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August 3, 2011

Cultivate A Winning Attitude in Children

Written By: Barbara Gruener
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Cultivating a Winning Attitude in Children

School’s back in session and you’re in control of your classroom climate.  At the end of the day, it’s all about the attitude with which you approached it.  How far will you take your students?  An adage from motivational speaker and author Zig Ziglar sums it up: It’s your attitude that determines your altitude. But how do you stay up at a time when budgets are slashed, classes are over-crowded, and families are struggling to make ends meet? Can there possibly be power in something as simple as positive thinking?

The Power of Positive Thinking

Research says yes, there is. But, says Ziglar, motivation has to be part of your intentional daily routine:  “When I speak, people will occasionally say…’Zig, I loved your talk, but for me, motivation doesn’t last!’ I always tell them…bathing doesn’t either. That’s why I recommend it daily.”  So what simple strategies can we employ every day to muster up motivation for ourselves and share it with our school families?  Are there concrete ways to maintain the momentum of a winning attitude?  Let’s take a look.

 

Movement

Movement affects attitude.  In the book Brain Rules, author John Medina claims that “physical activity is cognitive candy.”  Sweet!  I love candy, and apparently, so does my brain.  Its chemistry thrives on movement.  Professor Medina says that exercise can actually trigger the tiny proteins known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and act “like Miracle-Gro for the brain.”  Music can also be used to change a person’s mood, and has the ability to strengthen or weaken emotions from a particular event. So next time you find yourself feeling less-than-positive, why not crank up some music and start moving?  I suggest an upbeat song with uplifting lyrics, like Rose Falcon’s pop tune Up Up Up:  “Rain falls, down on my parade, lemons into lemonade, won’t slow me down, no way no way.  When life, puts you to the test, nothing better than your best . . . .”

 

Your Tribe

The people you surround yourself with make a difference as well.  According to Joyce Landorf Heatherly’s Balcony People, those people in life who energize others and cheer them on are part of an elite group called balcony people.  Who are the Balcony people in your life?  These people get plenty of sunshine for their daily doses of vitamin D; it’s a huge part of the reason for their contentedness.  According to our friends at sunshinevitamin.org, humans spend less time in the sun today than at any point in human history, which is why more than one billion people worldwide are vitamin D deficient.  Sunshine not only helps your mood, but as little as 15 to 20 minutes of sun twice a week can make a positive difference in your health. Water also affects mood. The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) recently found that dehydration is associated with negative mood, including fatigue and confusion, so ‘water’ you waiting for?  Make a pact to stay hydrated and see how good it feels as your mood elevates.

 

Appreciation

Showing appreciation can also help your attitude.  Why not keep a Blessings Book to help you cultivate an attitude of gratitude.  Write in it every day and make time for your students to do the same.  I make it a point to carry a blank thank-you card with me so that I can follow-up acts of kindness with a note of thanks or affirmation.  Acts of kindness, both planned and random, also result in significant physical and mental health benefits. It just feels good to be appreciated.  Want something even easier than that?  Try smiling at people.  Really, a simple smile with a cheerful greeting can benefit both the giver and the receiver by helping spirits soar.

The Dash, a beautiful poem by Linda Ellis that has touched the hearts of young and old alike, prompts the inquiry: How will you live your dash this school year, from August 2011 – May 2012?  I hope you’ll seize every day and positively influence each and every student while you enjoy dancing together out on the balcony!

 

 

About the Author

A bilingual educator who was raised on her family’s farm in Wisconsin, Barbara Gruener has been the counselor and character coach at Westwood-Bales Elementary School in Friendswood, Texas for the past ten years. She’s also a motivational speaker and loves to influence and impact workshop participants in her signature Sing, Dance, Laugh and Build Character sessions. When she’s not at school, Barbara likes to write, read, knit, bake, and spend time with family and friends.  Check out Barbara’s blog to read her inspirational stories about positive people and elevating experiences.

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  • The Resourceful Teacher
    March 24, 2012

    Those were some really great ideas. I’ve found it helpful to have my students learn to take responsibility for their actions. I like to have my kiddos fill out a form that asks what they did wrong, what they should’ve done, and what they will do in the future. When they take the time to reflect on their behavior, I see positive results.

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  • Pat Pierce
    August 13, 2011

    As caring teachers, we need and should read this each week. That dash carries more weight than we all realize! We must help our students and one another appreciate blessings and joys! Thank you for your words as well as “thinkerings” from others!

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  • Alexis
    August 10, 2011

    This article was very helpful for me today. I had several projects I wanted to complete this summer, but could never find the motivation. I have since started doing similar activities to keep myself going. I play music on my iPhone, put it in my back pocket and get things done around the house. I also keep a “Joy Journal” to log something that has made me smile. When I’m feeling down, I simply open up my joy journal and read. It’s amazing!

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  • Taryn White
    August 9, 2011

    That was a great article. I loved the part about a blessings book. I believe I will start that in my class. At the end of each day we will write our blessings in a spiral. I will also buy each one of my students a special spiral just for that purpose. Thank you!

