When I was growing up, I rarely was exposed to negative news. I remember playing and spend-ing a good time with friends and family members. There was not much TV. I did not know much about the ongoing events of the world – there was no cable TV, there was no internet or social media, the newspapers primarily focused on important news events, which were rarely violent. All in all, there was not much exposure to negative news, except for an occasional upsetting issue at home or school.
But, when I put myself in the shoes of today’s kids – I can’t help but be frightened by the amount of negative information they are being fed constantly. Most of it is happening unconsciously. When TV is turned on, you see the constant flow of negative news, the bombing of various cities of the world, the barbaric acts of ISIS, the heart wrenching cries of little babies affected by refugee crisis, terrorism and famine, and much more – the flow of negative news is almost endless. Even though social media revolution has its benefits, it also has been contributing to rapid explosion of negative news much faster than ever in the history of the world.
So, when our kids are constantly exposed to this seemingly endless negative input, what kind of affect do you think it will have on their minds? What’s going to be their world view? I am afraid it’s going to be extremely negative. That explains the tremendous amount of stress being seen in young kids and millennials. So, how do we overcome this negativity? How to we console them when they are exposed to frightening events? How do we give them a positive experience. Here is the solution:
Remember, our mind is nothing but the sum total of thoughts we constantly expose it to. Your mind is like a pot filled with water. If you fill it in with dirty water, it innocently holds it and emanates stinky odor. If you pour in scented water, it again innocently holds it and emanates pleasant odor. It’s all up to us what we pour in our mind and so, what we receive in return. What is inside our mind is going to determine what is coming out of us and thus our interactions and experiences with this world.
Here are the five things you can do to help your child be positive in this predominantly negative world:
- Prevention is better than cure: Avoid exposure to negative news where possible. Turn off the TV, especially news channels these days. They can watch kids channels for a limited time if they choose to.
- Promote good family dynamics: As parents, avoid arguing in front of children. Kids are smart and are like sponges. They absorb all ideas and behaviors innocently from their immediate surroundings. Give them a chance to grow in a conflict-free environment by all means. You will enjoy the rewards of doing so as they grow up. Do everything you can to get along with your spouse. Both of you should take extra steps to ensure you have a good relationship and also with your extended family members. This will also avoid the total amount of negative input they are exposed to overall in their life.
- Replace bad information with good information: If your child is already exposed to negative events or information, reduce its burden by avoiding repetition. Repeated exposure to negative information may permanently imprint it on the clean slate of their minds. Instead, expose them to positive feelings, positive ideas, and positive news regularly. If you do that, the sum total of positive exposure will easily outweigh the negative information they get exposed to and that, will help them have an overall positive experience in life.
- Give your 100% unconditional love and reassure them: Sometimes, that is what all they need to feel comforted after a stressful situation, whether it is bullying at school, a fight with a friend, exposure to bad news or something else. The more loved they are, the less hurting their negative experiences will be. I grew up with strong family and social support, and that helped me a lot. I knew I was loved no matter what and that knowledge matters!
- Teach them how to handle stress right from childhood: Unfortunately, most of us do not get any stress management education at home, school, college or work. Then how are we supposed to handle life’s challenges gracefully? Better late than never. Start learning for yourself and teaching your kids, simple strategies on how to handle stress now!