Applied Positive Psychology

Positive Psychology Interventions for Students

Today’s young generation face a lot situation at a very early stage in their life. It can be family related issues, financial issues, heath issues and other environmental and social issues. These kinds of issues can be the main cause of stress and anxiety among the children within the age group of 12-19 years. Positive psychology is very essential for mental as well as physical growth of a child, providing them with positive environment at home and positive education can help in achieving that goal. For instance in Australia, one out of three students are facing moderate or high level of anxiety and depression and around 25% of the young generation in Australia suffers from mental disorders (Australian Government Office For Youth, 2009). Distress can presented in many ways and it is found that approximately 25% of youth in Australia experience symptoms of depression, 14% experience anxiety, 32% suffer from body shamming issues (Mission Australia, 2007) and 13% experienced substance abuse behavior. Children are also pressurized by their parents to perform best in their assessment and are increasingly asked to sit in competitive exams to evaluate their aptitude for making better career choices and meet educational standards both nationally and internationally (Connolly, 2012).

Further researchers have discovered that immediately after finishing high school, more students are enrolling for competitive exams for admission in top universities. It was estimated that around 20 million of students are currently studying at tertiary level in USA with an increase of 5 million since 2000 (National Center for Education Statistics, 2016). In UK, there was a 6.4% increase in the number of tertiary level of students from 2003 to 2013 (Universities UK, 2014). Now a day’s students are exposed to academic stress at a very young age and over a period of time which may adversely affect their mental as well as physical growth. Schools play an essential part in the overall development of a student, it assists them to develop awareness, social and emotional skills and proper initiatives must be taken to adopt new and upgraded education policies in order to enhance their growth. Additional efforts should be done to improve their mental wellbeing by enhancing their skill set and boosting their confidence to face hard times in life instead of comparing and criticizing them on the basis of their total marks and fractions. “Wellbeing” is define as the state of feeling good and functioning well (Hurpper & Johnson, 2010).

Moreover the current situation of COVID-19 has also burdened young children with mental stress and depression as they are not able to express their actual emotions. Therefore, education system must put emphasis on positive psychology and positive education so that children are able learn and understand the importance of wellbeing, are able to learn new social and emotional skills to enhance their growth without being pressurized and must take initiatives to implement strategies that will have a positive impact on the students.

Positive Psychology and Positive Education

Positive psychology aim to diminish the negative thought that might exists and promotes positivity in life (Seligman, 2000). There several ways in which positive psychology has been described, but the most common definition in this field is: “Positive Psychology is the scientific study of what makes life worth living” (Peterson, 2008). In other words Positive Psychology is the scientific study in which we study human behavior and feelings in order to focus on his/her strengths instead of weaknesses and embrace the positivity in life instead of repairing the bad situations (Peterson, 2008). In short positive psychology mainly focuses on positive experience (happiness), positive state and traits (gratitude) and positive institution (applying positive principals within entire organization and institution). Many interventions have been taken since 1930s related to positive psychology in schools for student well being, for example: happiness is considered to be end goal of education (Kristjansson, 2012). Many people working in education department are concerned about student’ wellbeing, Positive Education is not groundbreaking discovery but it ensures progress in traditional education system which was required long time ago.

Many teachers believe that education is related to metal heath and well being of the student and as described by Maslow’s hierarchy needs (1943), focuses on emotional support when operating at the higher level of management such as learning. Positive Education not only focuses on academic achievements but also focus to create an environment that will foster emotional growth of the student. Classroom conversation is considered to be the most important thing to improve student engagement and participation in various activities. One way of increasing classroom conversation is by applying QQTP (Question, Quotation and Taking Points) approach, which ensure that student, not only read their previous assignments but are also prepared for active discussion in the class rather than listening to others. Another way of improving students’ participation is to evaluate them on the basis of their participation but this can also have a disadvantage for students who are naturally shy and conservative. Positive Education should not only focus on the student happiness but also teachers’ happiness. The happy teacher will have a direct impact on the students by helping them in better learning and growing process.

