Optimism

Posted by Sheryl Williams on 4/20/2020

We look at the world right now and we see negativity,chaos,uncertainty all around us. There is some hopefulness too. Some great stories of people helping one another, people showing kindness, helping one another, people thinking positive, looking toward the future. Lets help our children to remain hopeful, positive and optimistic.

Positive Self Talk Help children understand self-talk. Get them to listen to that little voice in their heads that says they can or can’t do things. An easy way to do this is to ask kids to stand in front of a mirror and listen to the voice in their head. Optimistic kids use different self-talk than pessimists. Confident, optimistic kids talk themselves up, and give themselves messages in line with their abilities. Pessimists use a great deal of negative self-talk and talk themselves out of doing things. Negative self-talk becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. . Kids’ self-talk will determine their attitude and also how they approach the activity. Get kids to listen to their self-talk and help them work out alternative messages that they can use if they are self-defeating. They can repeat positive or more helpful messages before they approach a situation that causes them anxiety. Encourage kids to write out positive self-talk messages that help them think more confidently about risk-taking situations.

Slow down and think through the options Many children jump to conclusions when negative situations occur, which means they think and act impulsively rather than check out possible causes of events. These automatic responses may be justified as they are in line with past events, but in reality they are the least likely explanations. 

Positively reframe Optimistic people are able to find positive aspects in negative situations, no matter how small. This encourages people to feel like they have some control over situations and is the beginning of experiencing hope. One very practical thing parents can do is to teach their kids the skill of positive reframing. That is, develop the art of finding something positive in even the most difficult situations. 

Look for the lesson Self-blame is strongly-related with pessimistic thinking. When something goes wrong or mistakes occur pessimists automatically search for someone to blame, and often they blame squarely at their own feet, whether it’s justified or not. An effective way to move thinking away from laying blame is to encourage kids to look for the lesson in a situation rather than look for blame.

Practise perspective-taking Kids often get things out of proportion when they are under stress. They jump to the worst possible conclusion when things go wrong. The propensity to catastrophise exaggerates anxiety. Be mindful of your child’s need to jump to the worst from time to time. A bit of reassurance is all that’s needed in these one-off scenarios. But if you, like your child, are a serial catastrophiser, then it will be useful to challenge your unhelpful or extreme thinking when ithappens. 

Today’s kids talk in extremes – ‘awesome’, ‘the best’ and ‘gross’ roll off their tongues easily these days. Extreme language leads to extreme thinking. So encourage kids to replace “I’m furious” with “I’m annoyed”, “It’s a disaster” with ‘It’s a pain”, “I hate it” with “I don’t like it”. Sounds minor but by changing kids’ language you change how they think about events and, more importantly, how they feel. One way of turning down internal stress as well as inflexible thinking is to tone down your language – replace ‘I can’t stand this!’ with ‘I don’t like it.’ Next time you feel annoyed about a situation and your response is out of all proportion to the event, tone down your language and you’ll instantly start to feel better and more in control. This is a great coping skill, I can assure you.

Set realistic goals Before kids figure out how to solve a problem, they need to figure out what the ultimate goal maybe. Then they should think of, or list the steps or actions they need to do to reach their goal. If they had a fight with a friend, then their goal would probably be to stay friends. To reach this goal they would probably have to apologise, do something special to make up for the dispute and change the behaviour that lead to the dispute. Once a child sets a goal they need to think of as many ways to reach the goal as possible. Many kids get locked into one path, only to get stuck when they reach a dead end. Goal-setting is a potent skill as it involves movement and invokes action rather than stagnation or inaction, which is the result of pessimistic, hopeless thinking. Goal-setting is essential if your child is to be a resilient learner. 

Be Thankful daily Many children automatically expect bad things to happen. They sabotage their efforts with their negative thinking, because their thinking defaults to pessimism. And like a self-fulfilling prophecy their efforts match their expectations and they don’t achieve, succeed, or overcome difficulties. One way to change the default mechanism from pessimistic to optimistic is to encourage kids to look for and count their blessings on a daily basis. One way of doing this is to provide an exercise book or journal where they record at least three good things or happy events that happened to them during the day. Encourage them to think hard – good things will be there – they just have to look. This activity trains their default thinking mechanism to look for positives rather than always being on the lookout for the negatives.