The Impact of Positivity for Students

5 min to read
The Impact of Positivity for Students

In honor of World Smile Day, which occurs annually on the first Friday in October, discover the benefits of positive thinking and ways you can encourage a positive attitude for your student. By making positive thinking a habit, you increase the likelihood that your child will develop a positive mindset in the long term. Not only does positive thinking lead to more smiles throughout their childhood, but people with a more optimistic mindset tend to have higher self-esteem and stronger social relationships than those with negative outlooks. 

The Impact of Positivity Begins in the Brain

Intentionally developing a more positive attitude can literally change the way your brain works for the better.

Here’s how it works: Positivity releases serotonin and dopamine also known as the happiness and feel-good hormones, into your brain. At the same time, it reduces the amount of cortisol, the stress hormone, into your brain, which in turn leads to improved memory, learning, creative thinking, and problem solving.

Benefits of Positive Thinking

Health

Thinking positively can improve your child’s health—physically and mentally

Impact of Positivity on Physical Health

Per the Mayo Clinic, physical health benefits of a positive outlook include:

  • Longer life span
  • Stronger immune response
  • Lower pain levels
  • Improved heart health
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • And more 

Mental Health Benefits of Positive Thinking

A positive mindset is also associated with considerable mental health benefits. Some of these benefits include:  

  • Stronger problem-solving and decision-making skills
  • Lower stress levels
  • Better coping skills
  • Easier time adapting to life changes
  • Improved moods (parents of challenging teens, rejoice!)
  • Fewer incidents of anxiety and depression
  • Increased creativity 
An online student enjoying the benefits of positive thinking.

Learning and Academic Achievement

While more effective learning naturally leads to an increase in achievement, a positive attitude about the subject they’re studying puts your child’s brain in a mode that’s optimal for grasping and retaining content.  

Researchers with Stanford University School of Medicine recently observed the brain scans of 47 students, ages 7 to 10, as part of a larger study looking at how attitude affects achievement. The images showed that the hippocampus, a brain area linked with memory and learning, was significantly more active in kids with a positive attitude toward their subject of study, (in this case, math), regardless of whether they were good at it. From there, they were able to determine that a student’s attitude about their learning ultimately impacts their academic achievement just as much as their IQ. 

Self-Esteem and Confidence

Thinking positively leads to higher self-esteem, which plays a vital role in your child’s development and mental health. Kids and teens with good self-esteem are more likely to put 100 percent effort into projects with a sense of pride in their accomplishments. When they do make mistakes, it’s their tendency to think positively that helps them cope with failures, ask for help, and try again. 

Resiliency

Positive thinkers become positive people who have faith in themselves and their ability to overcome challenges. They expect things to turn out well and view setbacks as temporary. 

This is resiliency—the ability to recover quickly from difficulties—and it plays a vital role in your child’s development. Resilience helps teenagers deal more positively with failures, mistakes, and setbacks, and is a critical life skill that benefits our mental health, preventing anxiety and other stress-related issues. 

An online student researching World Smile Day.

Tools for Teaching Kids to Think Positively

Fortunately, a person’s attitude and outlook are not etched in stone. Even if someone is genetically predisposed to a more negative way of thinking, they can learn to be more optimistic. Here are some strategies for teaching your child how to think positively:

Positive Self-Talk

Positive Self-Talk mostly involves a shift in perspective, turning “I can’t” into “I can” or “I can’t yet.” For example, rather than thinking, “I’m so bad at Spanish. I always fail my Spanish tests,” they can learn to change their thinking to “I may be frustrated about my score, but I’m going to ask for one-on-one help from my teacher and practice with my friend who is fluent in Spanish, so I can do better next time."

Help your child get started with positive self-talk by creating a list of positive affirmation statements they can choose from to add to their inner dialogue. 

Gratitude

Research in positive psychology points to a strong link between gratitude and happiness. Practicing gratitude increases positive emotions, improves health, and helps you to cope with hardship. Examples of activities that cultivate gratitude include writing a thank you note, keeping a daily gratitude journal, and practicing prayer or meditation.

Visualization

Visualization helps us connect our current and future selves as a way to achieve goals. Ask your child to visualize the sights, smells, and feelings they’ll experience when they achieve their goal. Have them write or draw their mental image, then ask them to describe the scene aloud to make it real in their conscious mind. Then, repeat this process regularly.

Smile More

Did you know that smiling, even if it’s forced, helps to reduce your heart rate and blood pressure in times of stress? It’s also known to significantly improve your mood. Happy emotions often lead to smiling, increasing the serotonin in the brain, which helps you to feel happier and think more positively.                                                                                                                                          

Smile More with Positive Thinking

Remember, the earlier you get your child to think positively and to develop a positive mindset, the more natural it will become and the sooner they’ll experience its benefits. For more ideas on how to instill positivity in your child, visit our article “7 Tips to Encourage Positive Attitude in Students." It’s a great way to celebrate World Smile Day 2022! 

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