How to raise an optimistic child


We all want our children to feel positive about life and unafraid to take on new challenges and experiences, but it can be difficult in a world where we’re exposed to tragic events on the news 24/7. This can lead to feeling overwhelmed, but it’s important we impress upon our children the sense that they have the power to influence outcomes. Here an independent school in Hertfordshire outlines some of the ways you can help your child approach life positively as they forge their own path through the world. 

Challenge pessimistic attitudes

If your child has a tendency to focus on the bad things that have happened to them or presume the worst about future events, try to challenge this attitude whenever you can. Ask them to flip their thought patterns around and think about the positive things that might come from a situation; for example, if your child is starting a new club and concerned they won’t make any friends, ask them to ponder what it might feel like if they do make new friends. This will help get them into the habit of thinking about more positive possibilities. It’s also a good idea to remind them that they can consciously influence the outcome by, for example, striking up conversations with people they meet and making the effort to get to know them. 

How to raise an optimistic child
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Teach them about optimism

It’s worth explaining to your child that we all have a choice about how we perceive situations, and often there’s a difference between the reality of them and the stories we tell ourselves about them. If your child faces a disappointment or setback, remind them that instances such as these are usually temporary rather than something which will permanently blight their life – help them see that whatever is happening to them won’t be forever. Being able to view the situation as an isolated incident, rather than indicative of their perceived general bad luck, will help them be more positive. Your child might also have a tendency to take setbacks personally; counteract this by pointing out that other people experience similar challenges as well and have to work through them. One of the most important aspects of optimism to teach is that we all have the power to rectify things that have gone wrong in our lives, or at the very least to bounce back from disappointment and not let it deter us from our overall goals.  

Model optimism yourself

 One of the best ways to teach optimism is to demonstrate it yourself and let your child see you approaching obstacles with a positive attitude. Try to be conscious of how you talk around them to make sure you’re not modelling negativity instead. You could get your child involved in helping you find the bright side to challenging or disappointing situations and make a game of it. Try not to complain too much, for example, if you’re waiting for a long time in the supermarket queue, point out to your child that it’s an opportunity to observe people and have a conversation, especially if there’s no particular need for you to rush.  You could also make a regular habit of going round the dinner table at mealtimes and each person identifying some good things that happened to them that day. This will get everyone into the habit of reframing difficult situations in a positive way and practising gratitude for all the good things they do have, rather than dwelling on the negatives or what they lack. 

Optimism isn’t a fixed characteristic – it’s a habit which can be learnt and practised. It just takes a little bit of time and effort, but it will pay off in the long run when you see your child approaching challenges with a positive mindset and not letting setbacks derail them. 

Featured Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

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