As children we have learnt from our parents how to respond and act (Warschaw, 1995). Many of the ways that we deal with situations can be traced back to how our parents responded to such things as:
- changes in the environment
- challenges and setbacks
- social interactions
- personal goals
Families are mentors to their children, so it is important that each family member is aware of how they respond and take action. Having strong problem-solving skills and confidence in achieving the best possible outcomes is an important ingredient in any family.
- Be optimistic yourself ... a child often learns best through observing how parents respond and not to what they say.
- Show your child that thoughts and feelings work together to create a positive attitude. Optimism is the connection we have between our thoughts and emotions, and the belief that we have a positive impact through our actions on the environment.
- Watch your language! Language often exercerbates thoughts and feelings by 'labelling' and 'validating' them.
- Re-contextualise any problem your child may have by creating a list of possible alternative outcomes through specific strategies and tasks that can be accomplished.
- Zoom out – see the bigger picture, zoom back in – to a newly created possibility/desired outcome
- Listen to your child.
- Create time to talk over the day. Your child may just need to talk through an issue and in doing so, may bring their own understanding to the situation
- Respect your child's uniqueness and encourage their need to express themselves.
- Show your child that each situation constantly changes which brings new possibilities and new outcomes
- Experience the inter-connectedness of community. When we feel that we are connected and inter-dependent we are more likely to receive support and achieve an optimistic disposition towards life.
Finally, bring a sense of humour and lightness to each situation. Keep it simple, learn, laugh and connect.
Create situations where your child will experience positive outcomes from their actions. Help them understand the importance of setting realistic goals, and creating strategies to achieve positive outcomes.
Help children adjust to new situations and issues as they arise. Show them that distractions and diversions from original goals and plans are natural and constant re-evaluation is normal. Again, perspective is most important.
Are you an optimism? Do you see the glass as being half-empty, or half-full? Have a go at the popular Life Orientation Test (Scheier & Carver, 1984). On a scale of 0 (extreme pessimism) to 24 (extreme optimism), how do you rate?
On average, most people score a rating of 15 - this being slightly optimistic.
Click here to download the worksheet (pdf)