Optimism for 2009
Whenever anybody makes New Year's resolutions, they are based on optimistic thoughts for change. It's an "I can" approach to overcoming life challenges. Optimism can be defined as the ability to view the bright side, or positive aspects, of any situation. Pessimism, on the other hand, is the belief that life is unfavorable and can get only worse. In starting the new year, why not as a Parent Investor make a commitment in encouraging optimism, a learned social and cognitive skill, that children can definitely learn.
Positive benefits of optimism:
How Children Can Learn to be Optimistic
- Creates better health in individuals
- Experience less stress in life
- More successful in school, work, and athletics
- Less likely to suffer from depression
- Less anxious
- Better problem solvers
Optimism is a learnable skill and it can start right in your home. Children tend to learn just by observing and following their parents and other members of the family. The way in which you act and behave will be the ultimate yardstick. The more optimistic and positive you are the more the probability of your children learning and mastering optimism.
1. Parental affection can influence your child's outlook on life. Parental affection and care helps children develop trust in the world. When children have a secure base in their parents, they perceive the world as a good place to take risks and be more optimistic in their choices.
2. Model optimistic explanations of events and vocabulary. Optimists use words that convey permanence that describe the causes of good events like "always" or "sometimes". Children who believe their successes have permanent reasons to it will continue to be more resilient. Pessimists see temporary reasons for good events, tend to believe a success to an event was a fluke, and use words like "never".
3. Give opportunities for children to take risks and be ok if they make mistakes. Children need to learn how to cope with both frustration and challenging events. Research shows that children who are protected from failure and adversity do not get a chance to learn the skill of optimism. Kids need to learn from mistakes to deal with how they can overcome potential challenges. Show them how failures are just opportunities to learn from and how they can be turned around in an advantageous way.
Ask Dr. Andie
Questions can be submitted through the website and if possible, will be answered either in the Q&A section or in the Power2Relate Newsletter.
I would consider myself an optimist but my husband is a pessimist. Does that mean that our children have a 50-50 chance to be optimist?
Children learn through imitation, both consciously and unconsciously. So in your family, they will see both views: a glass half- full or the glass half- empty. However, awareness of how one thinks, whether it's either optimist or pessimistic, is a key factor. If a parent is aware that their pessimistic perspectives will affect their children's outlook on life, they can always learn how to be more optimistic for the benefit of their children. The good news is that optimism is a cognitive learned ability both for adults and for children. As an optimist, tune into your child's vocabulary and listen for words or phrases that convey more pessimism and help them change it to more optimistic sayings. For example: "I never can do anything right" to "Today I'm having some trouble with this activity, but I'll learn how to get better at it" or "I'm a failure at everything" to "Sometimes things are harder for me but I'm getting better at it". I'm optimistic that that in your family the glass half-full approach will prevail!