Trying to make sense of life and to learn living it happily.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Turning Dreams Into Reality - Positive Thinking Workshops for Kids

I am so excited and happy! Thanks in part to this blog, I was invited to do positive thinking workshops for kids at a local community "Y"!

The event is sponsored by PJ Library (http://pjlibrary.org/), an organization that provides free age-appropriate books with Jewish-themed values. 
So I decided to pick one book for every workshop, read and discuss it with the kids, and follow that up with a fun project related to our topic. I finish with a "homework", such as smile when you wake up tomorrow, or don't forget to thank mom for breakfast.

So far I did two workshops.

For the first workshop, I've read a book "Joseph Had a Little Overcoat". It is a great book on positive attitude. It is about a small village man called Joseph. He had a beautiful coat which got old and tattered, so he made a jacket out of it. As the jacket got older, he made it into a vest, then a scarf, a tie, then a handkerchief, and finally, a button. But finally even the button got old and eventually got lost. Could he make something else from nothing? Why yes, he wrote a story about it.

This particular story lends beautifully to discussions of positive attitude, such as:

- the power of smile and good mood (which Joseph carried throughout the book)

- the power of positive thoughts - instead of becoming sad, Joseph saw an opportunity
(also having an open mind, dealing positively with adversity, resilience)

- accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative

- optimism

- we do not need a lot of things to be happy

- satisfaction with what we have

- just like Joseph could come up with a story from these events, we can always get positive attitude and good mood from anything.

- personal hygiene - to be happy we need to be healthy, and keeping clean and neat is one way to do it.

- enthusiasm (not be lazy)

- take control of your life (do not wait for something to happen, make it happen as much as you can)

-resourcefulness (how to make "lemonade" from a "lemon")

- gratefulness - appreciate what you have

Of course, it would take hours to go into all of these, so I discussed Joseph's positive attitude, and how if something unpleasant happens (like when Joseph's clothes got old and torn), we can always think of something good in this situation and smile.

I had 4,5,6 and 8-year olds and everyone participated and shared what made them happy (which, predictably, included gifts, and unpredictably, gymnastics and soccer lessons).

The homework for the kids was to get up in the morning, smile and be in a good mood!

For the second workshop, I chose to discuss such an important concept as gratefulness. For that, I read a PJ Library book "The Apple Tree's Discovery".

Together with the kids, we have discussed all the things we can be thankful for. First on the list were gifts, new things, and conveniences, such as being able to take a car to school instead of the school bus. Slowly but surely we arrived to less tangible things, everyday things that we often take for granted, things we forget to be thankful for, even as grown ups, such as the sun, the nature, our talents (for example the ability to draw beautifully or excel at sports), and of course our family, friends, and even the fact that we are alive!

We've also discussed that even if we get something we do not like, e.g. Mom gives us veggies for
lunch instead of pizza :), we still have to remember to be grateful to Mom for the effort.

I tried to make a distinction between a mere politeness in saying thank you automatically and actually noticing all the good things and feeling sincere gratefulness for them.

We followed the lively discussion with a drawing session accompanied by the song "Grateful" by John Bucchino. The kids drew what made them feel grateful. The pictures ranged from a toy to the child's family to summer!

The homework - to remember to thank Mom for the breakfast tomorrow.

I hope the children will be a little more mindful of positive attitude and gratefulness now, the seeds that will flourish into happiness when they become teens and adults.

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