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Some children just always seem to see the clouds instead of the sun. While being negative happens to all of us at one time or another, feeling gloomy all of the time is unhealthy.
Raising Children to Have a Positive Attitude
As parents, we want to help our children to learn to have a more realistic and balanced point of view about the positive and negative aspects of life. To do this, however, we need to look at our own attitudes and help our children build positive attitudes about their place in the world.
Evaluate Your Own Attitude
Experts agree that many of our personality traits are inborn, but some are also the result of environment. If you have a child who is leaning toward being pessimistic instead of optimistic, you should first examine your own attitude. Parents and caregivers have the biggest influence on how children perceive the world. Do you dwell on the negative instead of the positive? Are you constantly bringing up all the bad things that happen to you at work instead of the good parts of your day? You may not even know you are doing it, so pay attention to your own attitude to see if that is where your child is learning it.
Look at Your Child’s Experiences
Your child’s experiences may also be a factor in turning him into a negative thinker. Life experiences such as a death in the family, divorce, poverty, or loss of a good friend can contribute to your child’s pessimistic approach to life. While you cannot control certain aspects of your child’s life, you can give your child the support and attention he needs to get through the experiences without giving up his positive thinking.
Refrain from Using Negative Labels
If one child has a sunny disposition while the other is gloomy don’t point this out to your child. Children tend to become the very person you tell them they are. If you say “You are the gloomy one in our family,” your child will eventually take on that role permanently.
Be an Example of Optimism
Children learn what they see, so if they see you act positively after a disheartening situation, they learn to do the same. How you behave really does affect how your child perceives the world around him.
Teach Your Child to be Optimistic, yet Realistic at the Same Time
We all experience disappointments in our lives and we aren’t always going to achieve the goals we set for ourselves. When your child experiences a setback, like not making the team or failing a test he studied for, tell him that setbacks can be learning experiences too. Working a little harder to make the team next time or getting help with the subject he is having trouble with can be the way to succeed next time. Having the attitude that you can always try again or work a little harder to achieve a goal will give your child a positive take on a setback.
Help Boost your Child’s Self-Esteem
Self-esteem and a positive attitude go hand-in-hand. Give your child opportunities to try new activities and praise him for his successes. Start with little things when he is young, like having him help fold towels or do dishes and give positive responses to his good work. As children grow older notice when they do a job right or get a good grade on a paper in school and let them know how proud you are of them. Building their self-esteem through deserved praise will go a long way toward creating an optimistic attitude.
Refrain from Criticism
Criticizing you child will not motivate him to try harder; it will only lead to negative attitudes. Try helping your child with the activity or school project that is frustrating him and give encouragement when he reaches his goal. Even if a goal isn’t attained, remind your child that he tried and did the best he could. Your child will most likely not excel at everything he does, but remind him that all experiences are learning experiences.
Optimism can be learned at any age, so if you feel you are modeling pessimistic behavior, try looking for the bright side of things more often. It’s a proven fact; on the average optimistic people live longer and are healthier. Teaching your children to have a positive attitude will not only help them lead a happier life, but a healthier one also.