If teacher are being asked to increase their workload by fulfilling academic as well as emotional needs of their students, then initiatives must be taken to improve their wellbeing and happiness as well because happy teachers are directly proportionate to happy students. Recent researches have also discovered that teacher income can also impact the wellbeing of the students; teacher who feels that are being underpaid will not be motivated and further will not motivate their students to aspire and achieve higher goals in life. On the other hand teachers who are paid well have more positive emotional impact on their students (Cassidy, 2017). Another yet most common way to improve student mental health is by consoling sessions and personality development classes held at school which will not only promote positive thoughts and will also build self esteem of the student. Teenage students must also practice keeping a journal so that they could reflect their actual emotion without being pressurized by external factors and evaluate their strengths and work on their weaknesses. They should write at least three things they are grateful for and their positive experiences, this practice has shown many positive outcome and increases the feeling of gratitude in the mind of students.

Implementation of Two Positive Psychology Interventions

Young generation today is not only undergoing from an age of technology transformation where they are exposed not only with too much of information and other exposures. But also have huge social pressure direct or indirect to behave soundly and match the old and the new. All these are expected from them to do in environment which is highly stressful because of the family relations, mental and social surrounding like stress of competition in workplace , schools, colleges and at home also. They feel that are judged at each and every act of their life, they want to be boundary less but due to social boundaries they become restless, depressed, agitated and disturbed. Sometimes they get anti of the society and slowly and slowly their mental health is disturbed and affected badly.

One place where children spend significant part of their life is school, they learn more in school than at home. They not only learn good things but unfortunately sometimes bad things also. School prepares them to fight as winner in their life or it may also push it to be a looser many cases. So mental education along with the theoretical education is also important to be part of the school curriculum. Secondary school and youth are when kids are learning and developing at a fast rate and have the chance to understand their own rising one of a kind qualities and temperance’s (Martin, 2017). In the twenty-first century, schools are getting more engaged upon "entire understudy learning", the possibility that social and enthusiastic abilities are basic with the goal for understudies to cultivate important and useful associations inside their locale as youthful grown-ups (Waters, 2011). Thusly, the school is progressively turning into a spot where prosperity and thriving are viewed as a need, and the rising worries around the condition of youth psychological wellness and cultural weights influencing young people are further driving these changes (Sanghani et al., 2013).).

Adolescents now a days are prone to developing stress which is maladaptive coping mechanism. The Academic Pressure which they are exposed to, biologically and socially all these has the potential to cause huge stress . it was found in many Research that increased stress and its negative impact has affected teens in poor and flawed decision making and many behaviour issue. They also suffer from poor concentration and learning problems.

It has likewise been discovered that psychological wellness issues experienced during puberty might be a pre-cursor for dysfunctional behaviour sometime down the road; and here in Australia it is accounted for that a concerning 21.2% of youths experience side effects that show plausible psychological sickness (Black Dog Institute & Mission Australia: Youth Mental Health Report, 2014).

In the words of Fernandez-Dominguez: “Our schools are often a place of suffering for teachers and students. For some, a source of stress and frustration; for others, a time of boredom and disengagement with life. Often school promotes competitiveness, performance, passivity, blind compliance and obedience, forgetting at times that students are individuals, with their own values, skills, needs and limits”. (2009, p. 249).

Positive psychology works by improving on what is already there and extends its help by cultivating inner strengths. As defined by (Gable and Haidt, 2005)

“Positive psychology is the study of conditions and processes that contribute to flourishing or optimal functioning of people, groups, and institutions.”

The above comment is very important for today’s young generation to improve and work in their inner strengths. Strategies which can be implemented in school education may be:-

Gratitude

Steve Maraboli said, “If you want to find happiness, find gratitude” – which is the exact target of gratitude based intervention. It evokes a strong feeling and aura of positivity in a person who pays gratitude and who receives it. (Schueller & Parks, 2013).

Gratitude inventions are of two types:

  • Practices of Self –Reflections, e.g writing about gratitude article which can be kept by Students themselves as a tool of self-expression
  • Interactive methods where we actively express our gratitude to others by saying ‘thank you,’ giving small tokens of appreciation, or paying gratitude visits.

Regardless of what kind of training we follow, appreciation intercessions have demonstrated advantages in expanding bliss and fulfilment (Wood, Froh, and Geraghty, 2010). It is such an amazing feeling, that by only recognizing and naming the occurrences and the individuals we might want to thank, we can feel more positive and propelled from within (Emmons and McCullough, 2003; Seligman, Steen, Park, and Peterson, 2005)

Implementation is School

Gratitude as part of school education structure will help student to open up and discuss more and more about themselves, the curriculum has to be designed in such a way that student gets a chance to know about their own self and are able to reflect and interact with others. More they will interact and discuss about the issues more they will feel self-relaxed, empowered and stress free. Because then they will the feeling to express freely. School should encourage students to share their opinion about other’s work as well not as a critic but in a constructive way. Teacher should be able to guide kids and show them the positive direction toward good things in life instead only result oriented studies. Focus of Education in school to be to make a child mentally strong to deal with difficult situations and handle them positively instead of mere theoretical concept learning.

