Don’t Overprotect Your Child
Allow Your Child to Express Emotions
Every child needs to experience overcoming obstacles in order to become more positive about their ability.
Even if your child currently has a hard time with their emotions over these issues,
you can’t prevent them from having roadblocks to overcome.
Being optimistic does not mean that normal emotions cannot be expressed.
Everyone feels anger, sadness, and less than fun and happy emotions due to things that happen to them, and that’s fine.
That’s normal and it’s okay.
Don’t try to change how your child feels, because you can’t.
Be Aware of Your Own Explanatory Style
As your child’s primary role model, typically children learn a lot from you –
including how they see the world and the events that happen to you.
How you explain things to your family at the dinner table in conversation
is just as important as anything that happens to your child,
because it informs the child on what is acceptable in terms of talking about life.
Ask Leading Questions
When your child is telling you a story about their day and it sounds overly negative,
help them change the words and thoughts.
For example, ask them to tell you what was good about their day instead of, “What happened today?”
That sets them up to think more about the positive aspects of their day than the negative.
Teach Positive Affirmations
One of the best tools for anyone with a tendency toward negativity is to use positive affirmations. You can find a list of affirmations for kids online, but you can also help your child create their own affirmations that are specific to their needs. For example, if your child is negative every day before school about something, make a positive affirmation for that. “I am well-dressed, clean, fed, and ready to learn.”
Show Your Child That There Are Always Multiple Solutions
One reason some children are pessimistic in the way they see their life has to do with believing there is only one way to do something. Sometimes being optimistic has nothing to do with “positivity” but with the truth. So, don’t teach your child to be unrealistic in their optimism; instead, teach them that there are many ways to approach a problem and many solutions to anyone’s problem.
Teach Them That They Control Their Reaction
Ask them what they can change about anything that happened, or if it happened again what could they do differently. Analyzing their statements such as, “it’s my fault” with reality might show them how it’s not their fault. And if it is their fault, you can show them how that’s okay too.
Neutral Can Be Better Than Overly Positive Sometimes
When you are teaching your child to use different words to describe their experiences, they don’t always have to be framed in a strictly “positive” way. Sometimes being overly positive can just seem creepy and unrealistic. Instead, simply making a statement of fact that is neither positive nor negative can help make a child feel more optimistic.
Teach Your Child Gratitude
People who are grateful for their life and what they have also tend to be more optimistic. You can teach this by daily prayer, keeping a gratitude journal, or having each person say what they’re grateful for today during a specific time during the day. All those things you do for yourself work for your kids too.
Practice with your child by turning descriptions of what happened, what is happening, and what may happen into neutral and then to positive. Ask leading questions focused on the positive to help frame the discussion. Physically help your child start and keep a gratitude journal, and make it a point to express things in a neutral or positive tone in front of your kids.
Mistakes Parents Make When Raising Pessimistic Children
If you know that you have a child who is more pessimistic than most, it can be a little frustrating – especially if you are an optimistic person yourself. You may feel lost knowing how to handle your child’s thoughts and feelings. Avoiding these mistakes when raising a pessimistic child will help.
Overprotecting Your Child
This is worth mentioning again. Overprotecting is something that often starts when children are babies. It usually manifests as micromanaging every single moment of your child’s time. Even a toddler should have time to play without direction. Older children should be responsible for managing their own friendships, and parents should back off as their children grow.
Not Teaching Children Responsibility
This is another aspect of overprotection in some ways. One thing that every single person needs to learn in life is responsibility. Everyone is eventually responsible for their own laundry, chores, homework, and job. If you don’t start teaching them now how these things are their personal responsibility and how to do them, it’ll be hard for them to cope when they are adults.
Being a Helicopter Parent
As your child grows, let them take over more of their own lives. You don’t need to ask them in the 11th grade about their English paper, because it’s their responsibility. They cannot ever learn to do things on their own if you micromanage all their time. Let them learn – and yes, let them fail sometimes too (as is age-appropriate).
Saying Yes Too Much
Another thing that isn’t really that great for kids, even though it seems optimistic at the start, is always saying yes to them about everything. You don’t need to say no without a good reason, but you shouldn’t say yes to everything just to avoid conflict. Being optimistic is about dealing with conflict in a positive way, not living without conflict at all.
Not Helping Your Child Take Smart Risks
A lot of pessimistic people are very risk-averse. That’s one reason they don’t want to try; they see it as pointless. However, if you can show your child a method to evaluate the risk they want to take realistically, then you can show them how to take smart risks in life. For example, while it’s a risk to try out for cheerleading, put it in perspective. The result of failure for that is not being a cheerleader. That’s it.
Treating Smarts as Maturity
Many young children often seem so smart and mature. However, being smart, especially book smart, has absolutely nothing to do with being mature. Maturity only comes with experience, which is why you can guide maturity with an open dialogue about the issues of the day.
Lying about Who We Are as Humans
This might be a hard one for some parents, but it’s important in terms of your child not only accepting other people’s humanity but also their own. You have to decide what is appropriate and what is not for your own child based on their age and your current situation, but sharing that you failed or made a mistake as a child can actually help the child learn from you better.
Not Realizing You’re Your Child’s Main Role Model
You may think of a coach, a teacher, a minister or someone else as a role model for your child but the fact is, the parent who is the same sex as the child is the most significant role model for that child. That can be hard to take sometimes, but it’s the truth. And if you want your child to behave a certain way, you must demonstrate that by your example.
