Optimism is one of the most valuable skills we can teach our children. Research shows that optimistic people enjoy better health, increased longevity, less stress, and greater achievement. We all know optimistic people (maybe you are one of them). Optimists see the light at the end of the tunnel. They look for the best in any situation, expect good things to happen, and never give up. Optimists are easy to be around and are the folks we turn to for support and encouragement because of their positive outlook.
Research shows that optimism is a choice and can be taught. We can equip our children with the benefits of seeing the world in a positive light. Knowing the link between optimism and happiness, it’s a valuable gift worth giving.
A great way to start is by giving children the opportunity to do things for themselves so they feel good about their efforts. Having something they can feel proud of gives children the confidence to take risks and try new things, even in difficult situations. Confidence leads to a can-do attitude and the willingness to persevere until they meet their goals.
And when children put the work and effort in, be sure to praise the effort not the outcome. The child who takes three steps up the climbing wall though scared and unsure, deserves to be praised for their efforts. Reaching the top of the wall may be the end goal, but the steps along the way are what matters. Praising children for their efforts and hard work that leads to achievement encourages them to keep pursuing their goals.
You can also lead by example. Role modeling is a very powerful tool, so be an optimist yourself. When things do not work out the way you planned, hang in there and express a positive point of view. Instead of giving up, getting discouraged, or putting yourself down, show your kids that there is always next time for the situation to improve.
Lastly, listen and problem solve. When things don’t work out, it’s fair to feel disappointed and frustrated, but encourage kids to see what they can do differently next time. Support them in tolerating negative feelings and move on to next time when things will improve. Teach them to believe they will achieve their goals. Seeing only the negative aspects of a situation can result in missed opportunities for future success and happiness.
A positive outlook is proven to improve overall health and well being, so given the choice between the glass being half full or half empty…choose optimism.
“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence”, Helen Keller