Studies have indicated rehearsing appreciation practices normally upgrade awareness and we can get more delight from social connections (Ryan and Deci, 2001).

Increasing Self-Compassion

The VIA order, in any case, gives a diversely significant structure for 'instructing the heart' (Linkins et al., 2015, p. 65)

These positive characters aren't inborn—they're outer develops that should be sustained. The objective of positive training is to uncover a kid's mix of character qualities and to build up their capacity to successfully draw in those qualities (Linkins et al., 2015).

It must be the responsibility of the school to develop and nurture the human value of love and compassion in the children. Aim of the education should not be only to get the high score or grades but children should also be rated and ranked on the basis of their behaviour and other social and human values. Focus should not only be on the IQ of the kids but also should be on Mental Health of the kids. The School also design some key performance indicators like may some projects based on these intervention and then grading them.

Yoga, Meditation etc. can also be helpful to implemented to make students stress free and mentally strong and fit.

Empathy-based interventions focus on building relationships through effective communication, broadened perception, and bridging the gap between self and others ( (Davis, 2004)

“The core principle behind this is to let us understand others’ perspective and build a strong connection to them”. (Hodges, Clark, & Myers,, 2011)

 There are overwhelming pieces of evidence and research findings that suggest the effectiveness and efficacy of positive psychology interventions. However, why they work so well, and how their effects are so deep-rooted is still a vast area of study.

Not only Qualitative changes but quantitatively also positive results were can be seen if implemented and research is conducted on the various schools.

There was an investigation led on an example size of 695, and every one of the members was relegated to either an exploratory gathering or a controlled gathering. Results demonstrated that emotional sentiments of prosperity fundamentally improved from pre-to post-mediation, showing the viability of the PPIs, all things considered (Wellenzohn, 2016) 

References for Applied Positive Psychology

Chowdhury, M. R. (2020, July). Retrieved from https://positivepsychology.com/positive-psychology-interventions/

Davis, e. a. (2004).

Hodges, Clark, S., & Myers,, B. (2011). Retrieved from https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2010-26315-012

Wellenzohn, S. P. (2016). Retrieved from How do positive psychology interventions work? A short-term placebo-controlled humor-based study on the role of the time focus

Fernandez, D. (2009). Building our happiness to help build it. Interuniversity Magazine of Teacher Training. 23(3), 231-269. Retrieved from https://www.aufop.com/aufop/home/

19 Best Positive Psychology Interventions + How to Apply Them. (2019, July 10). Retrieved from PositivePsychology.com website: https://positivepsychology.com/positive-psychology-interventions/

‌ Australian Government Office for Youth. (2009). State of Australia’s young people. Social Policy Research Centre, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. Retrieved from http://www.deewr.gov.au/Youth/OfficeForYouth/Documents/StateofYoungPeople.pdf

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2007). Young Australians: Their health and wellbeing 2007. Cat. no. PHE 87. Canberra: Author. Retrieved from http://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/ DownloadAsset.aspx?id=6442459814

Huppert, F., & Johnson, D. (2010). A controlled trial of mindfulness training in schools: The importance of practice for an impact on well-being. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 5, 264–274

Jackson, A., & Davis, G. A. (2000). Turning Points 2000: Educating Adolescents in the 21st Century. Williston, VT: Teachers College Press

Noddings, N. (1995). A morally defensible mission for schools in the twenty first century. The Phi Delta Kappan, 76, 365–368.

Peterson, C. (2006). A primer in positive psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.

 Peterson, C., Ruch, W., Beermann, U., Park, N., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2007). Strengths of character, orientations to happiness, and life satisfaction. Journal of Positive Psychology, 2, 149–156.

 Peterson, C., & Seligman, M., (2004). The VIA classification of strengths. Cincinnati: Values in Action Institute.

Sanghani, J., Upadhyay, U., & Sharma, S. (2013). Positive Psychology intervention in education well-being and achievement. Indian Journal of Positive Psychology, 4(2), 251-257. Retrieved from http://www.iahrw.com/journal.php?numb=1

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