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  • Writer's pictureAlley Dezenhouse Kelner

Toxic Positivity & Our Kids

It can be really tempting to cue our kids to focus on the good, to see the bright side, to strive for positivity in all endeavours and while that may be appropriate at times, it's equally true that life is not always sunny side up--and that's ok,'s normal.

All the thoughts and feelings associated with all of the experiences we have, are valid and worth sharing.

But Alley, you don't get it--my kid is a total negative Nancy.

No, no. I DO get it.

Some kids have a hard time finding the good; they are good at voicing when expectation doesn't meet reality and focusing on what went wrong--like, always but they struggle to show gratitude when they are content, or satisfied.

So wait, I'm confused?

Here's the thing, teaching our kids to acknowledge, without being consumed by, the tough stuff is as important as teaching them to acknowledge without being consumed by the picture perfect stuff. We're shaped by our experiences (of course--that's science) but they don't have to control how we feel about ourselves, our day, our year!

The good, and the challenging have a lessons to teach.

So, toxic positivity (finding the bright side even when there isn't one), or toxic negativity are both going to lead our kids astray.

So....what should I do?


-NOT providing more attention for what went wrong--we tend to be more inquisitive when things were sad, bad, or made us mad--fight that urge. When we attend more to negativity, we see more of it.

-Ask balancing and reflective questions; what would you do differently next time? If you could change one thing what would it be? What were you thinking about when that happened? Did anything unexpected happen after that?

-Provide balanced feedback and be inquisitive, contemplative, and engaged for BOTH positive and negative experiences our kids have.


From a very young age our kids accidentally learn that when everything is rainbows and butterflies we leave well enough alone--don't rock the boat, right? So, we send the message that we're more present and tuned in (activate the "Mr. Fix It" mentality) when something goes wrong. Our behaviour has a huge impact on our kids behaviour, and worldview!

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