5 Ways to teach your kids the power of optimism


The most amazing gift in life that I can give my kids – besides my unconditional love, of course – is the power of optimism. When a kid has the super hero-like power of optimism he can handle any of the tussles that life will surely throw his way. Optimism is that fundamental belief that there is a possibility for a solution to any bad situation. Here are 5 ways to teach your kids how to develop the marvelous power of optimism.

Always Look On The Bright Side of Life

Create a practice of talking about the good qualities and aspects of situations that can otherwise feel bad. You can do this by highlighting the ways in which a situation is advantageous instead of problematic. For example, if your child is upset because he left his favorite toy at Grandma’s house then point out how this is a great opportunity to rediscover and play with toys that often get neglected or make up new games together that can help your child feel that fun can still be had despite not having that one comforting toy.

If You Want To Be Optimistic Then You Have To Speak The Language

By taking every opportunity in daily life to point out the positive such as good effort, mindful thinking, achievements, or even playing up defeat by spinning a loss into a gain you are teaching your child to use optimistic self-talk. According to parenting expert Meri Wallace LCSW, author of How to Raise a Happy, Cooperative Child: Parenting Strategies for All Ages, “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.” Start by using simple phrases such as “you can do it” and “that was a great try”.

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If You Can’t Find The Solution To A Problem Then Improvise

The ability to improvise, or to think quickly on your feet, goes hand-in-hand with optimism. By pointing out moments when your child can use improvisation to solve a problem you are helping your child to become independent and resourceful, which are two highly useful life skills. Kids improvise all the time when they play by bending rules in order to promote more play. The next time you see your kids arguing over a game try pointing out the fun ways that they can improvise by changing the game rules to accommodate new players or to solve grievances with how the game is being played.

Optimism Sometimes Looks Like Courage

When kids fail at anything from a math test to learning how to shoot a hoop it can feel to them that all is lost. Teaching your child to use courage to continue beyond a defeat is a form of optimism that will serve him well. According to Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW, a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, “courage is not something we have or don’t have, it’s something we practice. And, thankfully, something we can teach and model for our children.”

Instead of focusing on how a child has failed try shifting the perspective to one of optimism by teaching courage. It takes courage to keep trying something until there is success and by inspiring the willingness to practice then your child will learn how to succeed.

Setting Attainable Goals Can Lead To A Sense of Optimism

There is no question that failure – at anything – feels crumby, even for parents. Sometimes the optimistic looks like setting attainable goals that your child already possesses skills sets for. By breaking up a daunting task into much smaller tasks, like say cleaning a bedroom, your child can feel more control over his ability to meet a challenge. For example, instead of telling your child to go clean his room try being specific by giving him jobs such as putting the toys in the toy box, tossing the dirty laundry into the hamper, and making his bed.

It is never too late to begin teaching your children the power of optimism. They will surprise you in the numerous ways that they can flourish with the skills of courage, tenacity, adaptability, and the refreshing and wonderful positive outlook on life that they can craft on their own.

Sarah Cottrell

About Sarah Cottrell

Maine-based writer Sarah Cottrell is the voice behind Housewife Plus at the Bangor Daily News and is a regular contributor to Disney’s Babble and Momtastic. She is a co-author in six books including I Still Just Want To Pee Alone from the New York Times Bestselling series. Sarah’s work has also been highlighted and featured by SELF Magazine, National Public Radio, Washington Post, and VICE Tonic.