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  • Elaine
    August 9, 2011

    Thank you so much for the inspirational article. Exactly what I needed to hear today!

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  • Tracy
    August 9, 2011

    I have been teaching for five years, this year will be my first year in kindergarten. My goal this year is to excite and motivate the students and myself with everything the article talked about! I am excited for this new beginning and I am going to use that in so many positive ways!!

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  • Deana Hubbell
    August 9, 2011

    Wahoo! I’m ready to go! Thanks for the great article!

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  • Paula
    August 8, 2011

    A perfect article for the beginning of the year. Teacher need the motivation, too!

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  • Sarah Carper
    August 5, 2011

    What an inspiration! Thanks for sharing this!

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  • Barbara
    August 4, 2011

    As I’m gulping down my third glass of water, it occurred to me that I could have also encouraged you to get one of those little desktop fountains for your classrooms or offices. I have one that not only lets the water rush over the rocks, but it has the option of piping in nature sounds for the ultimate in relaxation. They’re a bit of a hassle to keep clean, but the benefits totally outweigh the cost. Thanks for all of your warm fuzzies! Barbara

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  • Brooke
    August 4, 2011

    Wow, great article and an inspiring way to start a new year. We often forget to take care of ourselves. I will work this year to remember that if I am having a good day, usually..so are my students.

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  • Patricia
    August 4, 2011

    Great post! I totally agree that having positive and energetic people surrounding you can be motivating. My students and my family are my Balcony people!

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  • Dawn
    August 3, 2011

    Great ideas! Thanks for the inspiration to start this year! I am going to try all these things and pass them on to my colleagues also.

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  • Gina Law
    August 3, 2011

    Before I got a teaching job and was subbing (a lot), someone came up to me and said, “How can you be so happy and smiling, when you haven’t been hired full time and it doesn’t look hopeful?” I replied, “How can I not be happy, I have an awesome family and when it is the right time my time will come.” Three months later, I received the phone call that I was hired! There are so many positives all around us..if the only thing I am hearing is negative..I turn the channel!

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  • Angie
    August 3, 2011

    It is easy to start the year with a positive attitude…keeping sometimes is another story! Thanks for the info I love listening to Zig and using this information in the class will be a positive experience!!

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  • Erin
    August 3, 2011

    What an inspiring article! Sometime I think we just need to be reminded to stay positive!

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  • Sktrice
    August 3, 2011

    Thank you! I think we all need to remember we often control the mood in our classrooms. We need to take care of our own emotional health to be able to help others. Great reminders; smile, use music, get sunshine and get moving.

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  • Tasha
    August 3, 2011

    Wonderful article! I can’t wait to share this with my new principle. I think she will get as much out of this article as I did.

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  • Karen
    August 3, 2011

    My school last year had a moment of silence and I would use that time to remind myself about the teacher, friend, co-worker, parent and partner that I wanted to be that day! It’s amazing how those few seconds helped me through the entire day!

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  • Beth West
    August 3, 2011

    Love this article! We will have to incorporate more music into our currculum because we lost music as a special. Also I love that my school already focuses on positive character development and I would love to add more movement to celebrate our successes.

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  • Regina
    August 3, 2011

    That is what is so great about the beginning of the new school year. Positivity abounds! Even though you may have had a not so wonderful year last year, you get to start over! 🙂

    I don’t get out too much in the sun, and I’m not a big water drinker. But I certainly know how music can elevate a mood! My goals for the new school year: drink more water, get more sunshine, listen to uplifting music, and move, move, move! My positive attitude is going to rub off onto my students! =)

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  • Jessica
    August 3, 2011

    I love incorporating music into my day. When I use it throughout the day to help motivate my 5th graders when they seem down. Great article!

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  • Brian
    August 3, 2011

    Thanks for inspiring all of us!

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  • Marcie Anderson
    August 3, 2011

    I like the motivate yourself daily. This year I will try to play a fun song each morning and to drink more water and see if it helps.

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  • Kalyn
    August 3, 2011

    Barbara,
    Thank you for your motivational words. This is not the first time that I have been told about the poem, The Dash. It is important that we leave a legacy behind and people remember the dash in our lives. I only hope my students remember me as an inspiring, motivating, and mentor teacher like so many other great teachers and leaders out there.
    Kalyn Young

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  • Colleen Pethybridge Furlong
    August 3, 2011

    Plan on setting side a couple minutes daily to share “good news” within the class.

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  • Amy
    August 3, 2011

    Thank you Barbara for your inspirational post and the reminder of how important music and dancing are to the human soul…I definitely need to do more dancing with my students this year!
    Amy Gosla

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  • Catherine Peterson
    August 3, 2011

    Just what I needed to read! Last year was tough for me at school and also on the personal front. Cultivating a winning attitude will be my ultimate goal this year for myself and my students. Now I need to find a copy of “The Dash” Thanks for the uplifting ideas! Catherine

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