July 5, 2016
We had a red, white, and blue banner week at Green Acres! Campers have become reacquainted with old friends and have had an opportunity to make new ones. We were excited to see so many families at our Fun Run, which gave campers a chance to take a risk and try something new.
Sometimes campers feel uncomfortable about new experiences and need some guidance to turn negative thoughts into more positive ideas. Dr. Martin Seligman from the University of Pennsylvania, and author of several books including Kiss That Frog, suggests several ways that adults can help children in this area.
1. Model Optimistic Self-Talk- Discuss what might happen during your day ahead of time, and suggest a positive outlook such as, “I have a chance to try something new today at work!” Encourage your child to view an unknown or unfamiliar situation as a positive experience. You might want to ask him/her what new activities were offered at camp during the week and if he/she opted to try one.
2. Make a Mantra- Think of a slogan with your child that would be motivating when he/she is worried. “I think I can”, “I believe in myself” or something that would encourage your child to keep trying when he/she is worried. Reassure your child that you are in this together.
3. Take Action- Try new things as a family- even ones that might take your child out of his/her comfort zone. At camp, children are encouraged to take risks and to choose an unfamiliar activity. If your child doesn’t enjoy it, look at the situation in a positive light, and focus on what he/she learned from the experience.
4. Change Your Child’s Explanation for Adversity- Help your child change a negative perspective to a positive one. Rather than, “I can’t ever hit the ball because I’m a terrible kickball player”, you might suggest, “You just need more practice and we can practice together!” Dr. Seligman suggests you ask guiding questions such as, “What other explanations can you think of?” or “What can you do differently next time?”
5. Focus on Improvement- Help your child to be aware of his/her own improvement by commenting on it. Something as simple as, “Wow! You got ready really quickly for camp this morning!” or, “I’ve noticed you have been sharing a lot more about camp!” can go a long way to encourage a child’s improvement.
6. Be a Skill Builder- Kids develop skills in increments. Talk about skills that your child would like to develop, and make a plan together. Practice one step at a time and note the progress. Increase the challenge incrementally. Your child will build his/her confidence as he/she meets each challenge.
7. Recognize Good When it Happens- Sometimes children focus on the negative more than the positive, even when there are positives to report. Play the “Three Good Things” game in which you list three good things that happened at camp. You could share three good things that happened at work, especially if you were expecting some negative experiences.
Green Acres is a camp where we encourage creativity, choices, friendships, and fun! There are many opportunities to take risks and try something out of our comfort zone. Our counselors always try to put a positive spin on a situation and discuss what can be learned from a negative experience. We hope that some of these ideas will help parents to guide the pessimistic child to refocus his/her thoughts and actions to become more optimistic. Green Acres Camp; it’s the place to be!
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