How to Encourage Optimism in Children

10 January, 2020
Optimism is closely related to resilience. Therefore, raising optimistic children is synonymous with raising people who are able to flourish.

Raising children doesn’t only involve providing them with food, security, and affection. It’s also your responsibility to encourage optimism and teach them the values and skills they’ll need to develop in life. Without a doubt, optimism is one of the most necessary and neglected qualities during child-rearing.

Parents often consider this value to be secondary and unimportant. In other words, many associate optimism with cliché phrases such as “Believe in yourself” or “Fight for your dreams.” However, the psychological implications of this concept go far beyond and can help children have a happy and successful life.

Optimism and resilience

Resilience is the most important human ability to cope with adversity, overcome it, and come out stronger on the other side. This is because all humans, sooner or later, will experience difficulties. Thus, having this skill can save them from a lot of suffering in their lives.

From failing an exam to being betrayed by a friend or having to face a breakup or a loss… All these everyday situations can generate a lot of discomfort in those who don’t have the emotional tools to handle them. Therefore, it’s important to strive to help your children develop resilience.

An optimistic child.

However, this ability is associated with other values, which are the ones you need to encourage to build it. Of these, optimism can be a good starting point, as it’s strongly related to the others. In other words, if you encourage optimism in your children, you’ll also help them develop other important skills.

What is optimism?

Optimism is the tendency to find positive and favorable aspects of every situation. Thus, an optimist can face obstacles with courage and perseverance, being aware of what’s going well in their lives and working to improve what isn’t.

Optimistic people have many advantages in their daily lives. They tend to stay hopeful and have better self-esteem and a stronger immune system. In addition, they do more successful actions and are more active when faced with difficulties, taking measures to provide themselves with an emotional support network.

By contrast, pessimistic people have lower self-esteem, lose hope, and give up more easily. When adversity knocks on their door, they tend to become depressed. Thus, they don’t take action and may become resentful. Also, they tend to experience more frequent feelings of anger.

Therefore, optimism is much more than a naive trend or a motivational phrase. It’s an excellent psychological resource that allows people to rely on their own capabilities to achieve success and overcome difficulties. Therefore, although sometimes it’s tempting to focus more on intellectual education, emotional education shouldn’t be neglected.

A positive child.

How to encourage optimism to raise able children

Optimism is the key to being able to face life with confidence and autonomy. Therefore, it’s important to follow some guidelines to encourage optimism in children:

  • Lead by example. Be a model of an active and persevering attitude. Let your child observe your positive and hopeful attitude when you face adversity.
  • Convey the value of gratitude. Being thankful for all the good things around you helps you to always remember that you’re lucky and can hope for the best.
  • When your child faces difficulty, guide them to find the positive aspects and possible solutions. Encourage them to take action instead of getting stuck in passivity and suffering.
  • In addition, reinforce their accomplishments and reward their efforts. It’s essential for optimism to provide us with a sense of internal control. It’s useless to believe that positive situations happen by luck or by chance. Also, help your child see that they have the ability to influence their circumstances. Likewise, that their actions can lead to improvement and success; that they’re able to do anything if they try.
  • Love them and show them your love. Feeling loved will boost their self-esteem, positive self-image, and self-confidence. In addition, having unconditional support can be the safety net they need to explore the world without fear.
  • Bragagnolo, G., Rinaudo, A., Cravero, N., Fomía, S., Martínez, G., & Vergara, S. (2002). Optimismo, esperanza, autoestima y depresión en estudiantes de Psicología. Recuperado de http://www.fpsico.unr.edu.ar/congreso/mesas/Mesa_15/bragagnolo_optimismo. pdf
  • Martínez-Correa, A., Del Paso, G. A. R., García-León, A., & González-Jareño, M. I. (2006). Optimismo/pesimismo disposicional y estrategias de afrontamiento del estrés. Psicothema18(1), 66-72.