Avoiding Teaching Values and Morals
One way a child can learn to make good decisions is by having something to look to as a guide. Creating a family mission statement about values and morals can go far in helping a child learn to make good decisions.
Fixing Everything for Them
If your child makes a mistake, don’t try to save them from suffering consequences. It can be very tempting, but it won’t teach them how to either be optimistic or to be an upstanding citizen. A good example is that you don’t always need to take books and work to your middle school children if they forgot. And of course, you should never, ever get involved in your child’s friendship fights.
It’s a balance that parents find for their own child, leading them toward more optimistic behavior while also allowing them to be who they are without judgment. Your home should be a safe place for your child to be who they are, but at the same time, it’s okay to guide them toward more positive thoughts and behaviors.
Things You Can Do to Raise an Optimistic Child
While nature sometimes wins out, when it comes to nature versus nurture for raising an optimistic child, you still have some power over the situation due to the fact that children respond so well to parent-modeled behavior and input from their parents and other adults in their lives. There are many ways to raise an optimistic child, and if not outright optimistic, at least able to see the good and enjoy the good in life.
Listen More without Judgement
When your child talks to you about their problems, always take the things that they say seriously. Don’t downgrade your child’s emotions in order to teach them optimism. Children have disappointments in life too just as you do. The feelings they feel are just as powerful as yours.
Show Your Feelings
Being optimistic is not about having no feelings that are viewed by others as unfavorable. It’s about having those feelings but being able to see the bright side anyway. For example, if you’re on vacation at the beach but every single day you wake up it’s raining, all day, every day, it’s okay to be upset that this is happening.
But you don’t want to stay there in that negativity. It’s raining, and that is disappointing, but it’s not the end of the world. An optimistic person will find something else to do than what they planned and be happy about that, even while expressing some disappointment about the rain.
Children who receive more affection – including pats on the head, hugs, back rubs, genuine smiles and so forth, tend to be happier and more optimistic. Being ready always with open arms, a smile, a kiss, and a hug goes a long way to help alleviate negative feelings from the outside world.
Role Model Positivity
When you are living your life, both bad things and good things will happen to you. Show your child how to react positively by your behavior when things happen. This isn’t to say that if something bad happens, you should always act positively. It’s okay to have feelings. But if it’s raining and you wanted to go outside and play frisbee, that’s not really a good reason to have a meltdown. Instead, you can be thankful for the rain and find something else better to do today.
Praise Your Child for Success
When your child experiences even small successes, find ways to praise them. For example, if they try out for track team but don’t make it, it’s still worth it to celebrate trying.
Do Not Punish Failure
A hard-won D on a test is still better than getting a D or F when you did not even try. Not trying is not a good thing at all, but trying and failing is not hopeless. If you studied hard but you still didn’t do as well as you wanted to, it’s not the end of the world. You can pass this type of attitude on to your children through your own example of trying and failing.
Be Patient When Teaching Life Skills
Another way you can be an excellent demonstration of optimism to your child is to be very patient when you are teaching them ordinary everyday life skills like potty training, tying their shoes, keeping their area clean, organizing and studying and so forth. No one knows how to do anything until their mom or dad or someone teaches them, and it’s okay not to get it right away.
Give Your Child the Freedom to Play
Don’t schedule every single moment of your child’s life. It’s actually crucial for brain development for your child to get bored. Boredom can lead to creativity. Plus, playing is fun, boosts the immune system, helps release feel-good hormones, and leads to more positivity about life.
Keep Reality Age-Appropriate
While you don’t want to hide everything from your child, you do want them to learn about most of life before they go out on their own. However, you want to try to keep reality age-appropriate. Your four-year-old doesn’t really need to know about bombs in other countries, children starving, or that classrooms get shot up sometimes. While these things are facts of life, let your child lead the discussions and ask questions so that you don’t put more on them than they can handle.
Avoid Using Food as Comfort
It’s very tempting to bribe kids with food for things like potty training and so forth, but it leads to a very unhealthy relationship with food. Instead of teaching them to comfort themselves with food, teach them other methods such as meditation, yoga, and positive affirmations.
Accept That Children Have Problems Too
Just because your child is a child doesn’t mean they have it easy and have no problems. It’s tough being a child sometimes. You’re not used to feeling strong emotions, and life can be confusing. When your child expresses feelings, don’t cut them down and act like kids don’t have problems and real feelings. They do. Show them that it’s normal.
Point Out the Good in Every Situation
When something is not going well, take the time to start pointing out the good things. To use the earlier example, if you are at the beach and it’s raining every day of your vacation, point out the awesome movies you’re getting to see, or the indoor games you’re playing that you don’t normally do, and other aspects of the trip that are still awesome.
Provide Many Happy Events and Occasions for Your Child
Finally, ensure that you provide many happy experiences for your child as part of your family life. Be happy at dinner, in the morning, and during events, and laugh about things when they don’t go exactly as planned. Because remember, it’s not really about everything being perfect. It’s about being optimistic despite things not being perfect. That ability ensures that your child will live a much happier life than someone who cannot do that.
The main point is that every part of your day is a chance to demonstrate positive and optimistic behavior and thoughts to your child. That’s how you teach them. You show them the example, and they will soak it up like a sponge and repeat it.