It feels extra challenging to be optimistic these days, or maybe it’s always been this way, but everywhere we turn someone is suffering, fighting or hurting someone else. Even if it’s something as simple as a hurtful comment on social media, a case of road rage on your morning commute, or fear-mongering by a local news outlet, your children are often witnessing these moments in time and observing the reaction of their parents. It’s easy to get sucked into the negativity, but you don’t have to. Raise your children to be optimistic by teaching them how to look on the bright side of things, because positive children are happier in life and more well-adjusted.
1. Think before you speak. Have you ever noticed how your children mimic the odd negative comments you make? It’s quite common for kids to repeat adult talk and day-to-day grumblings. They don’t need to hear a running commentary of negative thoughts about the driver in front of you or the colleague at work who wronged you. Vent those stories to your spouse and instead look for positive anecdotes from your day to share with your children. Tell them about something nice you did for a friend or a success story from work and if you catch yourself blurting out something negative, turn it around by putting a more positive twist on it. “I can’t believe that person just cut me off… hmm, maybe they have a family emergency to get to.”
2. Focus on gratitude and kindness. Encouraging children to volunteer to help those less fortunate, to appreciate what they have, and to be giving and thoughtful to their friends and family will give them a more positive outlook on life. Grateful families talk about what they are thankful for and lead by example.
3. Pause before you react. It can be hard to not swoop in and help your kids when things go sideways for them. Wait to see how they will handle a challenging situation that comes up and instead of providing them with solutions, let children try to solve the issue themselves. It will empower them and give them a sense of optimism if they can sort things out on their own. And when they inevitably do, they will be more optimistic about handling the next challenge that comes their way.
4. Have fun together. Take breaks from everyday stresses and busyness by spending time relaxing with your kids whenever you can fit it in; cuddle on the couch, read a book at the park, cook together, go for a walk in the woods, or try anything else that lets you spend precious moments with them. And most importantly, laugh, be silly and keep things lighthearted. This teaches kids that even on the darkest of days, there’s always a blue-sky day on the horizon.