There are just days in your life when you feel like you woke up on the wrong side of the bed. You spilled coffee on your shirt, you’re stuck in traffic, you left your wallet at home, or you accidentally put pickles on your ham and cheese sandwich. How you react to these events may vary depending on your point of view or perspective. Generally, you would think that you were having a bad day. You could get angry and frustrated, curse the wind for having such a rough day, or not talk to anybody because you are grumpy. You could also be the kind of person who can easily shrug these off, carry on, and think that it doesn’t really matter. Several researches and experiments have been conducted to determine how the brain reacts to negative things. Scientists have been trying to prove that the overt acts you make or the feelings you develop after something negative has been said or done to you are necessarily connected with your brain’s scientific behavior.
Human beings have negativity bias. This means that you have the tendency to focus on what frightens you or what threatens you. Your brain has the tendency to build greater sensitivity to awful and unpleasant things. It reacts more strongly to negative stimuli. Take as an example a Person A randomly scrolling through his Facebook feed. When he sees a picture of a delicious-looking plate of sushi, his reaction is normal. But when he sees a picture of a badly-beaten up dog, his negative feelings are stirred. Such negativity bias is not really a surprising trait of humans. The bias is almost automatic when something unpleasant comes along the way because human beings have the natural instinct of staying away from anything harmful. However, this could get in the way of you living your life without worrying or fearing too much. As an adult, you are at a better position to evaluate bad situations thrown your way. Children, on the other hand, still find this quite challenging as they are still in their formation years. As a teacher, you have to be careful of the things said and done in the classroom, and you have to know how to deal with a situation where a child’s negative feelings are aroused. To better understand this, let’s talk about apparent ways on how a child, or a child’s brain for that matter, reacts to negativity.
- Negative things could trigger a child’s anxiety or fear. Because of the brain’s scientific structure, negative stimuli produce more neural activity than the neutral and positive ones. The more frequent a child sees or hears something negative, the more susceptible he is to developing anxiety disorders or a lot of fears. Thanks to the amygdala, the almond-shaped region of the brain, negativity is stored more easily than positivity. And when a child gets to keep too many negative memories and thoughts, he will not be able to attain a balanced life. He will not feel accomplished, or he will always doubt the good.
- He would have low self-esteem. It is true that happier people are more capable of reacting to negativity in a more positive way. Children, however, seem quite too young to fully understand what it means to be happy. Therefore, they cannot deliberately make the choice to be happy each single day they get out of bed. Add to that the fact that children are still in the process of formation. This means that the environment where they are raised is a big factor as regards their attitude and mindset. If a child often hears negative things about himself, it is not improbable that he will have low self-esteem. He will doubt his capabilities and he will often wonder about his worth. It could get worse when he starts to lose faith in himself and even in other people.
- There is the fear of instilling pessimism in a child rather than optimism. Too much building of walls so that he could save himself from threats and fears could actually make him lose buckets of hope along the way. Even the most minute details could upset him. He would not be able to see the world as a bright and happy place. He would not be able to make sense of the tough times he has to go through because he would easily give in to the thought that his whole life is a joke. He will not be able to realize that in life, it is not all good stuff, but it is not all bad stuff either. Even the way he sees positive things could be greatly affected.
- Negative things cause brain disruptions, and one of the worst effects to a person could be depression. This mental disorder is not uncommon these days. As a matter of fact, the number of people who experience depression has increased over the past years and continues to rise up to today. Depression could also be associated with a person’s childhood. If he does not experience love at home, is being cursed a lot, is bullied at school, or is left out of place, he could be affected tremendously. His growth could have setbacks, and his emotional intelligence could be obscured.
- He could live an imbalanced life. The secret to a good life is a balanced life. Since the brain reacts more attentively to negativity, it is a bit difficult to offset this. Research has it that for every negative thing that happens, five positive things have to compensate for it in order for a person to live a balanced life. People who have attained balance have the same amount of neural energy with negative stimuli as the people who have not attained balance yet. This goes to show that even happier and more balanced people are aware of the negative things that are happening around them. They just really know how to react to these. In the classroom, it is all right to reprimand, give negative feedbacks, or expose a child to a negative thing. You just have to make sure that this does not happen all the time, or else he will have more difficulty finding the balance.
At the end of the day, it’s all just a matter of perspective. Teach the child to view things objectively. Teach him the ability to isolate himself from the situation and find ways to fix or solve problems if need be. Show him that there is always a brighter side to everything he will experience in life. Lead him to live a healthy and balanced life.