Positive psychology and its impact on well-being!

Positive psychology is a relative new field in psychology terms and has only been around for approximately 30 years. The concept is that if we do not recognise and value key positive traits within our lives, it impacts negatively on mental health and well-being. The two most important positive psychological traits that we all need to check in with and register as often as possible are gratitude and hope.

Gratitude is important as it keeps us in tune with things that are valued and important in our lives. It is interesting how we teach children to say thank you from a very early age, however this is just a word. Gratitude is a state of mind which supports self-esteem in the fact that we feel valued due to the recognition of the valuable things around us. In neuroscience terms learning to become mindfully grateful releases the same chemicals in the brain as a prescribed ant-depressant. So by recognising the importance of gratitude can have huge effects on the brain and improved mood and well-being.

Hope is also essential as it lights the future with positivity. Depression is most often associated with feelings of hopelessness as the person involved cannot see anything good ahead. In the work that we do with children and young people it is essential that we encourage hope at all times. This is not about being overly optimistic as that can in fact alienate real feelings by suggesting that things can be changed quickly.

Instilling feelings of hope is about high-lighting future possibilities and helping children recognise their role in creating their own positive future through motivational support.

By understanding the value of these key psychological concepts you will hopefully begin to reflect on your dialogue with young people in your care and see the difference that the application of positive psychology can make. Don’t forget to register any positive changes and be grateful for the small differences that happen for you, the young people and the learning that is happening in your classroom environment.

Little actions that can help in a big way!

  • Listen to what children and young people are saying and incorporate hopeful dialogue whenever possible


  • Stop and think before you engage in any difficult dialogue. If what you are saying isn’t helping them, teaching them or making them feel better question as to whether you need to say it


  • Provide praise as often as possible as this fosters gratitude. When providing praise ask them whenever possible how it makes them feel. Then suggest that they lock it away inside them so that can go back to it when they need to feel something lovely. This instils feelings of value which accelerates a grateful mind-set


Next time: Teaching children with low self-esteem