5 Ways to Teach Your Child to Be Optimistic

By Sensei Serge Sognonvi and Carmen Sognonvi
Originally published at http://www.urbandojo.com/blog

Throughout May 2011, we’ll be working on the concept of “optimism” as part of our Powerful Words character development curriculum.

All our discussions and activities will aim to help our students understand how to look at the bright side — how to see a challenge and know everything is going to turn out exactly as it should.

This month’s “Dear Dr. Robyn” column is all about teaching our children how to be optimismic.

Dr. Robyn Silverman is the child development expert who created Powerful Words, our character development curriculum here at Urban Martial Arts.

Dear Dr. Robyn,

One of our children is a “glass half full” kind of a person– always looking on the sunny side of every situation. But our other child, unfortunately, always seems to have a rain cloud over his head– he’s just so negative! How can I help him to see things more positively?
—Gideon & Ruth G, London UK

Dear Gideon & Ruth,

As we know from years of research, optimism has enormous benefits for attitude and health. Fortunately, optimism can be taught and instilled in children.

Here are some tips you can start using right away:

1. Help them remember that failure is temporary:
When a project or activity goes wrong, help your children stay clear of absolutes like “I never get things right” or “This always happens.” Validate their feelings and help them to decipher what went wrong but also remind them that they’ve had many successes in their lives and they will have many more.

2. Nix the labels
Stay clear of labeling your children “our negative child” or things of that nature. Labels can leave a child boxed in and can interfere with their self concept. Especially when labels carry a negative
connotation, they can inadvertently encourage the behavior you are trying to extinguish. Children tend to live up to the expectations we set- so be careful not to create a self-fulfilling prophesy!

3. Highlight the “silver lining”
Many frustrating situations can be seen in a positive light if you look for it. For example, when a child is upset that he won’t know anyone at a new school, this could be an opportunity to make new friends. A rainy day may mean that your children can’t go outside to play but it can be a chance to bake with Dad or watch a movie that everybody has been waiting to see. Train your child to try and find the sunny side of a problem.

4. Refrain from over-praising
Everything our children do is not “fantastic!” When we over-praise, we rob our children of genuine, welldeserved praise that comes when effort and results align. Real praise has real meaning. Undeserved praise feels empty– and can make children untrusting of all praise, when given.

5. Give credit when credit is due
When your child has done something well, sincerely recognize and praise what helped them to get there. Was it their commitment? Character? Persistence? Let them know you noticed and are impressed!

Keep using these tips– it takes time to create a habit of optimism!

Here’s to your success!

~by Dr. Robyn Silverman

Hope you enjoyed Dr. Robyn’s advice on raising an optimistic child! To give you more ideas for conversation topics, here’s a run-down of what we’ll be discussing this month in class:

Week 1: Optimism defined: What is Optimism vs Pessimism?
Week 2: Dealing with challenges: How do we change how we think?
Week 3: Blame and Accountability: How do optimists vs pessimists cope?
Week 4: Inner talk and believing in oneself: How can we be more optimistic?

There’s no better way to drive home the lessons we teach at Urban Martial Arts than by reinforcing them… well, at home!

We’d love to hear how your conversations go with your child so do share with us!

Free Download: Special Report on Optimism

Fill out the form below to request a free PDF download of our special report:
“Why Optimism Matters: A Guide for Parents and Educators”

This special report is an excellent resource, whether you’re a parent who wants to instill greater optimism in your children, or you’re a teacher looking for character development lesson ideas in the classroom.

By filling out the form above, you’ll also receive a complimentary subscription to Black Belt Success, the email newsletter from Urban Martial Arts.