6 ways to teach your kids to be optimistic
January 6, 2015  |  Written by Carlota Nelson

Do your kids seem negative? The symptoms are clear for young pessimists. They give up easily, frequently use the words “always” and “never”, see the bad side of things rather the good and always blame others, especially parents and siblings. Seeing things from a positive perspective is key to being happy. Teaching our children to be optimistic should be on the same list of priorities along with teaching them to be responsible, have good manners or feel empathy for others. Being positive is a valuable tool to face the challenges that life presents. But how can we change their way of thinking? Keep reading to discover 6 ways to help your children be more optimistic.

1. Stop feeling sorry for yourself

Children who are negative usually have negative parents. If this is the case, clearly the change has to come from you first. The next time you find yourself on the pessimistic side, rather than think: “Poor me”, stop and try turning it round and see the positive side. We know it´s not easy but it´s the best way of teaching your children that there is another way of dealing with things. If they see their parents facing life´s challenges in a practical, realistic and positive way, surely they´ll do the same.

2. Changing the point of view

If your children feel sad, make them realize it´s only because they´re seeing the bad side of things. Explain to them that everything has a solution. And sometimes the solution consists in changing the point of view. Just being positive helps attract happiness.

You can explain this to them using their toys:: “Once upon a time, PinyPon Rain saw things negatively while PinyPon Sunshine saw the positive side. Both signed up for a race and both ended up second. Pinupon Rain cried because he didn´t end up first. Pinypon Sunshine got home with his big bright silver medal. Who do you think is happier?”

You could also play the unfortunately/fortunately game.  Think of a bad situation – you can say, “Unfortunately, the store has run out of ice cream.” You children have to answer with something positive like: “Fortunately, they had cookies.”

Seeing things in a different way improves our self-esteem, helps us overcome the unexpected and deal better with negative situations.

3. Value the Good

Before going to sleep, have them write at least 5 positive things that happened today, somewhere big where they can see it. That way they´ll begin to value the positive things that they´ve experienced and keep things into perspective.


4. Think before talking

Pessimistic children normally think negative thoughts about themselves. If you hear them saying things like: “I don´t like this or that about myself, I can´t do this” or “I´ll never learn how to do that…” make sure you encourage them to rethink what they´ve just said. Ask them why they´re saying that. “Does it help in any way? Is it the honest truth?

Be careful not to contradict them. Being against them will only reinforce their negative thoughts. If they aren´t able to change their “chip” you can help them by using sentences such as: “You might not be able to today but the other day you did great”! Or “why do you say such things about yourself? I don´t understand. You seem good natured and bright to me. “

5. Don´t get mad, just listen

If your children have negative attitudes, don´t get angry or try explaining why they should be optimistic. All they need is for you to listen and empathize.

Try reaching out to them explaining you know or understand how they feel. You can say things like: “you look sad, it must have been difficult for you when James ignored you during recess…”

6. Help them Problem Solve

Write the problem on the top part of a piece of paper. Then, ask your children to write the solutions that come to mind. If you feel it´s necessary, add a few more yourself. Then, motivate them to choose a solution they´d like to put into practice. Once they do, have them think of the pros and cons and possible consequences of each.

Do this activity whenever a new problem occurs. This way your children can learn to find solutions and face them instead of being overwhelmed by having too many things to deal with.

Remember, we can guide them but never offer them the solution. Our children must learn to face the challenges and problems they have on their own.

Last but not least keep in mind that changes are made over time. They won´t change overnight. So remember to be patient in the process.

Photo Credits: All The Color

Photo Credits: Famosa

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