We live in a hectic, stressful world that makes it easy to be pessimistic and depressed. However, these attitudes aren’t helpful and can actually be harmful. Every parent wants their children to be happy, healthy and optimistic about their future, but sometimes can lose sight of how to accomplish that state of mind. Kids who are often sullen and dejected can eventually end up depressed, so it’s important to do what you can as a parent to help prevent that from happening. Here are 10 ways to make sure you are raising an optimist and not a pessimist.
- Affection – The first step is to show your children tons of affection. Knowing they are loved and cared for is a big part of helping kids deal with adversity. Failures in life are easier to take when they know they are loved.
- Praise – Always praise your child’s accomplishments and be specific when you do. Give them feedback that links their achievements to what they did to accomplish it. An example would be to state how all the extra studying paid off with a good grade on a test.
- Monitor – Pay attention to what your child is watching on television, the games they play and the books they read. You should monitor their activities to make sure they’re not exposed to too many bad influences. Also, make sure they’re not attempting to accomplish too much, as taking on more than they can reasonably handle can set them up for failure.
- Be an example – Children will often mirror their parent’s attitudes, so be a good example. Kids will only learn to be optimistic if you show them how. Parents who are continually complaining or are pessimistic will pass those traits on to their children.
- Reinforcement – When your child expresses optimism, be sure to comment on their great attitude. This positive reinforcement will put the emphasis on the desired behavior instead of focusing on the negative.
- Accentuate the positive – When something bad happens, always try to find the bright side. If bad weather cancels an event, find something fun to do instead. Accentuate the positive by commenting how you wouldn’t have had so much fun if the picnic wasn’t cancelled.
- Thought catching – Teach children how to do thought catching to prevent negative behavior. When something bad happens ask them what thoughts they had so they’re aware of them and can capture the negativity. Kids often have negative thoughts without ever realizing it.
- Minimize failures – Losing a championship or failing a test may seem like the end of the world, but it never is. Parents can raise optimists if they are successful at minimizing failures by putting them into perspective. Point out that life goes on and there will be endless opportunities down the road.
- Promote success – Encourage kids with age appropriate activities they are able to excel at to promote success. Having unrealistic expectations only sets children up for failure, so make sure they’re not trying to do too much.
- Laugh – The best way to encourage an optimistic attitude is with lots of laughter. Teach children how to laugh at themselves and not take everything so seriously. Laughing is the best way to diffuse a troubling situation.
Life is full of challenges and failures, so an optimistic attitude will go a long way to help your children deal with problems as they grow up. As adults, having this optimism will be an important way for them to achieve success and bounce back from failures. A positive outlook will help them in personal relationships and they can lead happy lives with better mental and physical health.