5 Strategies To Be Positive


Has your child ever expressed negative attitudes when doing something? How do you help him or her change that attitude and become more positive?

My husband and I brought the family to Bukit Timah Hill on National Day. At only 164 metres high, it is not a high hill to “conquer” but the climb is steep at certain stretches. 10 minutes into the hike, we met with the first steep ascent. C, my soon-to-be 12-year-old, started dragging her feet up the steep slope. She had a litany of complaints.

“It’s too hard.”

“I’m too hot.”

“My legs are tired.”

“I’m sweating like crazy.”

“Can I stop now?”

“I don’t want to do this any more.”

It went on till we reached a rest point. She was almost in tears and we were not even a quarter of the way through our hike yet.

Turning Point

I stopped at the rest point with C while her brother and her daddy, who was carrying her 3.5year old sister, checked out a split in the road. While they were away, I had a talk with C.

The boys came back 15 minutes later and we carried on to the summit, taking a long detour to explore a new trail. The rest of the hike took us almost 2 hours.

Instead of sulking her way for the rest of the 2 hours, C bounced off with energy and enthusiasm. No longer dragging her feet, she raced up the hill with her brother and waited for us at the next rest point.

“What took you so long?” she grinned.

I praised C for her positive energy and told her I really liked the change in her attitude. I asked her how she felt.

“I feel great,” she replied happily. “This is fun!”

And she maintained that enthusiasm all the way, leapfrogging ahead to the next rest stop and waiting for us to catch up. As we were heading back towards the car, she said to me, “Mom, I really enjoyed myself.”

How did my girl switch from being teary-eyed at the beginning of the hike to being all smiles at the end of it?

How did “I don’t want to do this anymore” become “I really enjoyed myself”?

What had inspired her change in attitude?

We Choose How We Want To Feel

“It’s all in our heads. We choose how we want to feel.”

That was the gist of what I had told her in the 15 minutes the boys were away.

We could choose to focus on all the negative things about the hike, like the heat, the fatigue and the mosquitoes. We would then justifiably feel absolutely miserable.

Or we could choose to focus on the positive things about the hike, like us spending time as a family getting some exercise. And we would feel happy as a result.

It all boiled down to our choices we made in our heads.

I acknowledged it was easier said than done. But I gave her a few strategies to do the switch.

Strategy 1: Find A Role Model

All of us were on the hike together. All of us were going up the same hill in the same weather. Her daddy was carrying her little sister on his back. Obviously he was feeling warmer than the rest of us. Obviously he was exerting more energy and most likely feeling more tired than the rest of us. Yet he remained upbeat and positive. Why? What could daddy be thinking of to keep himself upbeat?

Could daddy be her role model on staying positive?

Strategy 2: Find A Motivation

We would be heading for lunch after the hike. What could she look forward to? A sumptuous lunch? A nice cold dessert?

Was there something that could motivate her to push on?

Strategy 3: Make It Less Painful

She did not have to enjoy the “ordeal”. But she could make it less painful by focusing on the good things, no matter how little that might be.

If the prisoners of war in Auschwitz could find something positive to stay alive for, there was nothing stopping us from looking at the bright side of things during this hike.

What could she do or think of to make the hike less painful for herself?

Strategy 4: Focus On The Gains

Everything worth doing required some level of effort. But if we focused on the gain, we would see that the effort was worthwhile.

In this instance, the perspiration that was soaking our clothes served to cool us down. The ache in our muscles was a result of our muscles growing and strengthening. It was also helping us strengthen our bones. The breathlessness and strain in climbing made our hearts stronger so our circulatory system would be more efficient.

What gains would she like to focus on to help her continue with the hike?

Strategy 5: Determine The Memories We Want To Create

In everything that we do, we are the ones who decide what kind of memories we want to create. If we decide we want happy memories, we will do all we can to make the memories happy. We can do likewise if we want to create unhappy memories.

What kind of memory would she like to create for this hike?

The Cycle of Positive Thinking

Many people are not aware that they have a choice to decide what kind of memories they want to form. Those who are aware tend to choose to create happy memories. They will embark on anything they do with that attitude and mindset.

Both positive and negative aspects are present in every situation that we find ourselves in but we get to choose what we want to focus on which in turn determines how we feel.

Attitude Focus Feeling Cycle


The attitude we have going into any activity determines what we will focus on. What we focus on will create the feelings that we have. That in turn reinforces the attitude that we have.

So very simply, if we are positive, we focus on positive things which creates positive feelings and that reinforces our positive attitudes which help us continue focusing on positive things.

That is the cycle of positive thinking and that is the cycle that positive thinkers get themselves into.

Make A Choice

“All of us have a choice of how we want to feel, and you do too,” I had said to her.  “You decide.”

1) Find A Role Model:
Could daddy be her role model on staying positive?

2) Find A Motivation:
Was there something that could motivate her to push on?

3) Make It Less Painful:
What could she do or think of to make the hike less painful for herself?

4) Focus On The Gains
What gains would she like to focus on to help her continue with the hike?

5) Determine The Memories We Want To Create
What kind of memory would she like to create for this hike?

By the end of the 15 minutes, C made her decision. She chose to adopt a positive attitude. The rest of the hike was an enjoyable experience for her.

The best thing was because she decided to be positive about the hike, it helped the rest of us maintain our positivity as well. As a result, ALL of us had fond memories of that hike.


We are all capable of making the switch. As long as we are conscious of the decisions that we make, of how our attitudes affect what we focus on and how we feel, it becomes easier for us to engage in positive thinking.

If C could do it, so too can the rest of us.

Which of the 5 strategies would appeal to you and your child?

– Vivian Kwek –









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