How to Nurture Optimism!
Optimism and a generally positive outlook is perhaps the single best character trait to nurture in your children. Why?
Because optimism works like a shield to protect and buffer children (and adults) from the negative impact of difficult and painful life moments. More importantly, optimism is a resource that leads to better problem solving, better relationships, longer marriages, more life success and ultimately—more fulfillments.
Four Keys to Building Optimism and Happiness
Many parents wonder how to best help their children to be happy and optimistic. Unfortunately, these are not traits we can just give to our children, any more than we can give them victory or success; they have to attain those things on their own.
But this does not mean we have no influence on their happiness or optimism! We can help to nurture these traits with the correct parenting choices. Here’s how:
Key 1: Walk the Talk of an Optimistic Parent
This is the starting point for most traits we want to see emerge with our children. We first must be that person we want to see in our children.
So…to nurture optimism and happiness…we need to make certain we don’t spend our time talking about what went wrong today. Instead, we need to show our children that we find the best in others, in difficult situations, and in most aspects of our lives.
If we do this, we now start on a very positive foundation.
Key 2: Invest Ourselves in Positive Moments
When our children are giggling, laughing and enjoying their lives…invest your time in these moments. Stop what you are doing, and add your smile, or laugh or giggle.
When your child smiles as they learn a new concept, make sure that moment is not ignored.
When siblings are getting along, these are the moments to catch with your attention — not the problem moments of bickering and arguing.
As we follow this approach, we actually use our attention to nurture those positive emotions that help to build a more optimistic outlook.
Key 3: Allow Moments of Frustration and Hurt without Constantly “Fixing It”
There is a growing tendency to try to rescue our children from their moments of pain, frustration and anger. When hurt, we want to make it better. This we all understand.
While the intention is good, the outcome can easily become disastrous. While some ‘coaching’ is useful to give children a sense of their options, you can be sure that things are headed down the ‘negative’ path if you consistently step in to help your child through their upsets. Why? Because this approach tends to teach your children that mom or dad is responsible for getting their happiness back! This creates a progressive dependence on parents for
begins to emerge. You children expect you to help them through these moments and become quickly ready to seek parent help through every little challenge.
Optimism cannot be developed in this atmosphere. To be optimistic, children must learn that they are central to their own happiness and finding positive outcomes in difficult situations. They cannot become more dependent on others for a solution to emotional challenges, and at the same time build their own optimistic outlook. It just doesn’t work that way.
We must allow children the chance to learn (over time) to become more resourceful and confident in their abilities to get through moments of upset and frustration. When we do this, they gradually learn to believe in themselves and their own natural abilities to find a way through it. This is a powerful resource in building optimism, and a key to many aspects of confidence and self esteem.