Ever wondered how to take a positive parenting experiences and, like a seed, nurture and grow it? Research suggests that focusing on the positive...results in more positive behaviours. We can also add new behaviours into our “garden” by learning from other people’s strong experiences and stories.
South Vancouver Family Place is committed to celebrating the strength and resilience of families in order to foster Heart-Mind well-being. Their angle? A visual arts and storytelling project to promote Heart-Mind Well-being: Growing a Tree of Empathy.
The project, that lasted over a number of weeks, became a tree of Heart-Mind well-being strategies! Staff and parents worked together to create five paper cut outs, each representing a positive human quality; gets along with others, compassionate and kind, solves problems peacefully, secure and calm, and alert and engaged. Families personalized each cut out by gluing one side with a photo or picture, and, on the flip side, capturing a caption or story about how they practiced this quality in their family. The cut-outs, once complete, were hung from the branches of a huge tree mural in the Family Place.
“What I enjoyed most about the project was giving our families an opportunity to share with us what they are already doing to educate both the hearts & minds of their children.” Staff Member
Want to do your own Heart-Mind Project? Be intentional and explicit in a number of ways:
Identify the Heart-Mind qualities your project will promote.
Talk to all participants about which elements of your project will enhance Heart-Mind well-being.
Identify how you will know whether or not these Heart-Mind qualities are enhanced?
Over time, continue talking about what evidence you are seeing that your project is having a positive impact on Heart- Mind well-being.
Celebrate your success! Share your discoveries with others.
The idea that focusing on the positive increases the probability of more positive behaviours is rooted in the "broaden and build" theory of positive emotions.
The theory suggests that positive emotions including joy, interest, contentment and love spark actions. "Joy sparks the urge to play, interest sparks the urge to explore, contentment sparks the urge to savour and integrate, and love sparks a recurring cycle of each of thise urges within safe, close relationships." (Fredrickson, 2004)
According to the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, the combination of supportive relationships, self-help skills and positive experiences creates a resilient foundation for children.
Dr. Mark Greenberg, developmental psychologist, suggests helping a child understand and express their emotions using words. Language and emotional awareness are linked.