Parents! Be Optimistic!!
Every skill a child learns, whether it is walking, how
to ride a bike, play carom or the video game requires optimism, or the ability to try
again after a setback
It is very easy, even for a child, to become discouraged or
embarrassed on an initial setback, that is why teaching a child to think optimistically is
vital. But how does optimism take root, and how can parents nurture it in their children?
The first step is to believe that optimism is a learned skill, just like putting on socks
or tying the school tie.
Accentuate the Positive
According to psychologists; Optimism's seeds are planted early. One can characterizes
people as optimistic or pessimistic by examining how they view life experiences.
Optimists tend to explain their troubles as specific events that are short-lived
and controllable, while Pessimists see problems as more general, permanent and
Parents and other family members play a life-changing role by helping shape a child's
worldview. You can move your child in a more positive direction by teaching what these
experts call flexible optimism, or the ability to use positive thinking
judiciously.Positive attitude and persistence always pays and like so many other things
parents have to inculcate this in their child.
Here are some guidelines to get you started:
Teach by example:
"The first and most important step a parent needs to make is to become
optimistic," A child with an optimistic mother, in particular, tends to be more
How can you model optimism? Start by making an effort to explain disappointment as limited
in scope and impact. For example, if you're handling a poor grade, focus on his future
potential with statements like, "Maybe you missed out this time, and it was probably
because of that project you didn't finish. You should work even harder to prove that you
are worth much more" Avoid far-reaching pessimistic statements like, "My poor
son, his effort is never recognised" or "I think that teacher does not like
Since a child tends to believe the criticisms, especially from parents, they can
become the basis of how he explains future successes and failures. But if you limit your
comment to specific, controllable behaviors, he'll also look at his failures as minor
setbacks. For instance, explaining a lost team event by saying, "Your team could have
used some more practice," is more effective than, "Don't worry, you're just not
good at cricket, we shall try other games."
Directing criticism toward a child's inherent abilities encourages him to interpret a
failure in one area too broadly, an attitude that not only breeds pessimism, but can also
become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Watch, listen and learn:
Since every childhood has its share of lost games, disappointing grades and shifting
friendships, pay careful attention to how your child reacts to failure. It all boils down
to what happens after the setback. If a child tries hard to get good grades and still gets
bad grades, does she respond by giving up on good grades, thinking she's not very smart,
or does she want to find a better tutor?
If your child seems to stick with one
particular negative explanation of an event, try pointing out more positive alternatives. Maybe she didn't score well on the test because she didn't study
hard enough or studied too late the night before. By suggesting more optimistic reasons
for failures, you give her concrete proof that she does have some control over events in
Tune in to crises:
A child who experiences many difficult life events -- from deaths in the family to
poverty -- tends to look at life more pessimistically. While you can't always control the
crisis itself, you can offer extra support during times of stress.
If there is frequent infighting between parents, they should be aware of your child's
vulnerability. Take more time to talk and remind him that not everything bad is permanent,
STRIKE A BALANCE:
Despite the rewards of optimism being unrealistically positive, it can be dangerous
too. Excessive optimism can be harmful, especially among teen-agers, who take many risks.
Train your child to take a positive approach when the goal is achievement, as in school,
sports and other extra-curricular activities.
Advise a healthy dose of pessimism, however, when he/she's
considering risky choices.
All of this positive outlook stuff may sound like a lot of
work, but the benefits of teaching flexible optimism don't just accrue to your kids. They
also help you build a more successful and healthy family -- which, in the end, is what GrowingWell.com
is all about.
Do write back telling us whether you agree to this or not? Send in your
opinions at firstname.lastname@example.org