It’s important to raise your kids to be optimistic. This positive trait, often overlooked in the list of things you want your child to be, is surprisingly essential in helping them succeed in life. As it turns out, optimism is linked with resilience and determination. Yes, believing you can succeed at something means you’re more likely to actually have the patience, motivation and desire to keep trying until you do succeed.
But how do you instill optimism in a child? And how you do prevent that optimism from being complacency and overconfidence? Striking the balance seems impossible, but psychologists say it’s all about mimicking the attitude you want your kids to show. Lead by example and they’ll learn to keep their chin up and the importance of getting back up on your feet.
Adopt a positive attitude
Showing your kids what an optimistic attitude looks like is one of the most effective ways to get them to exhibit that same optimism. Try to avoid complaining about small or petty problems in front of your child. Instead, talk about the upsides of any changes to your plans, or remind yourself that there can be opportunities to fix a problem or improve behavior in the future. Remaining calm and cheerful in the face of adversity will serve as a great reassurance to your kids, who will begin to take after you.
This also means avoiding a blow-up when something goes terribly wrong, either in your life or your child’s life. Don’t throw a screaming fit if she flunks a test. Calmly talk about the ways she can recover from the failure and what she can do to make up the work instead. By remaining level-headed in a crisis and avoiding the example of an emotional meltdown, your kids will learn that they don’t have to respond to bad news with grief or panic.
Expect the best from your child
Although you should teach your kids to bounce back from failures, you should also teach them to develop high expectations of themselves by having high expectations for them. They can ace their class and join an honors course. They can score a goal in the soccer club. Raising the expectations high will encourage them to reach higher in order to meet those expectations, and will encourage your children to challenge themselves.
Teach your son to be willing to enter a risky situation by reminding him that if he fails spectacularly, the world isn’t over and he can try again. It doesn’t have to be something extreme as taking him scuba diving, but something that is challenging nonetheless. Encourage them to try new things they haven’t done before, and reassure them that they have room to fail but should aim for the best. This attitude teaches your child that success isn’t about excelling at an easy task but struggling with a difficult task. A child prepared to struggle for what they want won’t crumble in the face of adversity.
Give your children attention
Your kids want to know that you’re interested in their success, but if you’re constantly wrapped up in work projects and your phone, they may not really believe you’re interested. It’s crucial that you provide your children with your full attention, often. Talk to them about how their endeavors are going, respond to their creative suggestions and play with them when you have time.
If your daughter says she has a problem at school or in her friend group, listen to it. Inquire regularly about problems she’s told you about before so she knows you’re paying attention, and give her positive, uplifting advice about how to cope with it. This loving and reassuring attention will help build your child’s self-esteem and confidence.
Optimism can give your child the can-do attitude and drive to succeed in life, especially if you pair it with resilience and determination. Teach your child how to exhibit these winning traits by modeling them yourself, showing your child how to develop high expectations for themselves and building up their self-esteem so they believe they can fulfill those expectations.