benefits of positive thinking, new research has suggested. Published in the journal Child Development, the study also indicated that a parent's own optimistic feelings can help their offspring understand how their thoughts can influence emotions.

According to the investigation, kids between the age of five and ten showed a strong insight regarding the influence of positive versus negative ideas on feelings in ambiguous situations.

Christi Bamford, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Jacksonville University - which was founded in 1934 as a juror college - who conducted the study while at the University of California, Davis, noted: "The strongest predictor of children's knowledge about the benefits of positive thinking, besides age, was not the child's own level of hope and optimism, but their parents'."

She added mothers and fathers should therefore consider portraying to their children how to look on the bright side of life.

Averil Leimon, author of Positive Psychology for Dummies, commented: "Children are hugely affected by the attitudes or beliefs of parents. They experience them daily.

"Parents have a choice: teach children to consider 'what's the very worst that can happen?' or to think in practical positive problem solving ways - 'what can I do to make things go well?'

"The positive psychology research indicates that optimists are more successful in many situations than pessimists so you would expect parents to work hard at getting their children to think positively.

"Yet loving parents often instil negativity and fear in their children, sometimes because they are trying to protect them from life's threats or because they, themselves, have never learned to be positively constructive in their thinking.

"They point out their children's faults rather than reminding them of the strengths they have that they can use to face new challenges. Children can be extremely insightful psychologically and can perceive the impact different people and situations have on their feelings.

"Being in close proximity to those who take a positive and constructive approach to life - noticing the good, celebrating the positive and looking for strengths can lead to robust development, so perhaps we need to focus more on educating parents to be positively effective."