Start with the positive

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Barbara Fredrickson, a well-known researcher in the field of positive psychology (and a professional hero of mine), discovered that positive emotions actually affect they way we solve problems. As is written in the Encyclopedia of Positive Psychology, edited by Shane Lopez, “positive emotions broaden the scope of the individual’s focus of attention, allowing for more creative problem-solving and an increased range of behavioral response options and they also build physical, intellectual, and social resources that are available to the individual for dealing with life’s challenges” (p. 505). This is important to parenting for many reasons – I will just get into two. First, it means that when we can stay positive ourselves, we can parent better. From a place of positive emotions, we can decide on a more effective parenting strategy such as validating our child’s feelings, redirecting troublesome behavior, choosing humor over yelling, or staying consistent with the behavior plan instead of further confusing our children. Second, we model for our children the effectiveness, beyond just feeling good, of being positive and seeing strengths in situations. This does not negate the importance of embracing all emotions (positive AND negative) but it certainly helps support the act of looking for the silver lining!

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