Find where Pookie is hiding bedtime story book – Parents Zone
Positive Psychology is a fairly new sub-field within the study of Psychology. It is the study of happiness and looks at how adults and children can live a more fulfilling and satisfying life.
Another way to look at is, traditional Psychology is concerned with “fixing things,” while Positive Psychology is geared towards “preventing things.”
For example, when your child is at the edge of a cliff, Positive Psychology encourages you to build a fence to stop your child from falling instead of calling an ambulance to pick up the pieces once they’ve already fallen (traditional psychology).
So how do you build a fence?
Even though there are many ways to build a fence, we explore two principles within “Where’s Pookie?”:
1. Understanding Flow & Decision Making
2. Identifying Negative Emotions such as Sadness & Anger
Why is this important?
By practising the principles within Positive Psychology, research shows that kids improve their academic performance and attitude. They also engage in more positive behaviours (and fewer negative ones). We all want that for our children! It also:
- Increases success when it comes to forming friendships; increases ability to manage conflict with peers
- Enables them to manage negative emotions
- Enables them to have better concentration, which means performing better academically
- Prevents health problems
- Creates more stable and satisfying relationships with adults
- Makes them more resilient and optimistic
As stated, the two principles that can be explored in Where’s Pookie? are:
- Understanding Flow & Decision Making and
- Identifying Negative Emotions such as Sadness & Anger
1. Understanding Flow & Decision Making
Positive Psychology discusses a concept called “flow.” Flow is becoming so absorbed in an activity that you lose all track of time. When we are in flow, we work to our fullest capacity, thus achieving amazing results, and when children are in flow their learning is optimal. Athletes refer to this as being in the ‘zone.’
Flow occurs when there is balance between the task (challenge) and your competence level. If the task exceeds your competency level, this causes anxiety and stress, however, if the task is too easy, this could cause boredom.
Flow usually happens during play, or while maintaining a playful attitude while learning. When children are playing, they are usually in a state of flow.
To enter into a state of flow, both for adults and children, a critical factor is “deciding” whether you want to undertake the task or challenge.
Therefore, children need to exercise choice if they are to enter flow. You can’t enter flow if you are told to do so.
When children are playing, and they are choosing what games to play or the difficulty level, they are more likely to enter into a state of flow. When we lose this sense of freedom or choice because we are told to do something, we achieve less and less flow.
Therefore, when we introduce a level of autonomy and choice into learning, we can achieve flow easier. As stated, you can’t enter flow if you are forced into doing a task.
Therefore, introducing small choices whenever practical is critical to achieving a state of flow. Do you want to play inside or outside? You need to complete both of these spelling questions; which one do you to do first? Choose what colour pens to use, what chair to sit on, what toy to play with. Do you want to search for Pookie in the park or beach?
Making small decisions can encourage ownership of an activity which can help to achieve flow, creativity and happiness.
2. Identifying Negative Emotions
It’s important for children to talk about their emotions instead of letting them work out their feelings on their own. When children are comfortable talking about their feelings, they tend to build higher levels of confidence, resilience and self-awareness.
Based on the latest findings in Positive Psychology, the development of these skills leads to greater levels of happiness in children, especially when they get older (i.e. as a teenager or as adult).
When a child acts inappropriate, many times it’s because they just don’t understand how they feel. Two of the biggest emotions children have difficulty in are anger and sadness.
When a child feels sad, a parents love and support helps children feel valuable and builds self-esteem. One of the best strategies is to give a simple hug and telling your child everything is going to be ok.
Anger is one of the most difficult emotions to come to terms with (even as adults). It’s important to acknowledge to children that everyone gets angry sometimes, and it’s a normal feeling, though they have a choice in how they respond to those feelings. One of the best strategies is to give children the opportunity to find their own solution. This builds self-trust, and even though they may still feel angry, they are less likely be controlled by the emotions.
Simple Action Steps
Simple strategies to promote healthy emotional development in your child:
- Children very often do not understand what they are feeling. Support all emotions in a caring and responsive way.
- The size of the issue is irrelevant; do not dismiss their emotion as if they are over reacting or being silly. Always respond in a loving way.
- Be a good listener and let them know they can trust you.
- Help your child by naming emotions and teaching healthy ways to deal with them.
- Do not punish children for their anger and frustration. They may internalize those negative emotions due to fear of being punished which may lead to behaviour problems as they get older.
- Teach children to express negative emotions without hurting themselves, hurting others or damaging property.
- Communicate to your child in a non-judgmental way, showing her/him you understand how she/he feels.
- Find the root cause of the feelings, and put the feelings into words.
- Be a great role model. Adults lose their temper also; the same rules apply: feel what you want, but control what you do. You can’t fool children by denying you are upset, angry or frightened. It’s better to simply admit it as calmly as possible.
- Show your child that you value their feelings. If you value theirs, they will value yours.
Let’s chat about “Where’s Pookie”
Below is a list of possible questions to ask kids after playing Where’s Pookie?:
1. Where did you search for Pookie, the beach or park? Why did you make that choice?
2. What made Zac sad?
3. How did Zac feel when he couldn’t find Pookie?
4. Was it wrong for Zac to feel angry when he couldn’t find Pookie? Why?
5. Was it wrong for Zac to act the way he did when he was angry? Why?
6. When do you get sad or angry?
7. What things make you feel better?