7 Quick Q&A's about Positive Psychology, Education & Supporting Change
What is, and isn't positive psychology? How can educators and parents use it as a tool? And how can positive psychology help students prepare for change?
Amba Brown, positive psychology author of the positive transitioning book series, 'Finding Your Path', answers 7 basic questions to help us understand these questions.
1. How would you define positive psychology?
While 'Traditional Psychology' focuses on our weaknesses, 'Positive Psychology' focuses on our strengths. Positive Psychology is targeted towards improving the lives of all individuals and finding ways we can increase our wellbeing.
2. What do you think are some misconceptions people have about positive psychology?
The most common misconception is that positive psychology is only about being positive, but it’s much more than this.
The goal is, in fact, to flourish as humans and communities, which can be achieved by understanding our Character Strengths and the PERMA model. PERMA includes the five building blocks – Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment. More information here.
3. How do you think college students could best apply positive psychology?
I have lots to say on this! For those interested, a great start would be reading an article I wrote for PositivePsychology.com that addresses this at length here.
4. What are some practices that students can adapt to everyday life?
5. How do you think parents and their students can begin a dialogue about positive psychology?
Young children have the intelligence and ability to learn about positive psychology and well-being strategies. I believe it's important we start making this a priority.
Some strategies parents can undertake include;
Have open conversations with children about their experiences,
Identify the child's character strengths and find ways to implement them,
Teach, and encourage, children to engage in positive coping strategies, such as breathing exercises during times of stress.
6. What is positive education?
'Positive education' is education for both traditional skills and for happiness.
The high global prevalence of depression amongst young people and the synergy between learning and positive emotion all support the idea that skills for happiness should be taught in school.
Here's a short video from IPEN's Director, Emily Larson explaining all!
More information about Positive Education here.
7. What else would you like people who are in a transitional phase of their life to know about positive psychology?
Making life transitions is part of being human - we all do this. However, "Positive Transitioning" is something we can achieve with access to relevant information and an optimal mindset.
In other words, ways we can best prepare individuals to navigate new beginnings. We do this by preparing them emotionally, practically and socially for their specific transition. When navigating a life transition, or supporting a child through theirs, refer to the GPS framework. Full article here.
Essentially, this framework explores the below three pillars:
1. Guiding Pillar: Cover off the practicalities. Learn all you can about the new phase to build confidence.
2. Psychological Pillar: Build your psychological toolkit and develop a growth mindset.
3. Social Pillar: Allow yourself time to make new social connections. Cultivating a sense of belonging in your new environment, has found to increase grades, persistence and general well-being.
When these transitions are a positive, happy experience, it can become the foundation of many years of academic and social future success! It has also been found to be vital to the development of students' self-esteem and academic self-competence as well as preventative of potential anti-social behavior, substance misuse, depression, and suicide.
As educators and parents, you have a very important role to play in supporting the child.
We wish you and your child/student a positive transition to their next stage in life!