Good morning, Sunshine! Thanks for reading our blog today!
(Imagine this said in the cheeriest voice possible in your head)
That’s a lot of perkiness, right? Ha! Well, the world needs optimists today more than ever. As parents, we really want our children to believe that things can and WILL get better. Research shows that optimists, who believe they can achieve success, are more able to do so. In fact, optimists are less likely to get depressed, get fewer illnesses, have longer relationships, and even live longer (Source: Ahaparenting.com).
“Optimism. It’s not just a mind-set. It is behavior.” ~ Larry Elder
HOW DO WE CREATE OPTIMISM?
It feels a bit overwhelming, right? Well, there is some evidence that optimism is an inherited trait, and we know there is a biological basis to depression as well as to a tendency to be upbeat. Luckily, there is ALSO evidence, however, that we learn at an early age how to view the world.
FREEBIE ALERT: Create optimism in your household but planning things to look forward to in the months ahead with our Family Goals Monthly Planning Template! Just the fun process of brainstorming can be an optimistic activity for your family. We might not have all the answers right now, and things may look a little differently for a while, but we can still plan for fun activities!
PRACTICE MODELING OPTIMISM
Do you say things like “I know we’ll find a parking space soon!” or “We’ll NEVER find a parking space! I KNEW this would happen!”? Your view of the world is communicated to your child daily. One thing is for sure: They are ALWAYS watching you. If you want to help your child become more optimistic, experiment with practicing to be more optimistic yourself.
CONFRONT YOUR OWN NEGATIVE SELF-TALK
Do you say things in front of your child like, “I’m not sure Mrs. C will call me back about your playdate. I’m not sure she likes me.” or “We can try to schedule that playdate, but I have some fun ideas if it doesn’t work out today!”?
The problem with self talk is that when you hear it, you believe it, and the little people around you pick up on that. Just because you are telling yourself something does not mean it’s true. There are many ways to interpret events, and some are much healthier and OPTIMISTIC in thinking than others.
BOOK RECOMMENDATION: The Optimistic Child – A Proven Program to Safeguard Children Against Depression and Build Lifelong Resilience
By: Martin Seligman, Ph. D.
HELP CULTIVATE OPTIMISTIC THINKING
Try working through situations and feelings in “live time” with your children as challenges occur in their daily lives at school, with friends, or in an argument with a sibling:
- Are there actions you could or can take to change the situation? (As opposed to “I am a victim here.”)
- What are the specific reasons something happened? (As opposed to “Everything always goes wrong.”)
- What caused you to get to this moment of frustration, anger, upset? Sometimes you can affect those factors, which means you can make the outcome better. Sometimes you can’t affect those reasons, but that means they are not your fault. (As opposed to “Bad things just happen to me” or “Life is just out to get me.”)
Do you have a tip on how to help RAISE OPTIMISTIC CHILDREN? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below, we love to hear from you!
Sarah Cavanaugh is a Marketing, PR and Communications Specialist with over 25 years of experience writing, building effective marketing campaigns, and creating brand awareness. Sarah can usually be found exercising, drinking coffee and watching Saturday Night Live skits on YouTube. She lives with her two active teens and husband in Grand Rapids. Find her at www.CavanaughCommunications.com.