As a parent, you want your kids to have happiness, health, and success. Even if you don’t have a magic wand you can wave, you have the power to bring these things about by influencing the way your children think. One good place to start is by encouraging optimism.
A positive outlook boosts your immune system and helps you to live longer. When you look on the bright side, you build up your resilience and achieve more.
If that’s the kind of legacy you want to pass on to your children, consider these strategies. They’ll help you to raise optimistic sons and daughters.
Steps for You to Take Yourself:
1. Be a role model. Your children will follow your example. The more you demonstrate the power of optimism, the more likely they are to pick up on your sunny outlook.
2. Accentuate the positive. Make it a habit to focus on the upside of any situation. Transform disappointments and irritations by turning them into lessons. If a camping trip gets rained out, show your children how to be flexible. Pitch your tent in your living room.
3. Show gratitude. Counting your blessings helps you to see the world as a friendly place. List the things you have to be thankful for.
4. Choose empowering words. How often do you catch yourself complaining? Replace defeatist statements with positive affirmations.
5. Be realistic. Optimism needs to be grounded in facts. Acknowledge challenges while you focus on solutions.
6. Take action. Optimism also needs to be backed up by action in order to succeed. Seize control of your life and remember that you can handle anything that comes your way.
Steps to Take with Your Children:
1. Set high expectations. Children build confidence by living up to the responsibilities you give them. Teach them to believe in their abilities to excel at school, play sports, and make friends.
2. Encourage independence. It’s natural to want to intervene when your child is hurting. On the other hand, they grow more when you step back and let them fix their own challenges.
3. Take risks. Reward your child for taking sensible risks. Give them credit for speaking up in class or trying to ski for the first time.
4. Leverage strengths. Notice what your child likes to do and what they’re good at. When they succeed at a task, help them to analyze what they did well, and how they can build on their achievements.
5. Learn from experience. When your child has a setback, talk about what they can do differently next time. Help them see that their sadness or frustration is temporary.
6. Engage in creative play. Feed your child’s imagination with activities that help them to express themselves and develop their skills. Build a theatre out of a cardboard box so you can put on puppet shows. Paint pictures and do crafts. Creative thinking stirs up hopes and dreams.
7. Share affection. Studies show that children who receive plenty of love and affection feel more secure about their future. Listen closely to what your child has to say so they’ll know that they’re important to you. Hug them when they leave for school in the morning and come home in the afternoon.
8. Give praise. Positive reinforcement will help your children to value themselves and develop constructive habits. Tell them that you’re proud of them for studying hard and being kind to their neighbors.
Optimists are made, not born, so you can teach your children to see the glass as half full. Positive thinking will help them to make sound decisions and deal effectively with life’s challenges.