How to Raise a Happy, Cooperative Child

Parenting Strategies for All Ages

6 Steps for Teaching Your Child Optimism

One of the greatest gifts you can give your child is hope in life.

One of the greatest gifts you can give your child is a sense of hope about life. If your child is not doing well at school, he needs to know that he can succeed if he tries. When he has a fight with his best friend, he benefits from the assurance that he has not lost his friend forever. Parents need to teach their children that life is fluid and that often over time things change for the better. As you help your child to work through problems step by step, you can communicate through your words and actions, that he has the power to change situations. Here are six steps for helping your child to build an optimistic approach to life.

Try to handle situations calmly. If your child comes home with a low grade on a math test, rather than getting angry and communicating that all is lost, take a more positive approach. You are your child's model for how to face challenges. If you think optimistically so will she.

Talk about the details of the situation. You need to ascertain exactly what went wrong and avoid jumping to conclusions. In this way, you will help your child most effectively. You might ask for instance, "What do you think happened that caused you to fail the exam?" There could be many possible explanations. He may have gone to bed too late and was tired, or the exam was very hard and only a few kids passed. Once you pinpoint the source of the problem, you will be better equipped to help him find solutions.

Talk about her emotions. Expressing feelings of shame or sadness, and receiving your support,will give her the strength to take action. For example, you can ask, “How did you feel about losing your cell phone?”

Use phrases that will calm him down. When you counter his fears with statements such as, “You can do it” or “Things will work out” you instill hope and empower him. Your child will internalize your phrases and use them to calm himself down at challenging moments. The ability to be his own cheering squad will serve him well in life.

Engage your child in solving problems. If your child is having trouble with a friend, rather than jumping in and telling her what to do, ask your child if she has any ideas.Your child is closer to the situation and may come up with solutions that you never could have imagined. Her active involvement in problem solving, will sharpen her coping skills.

Communicate trust in your child. If you stay calm and search for solutions with your child, while conveying that your child is valuable and capable, you empower your child. Your trust in him enhances his self-esteem, the key to optimism.

Meri Wallace, LCSW, is a parenting expert and child and family therapist.

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