Raising An Optimistic Child
As a parent, you want to try to raise your child so that they have the best chance to live a purposeful life full of happiness.
However, since life has its ups and downs, how do you do that – especially if your child happens to have the “pessimistic gene”?
What it is to be an optimistic child
Is optimism genetic or not,
and how the world looks through the eyes of optimism versus pessimism for a child.
Then we’ll look at how you can teach optimism even if the genetics aren’t on the side of optimism, using your examples and love.
The Definition of an Optimistic Child
Optimism is basically “the feeling or belief that good things will happen even if it’s not likely. (Dictonary.com)
So, in some ways, the ability to be optimistic seems almost unrealistic.
However, studies show that the ability to look on the bright side serves people well because they tend to be happier even when things don’t go the way they had hoped.
Because of this, there is a lot of value in intentionally raising optimistic children.
Is Optimism Genetic?
One of the biggest questions that scientists and parents are asking is whether optimism (and pessimism) is genetic or not.
When it comes to childrearing, the age-old question of nature versus nurture often comes up –
not in order to dissuade parents from trying to change a negative trait in their child,
but more to help with an understanding of how to best teach and guide a child.
Living one’s best life is the goal.
We are discovering that happiness is tied to the ability of the child to be optimistic and thus happy,
more so than what is going on in a child’s life.
This is not to say that a child can’t become pessimistic when they were not previously, due to what is going on in their life.
That’s where the age-old argument of nature versus nurture comes in.
Yes, optimism is partially genetic, but it’s also partly nurtured.
It’s a combination of both.
There is a genetic component that has been discovered, and this can affect some people more than others.
However, through your example and hard work, you can guide your pessimistic child toward more positive thoughts and actions.
Plus, unless you’re going to do genetic testing, you really won’t know if it’s something they have been born with or something they’ve learned.
This is especially true if you (or someone the child is around a lot of the time) lean toward a more pessimistic personality.
The best way to approach this as a parent is to understand that if your child is currently behaving in a pessimistic way, it could be genetic.
It’s not that they’re trying to be negative or misbehave.
They can’t help it until they learn ways to turn their thoughts around and see things in a new way.
Pessimism does not have to be a permanent feature of a child’s personality, whether they have the gene or not.
However, if it is genetic, it might be the chief characteristic of their personality until they learn how to be more optimistic.
Even then, it might be something they struggle with, but having the tools will make a big difference in their life.
Children can learn to be more positive, and you can lead the way.
It’ll be a good lesson for them and will help them throughout their life, allowing them to live a happier life overall.
The Future for an Optimistic Versus a Pessimistic Child
Even though some measure of pessimistic behavior is genetic,
it’s essential to understand that as a parent,
you have a lot more power over how their pessimism plays out than you may think.
You can demonstrate and model the right way to deal with negative thoughts and situations to make them more positive.
For example, if your child often has the reaction of, “I can’t do this, so why bother trying”
when it comes to specific topics like math, sports, their social life, or something else,
it’s up to you to try to help them turn those negative thoughts and actions around so that they can experience success.
It’s in experiencing success and learning to interpret what success is and feels like,
that they get the feeling that they can do “it” – whatever “it” is –
and it encourages them to try even if they might not succeed.
The way to help them is to demonstrate and show them how to turn negative thoughts and actions around
Make them more positive and assertive.
For example, if your child doesn’t study maths because they think it’s too hard and they’re going to fail anyway,
Getting them a math tutor, setting aside specific times to study math, and showing them how to really buckle down and study
will go far in showing them that they can indeed learn the things they are interested in learning given time and expert help.
Pessimism not only affects them today either.
When they become adults, it will affect them worse in terms of being able to create and manage a budget,
to a marriage, raise their kids with purpose, and just living a happy, healthy life.
In fact, even if they experience success in life, that pessimistic behavior and attitude can rip the joy away too.
It’s hard to see what is good in life when you can only point out the bad.
Pessimistic attitudes and actions lead to less success due to keeping people from even trying,
while moving forward in optimism with a plan leads to more success just due to the act of trying.
Whether it’s academics, sports, or social situations,
the more your child tries and participates in their life in all areas, the more often they’ll feel successful –
even if sometimes it doesn’t work out the way they hoped.
This is not about trying and always getting exactly what you want;
it’s about trying and getting some of what you want and learning to be grateful for that fact.
After all, doing nothing due to fear of failure isn’t a better result than trying and failing.
Because even in defeat, you always learn something that makes next time better.
In the next post, we will discuss The Importance of Being a Role Model