Optimistic or Pessimistic? It’s Your Choice

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.

In this video, Dr. Robyn gives advice to parent who would like to help her child be more optimistic:

Dr. Robyn believes that there’s such a thing as learned optimism. In other words, it’s your choice whether to be optimistic or pessimistic.

Here are 5 tips from Dr. Robyn if you’d like your child to become more optimistic:

1. Reword negative statements

The next time your child says something like “I can’t…” or “I stink at…”, ask them to pause and think about what they’re really feeling in the moment. Then ask them to reword the statement to reflect that. For example, “Right now I’m embarrassed that I’m failing” or “Right now I feel afraid that people will laugh at me.” Once you zero in on what they’re actually feeling, you can address it with a solution.

2. Help them understand the power of thoughts

Teach your child that thoughts have the power to influence our mindset, and through that, our actions. Help them recognize what thoughts they’re saying to themselves in their head. Are they positive thoughts or negative thoughts? And why?

3. Teach them that optimism is a choice

Explain to your child that when we dwell on something negative, we make the choice to do so. Instead of choosing to be negative, why not choose to be positive? Ask your child to say 3 things each day that they’re grateful for. This will help them make it a habit to be optimistic.

4. Talk about overcoming challenges and adversity

When you or others in your family talk about experiences you’ve had in overcoming hardships, it helps your child see that success doesn’t always come easy. So think about experiences you’ve had where you were faced with a challenge and overcame it, and share them with your child.

5. Help your child to set and reset goals

Optimistic people always look forward and stay positive about future accomplishments. Help your child develop the habit of setting goals. Short-term goals help kids feel successful, but long-term goals are important too. If you include short-term benchmarks within those long-term goals, your child will learn that an optimistic attitude, coupled with effort, will get you places.

Hope you enjoyed Dr. Robyn’s advice on learned optimism! 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.

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