Celebrating successes

7 Strategies to Promote Positive Thinking

By The Understood Team

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Many parents of kids with learning and attention issues can be hard on themselves. But positive thinking can keep you motivated. And that sets a good example for your child! Here are strategies you can try.

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Celebrate your success.

It’s easy to focus on the negative or what you “should have” or “could have” done with your child: “I could have taken more time to talk with the math teacher.” These thoughts are normal, but try to steer your thinking to positive things instead: “I set up a meeting with the math teacher. That will be a big help.” Try taking time each day, such as before going to sleep, to reflect on your accomplishments. This can help you appreciate your victories, even the small ones.

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List your successes.

Another way to remind yourself of the positive is to keep a list. You might make a list of positive things you’ve done for your child, like “arranged for a mentor” or “devoted extra time to homework.” You could also keep a separate list of activities you did with your child that you both enjoyed, like “watched a silly movie together.” Add new items to the lists when you do something new. Leave your lists in a place you access often, like on the nightstand, and read them any time you need a boost.

Close-up of parents sitting at the breakfast table with their son, hugging and praising him
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Consider your child’s strengths.

When your child has learning and attention issues, it’s common to hear about what he can’t do, such as reading at his grade level. But learning and attention issues are only part of who your child is. Think about your child’s talents and his unique qualities that you love. For example, he might be a good soccer player. Or maybe he’s very thoughtful and offers to help around the house, like raking leaves in the fall. This thinking can help you shift from a sense of “what's wrong” to celebrating who your child is.

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Think of the positives of facing challenges.

There’s no doubt that kids with learning and attention issues face challenges. But it may help to look for the “silver lining,” or the positive aspects of facing challenges. It can make you and your child stronger people. For example, if your child has to talk to his teachers about his dyslexia, it could help him with self-advocacy in the future—like with a boss at work. You can learn a lot from your challenges. You might share what you learn with other parents of kids with learning and attention issues. And your child might want to become a mentor to another child with learning and attention issues.

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Share your experiences with others.

Parenting a child with learning and attention issues can sometimes feel lonely. But there are many other parents of kids with learning and attention issues who feel just like you do. You might want to share your experiences in a local support group. Or you could do that on Facebook or in our community of parents. Your knowledge can be very helpful for parents who are new to dealing with learning and attention issues. And sharing your experiences can be rewarding for you, too.

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Give yourself rewards.

Rewards can be a good way to celebrate accomplishments. That goes for you as well as your child. Think about activities that inspire you or that you really enjoy doing. Use these as rewards for yourself for tackling tough things. For example, you might be dreading a meeting with your child’s teacher. After the meeting is over, you could reward yourself by picking up take-out from your favorite restaurant instead of cooking that night. Or you might celebrate your child’s success on a math test you helped him study for by downloading a new book on your e-reader.

Mother and teen daughter standing outdoors giving each other a tight heart felt hug
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Remember, and channel, unconditional love.

During tough moments, it might seem hard to accept and love your child for who he is—especially if you didn’t feel loved or accepted when you were a child either. You might want to think of a time in your life when someone loved you unconditionally. Maybe it was a grandparent you loved visiting. Think about how that person looked at you with unconditional love and support. Remembering that feeling can help you offer the same thing to yourself and your child.

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About the Author

Understood Team Graphic

The Understood Team is composed of writers, editors and community moderators, many of whom have children with learning and attention issues.

Reviewed by

Portrait of Bob Cunningham

Bob Cunningham, Ed.M., serves as advisor-in-residence on learning and attention issues for Understood.

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