If we want our child to truly blossom, find himself and be happy, parental love and authority are no longer enough. The child still needs to be taught optimism. Here are five lessons to help strengthen their desire to grow up and their faith in life.
Many children are frightened by the adult world. Talking to psychologists on a variety of occasions, they speak of feelings of powerlessness and insecurity. And their parents are gripped by anxiety about the future of their children in our society, which is experiencing fear because of pandemics and crisis because of uncertainty. Nevertheless, most experts believe that today it is precisely optimism that can be the foundation of parenting.
What is optimism? It is faith in oneself, hope for the best, it is the ability of a person, despite difficulties and uncertainty, to understand the value of life itself and to enjoy every moment. And this is the coolest motivator for moving forward. But our children are too young to realize all this. So if you want your child to look at the world with optimism, it is your task as a parent.
Only a loved one can pass on to a child an optimistic perception of life.
And it is not only parents and grandparents who can charge a child with optimism. It can be anyone who cares, who is close to them. Anyone who is ready to accept a child without any schemes or templates, who is able to look at him or her and be genuinely surprised: “That’s what you are like!”. This is the kind of person who appreciates life himself and therefore can convey this feeling to the child.
Moreover, such people do not necessarily have to be optimists themselves. Drawing on the data of positive psychology, psychologists argue that pessimistic parents may well raise an optimistic child (provided that they understand how much their pessimism hinders them and want to protect the child from their own limitations).
Optimism will be good for any child, of any age or temperament. But it is especially helpful for anxious and vulnerable children, who need to regain a taste for life and hope.
So, that concludes the introductory part, and we move on to five ideas and principles for raising children as optimists.
1. Encourage your child’s curiosity
A small child is hungry for discovery. Everything he touches, tastes, and smells makes him want to venture out of his familiar environment. And our job is to give him the freedom to experiment.
Take advantage of this! Support his curiosity and inquisitiveness in every way possible. Look closely at what your child is doing and why, try to understand what drives him, and join him in his activities.
Share exciting discoveries with your child, explain them, answer their questions, introduce them to new books, exhibitions, travel – all this can make a child feel that life has a lot of fun ahead of them. This is enough to make a child excited about the future.
2. Don’t dramatize your child’s mistakes
In discovering the world, the child also explores his own boundaries. When there are too many failures, he feels worthless and gives up at the slightest difficulty.
That is why it is important for adults to recognize the fears (often unfounded) that we pass on to children without wanting to. It is worth thinking: “How do I deal with my own mistakes? Do I help my son or daughter understand that a mistake is an opportunity to learn something?”.
Another rule: evaluate not the child, but what he has done. Separate his efforts (don’t forget to support them) and the unsuccessful result. If we trust the child, know how to be with him/her, however, not performing tasks instead of him/her, allow child to look for a solution by himself/herself, appreciate own successes, we thereby increase self-resilience and hope to succeed in different endeavors.
3. Help your child think more precisely and concretely
One of the pillars of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, did extensive research on what can help a child actively own a situation rather than passively tolerate it. He found that pessimistic attitudes are characterized by two characteristics:
- Taking failure personally (“Something bad happened to me because I’m bad”);
- And generalizing (“That’s the way it always is”).
Both attitudes lead to a feeling of helplessness. And it is a dangerous feeling. If a child thinks that something is beyond his ability to resolve, he will begin to doubt himself and may become withdrawn.
Remember: Every child has their own unique abilities, their own hidden talent. It doesn’t happen that abilities and talents absent at all.
So when a child fails, it is better to explain to him or her, as precisely as possible, what happened and what exactly he or she lacked. Then solutions will be clearer and more obvious to him (and those that are available to him and do not depend on the whims of fate).
4. To instill in your child a taste for exploration and a craving for effort
It will take a lot of energy for a child to win his place in life, to accomplish what will make him happy. To do this, he needs to feel as early as possible that the effort is paying off: giving him new skills or improving his life.
Unfortunately, many parents make a very serious mistake here: they criticize a child if he is not doing well, when in fact the child should be praised.
If you want your child to grow up successful and optimistic, don’t criticize him for what he can’t do and compare him to those who can.
Do the opposite: praise your child for small victories and tell him more often that he will succeed! When your child is faced with a task that seems impossible, remind him of the successes he has achieved through his efforts (learning to walk, read, swim, learn new subjects at school etc).
Help your child notice and appreciate the good moments because they will be his defense in times of difficulty, which will inevitably come. For example, before going to sleep, you can make such a ritual: remember together the moments when your daughter or son were able to surpass oneself, where his / her efforts were rewarded. This is an effective strategy for focusing attention on all the good things, and it is good for recharging for new achievements.
5. Develop your child’s sense of trust in the world
Researchers have concluded that how a child views himself and the world depends very much on the other people who surround him every day. Some children avoid communication with their peers, others choose to be friends with those who feel even more insecure.
Your job as a parent is to get your child interested in the world around them. Read him more books, show him more pictures and videos of beautiful places outside your city, tell him where you have been and what you have learned. We can also help your child learn about the world by taking an interest in his friends, developing his empathy, and showing him how great friendship is.
Optimism and openness to the world are related. And when a child is in this frame of mind, when he enters into relationships with different people he will already know what to expect, he will be ready not to be afraid and ask for help and support, he will feel the world around him as a safe place, where many interesting opportunities are prepared for him.