Being optimistic at any age fosters a positive mindset as well as the ability to face struggles and persevere life’s challenges. We know this is especially true for our children, who are watching us respond to our challenges, and learning from us everyday. So how do we teach the skill of optimism to our kids? Is being optimistic a teachable skill? The answer is an astounding, YES!
Scientists know that children pick up on optimistic reactions quickly, and if parents are aware and model being optimistic, that their children will be too!
Here are 5 tips to modeling optimism for your kids…
1. Model failure as proof of good effort. We fail from time to time as humans. Show your child that failure is temporary, not permanent. Praise their effort in trying something new, and explain that the failure is proof that they tried, and failing is better than not trying at all.
2. Get them to try new things. Give your child the confidence to continue trying new things, and it being okay if they didn’t like it! Ask them to try a new food, hold a worm from the dirt, play a new instrument, or hop from one rug to the other. Trying new things also helps them with boredom!
3. The power of yet. Every time your child states they can’t do something, rephrase what they say, to they can’t do it yet. For example: Your child says, “I can’t ride that bike.” You say, “No, you can’t ride it yet.” Meaning, they may not be able to do something right now, but WILL at some point conquer that skill. Make sure you use the word yet yourself when modeling! “I can’t quite play this note, yet. But I will!”
4. Opportunities to help. Look for ways to make your child feel successful and helpful to you. They love to help be kind to others! Give them opportunities to do something they can be successful at to both feel valued and capable. Can they put away the clean sippy cups for you? Roll out your elderly neighbors trash can? Pick up that penny you just dropped?
5. Model that emotional support. Our little ones don’t quite understand all their emotions right away. Don’t forget to model dealing with frustrating circumstances yourself, and to them when either of you get upset. All the modeling, hugs, kisses, and pep talks help them build the courage to handle those big feelings on their own until they make it a habit to do it on their own!
This world is tough, but we can teach our kids to be tougher. Providing them with optimistic skills will equip well them for life!
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