Between bills, errands, keeping the house clean and diffusing the occasional (or constant) squabbles between your kids, remembering to stay optimistic might feel like an impossible feat as a parent.
But it’s worth it in more ways than you might have imagined.
Optimism as a parent means having faith that a positive outcome is just around the corner, and that there’s no challenge in life too big for your love and strength.
And as it turns out, consciously practicing optimism can improve the quality of life for your entire family.
Optimism can bring about the following benefits:
- Improved coping abilities: Optimism can help you approach challenges as changeable and not self-defining.
- A longer life: Optimism can help fight disease and boost your immune system.
- Better relationships: When you’re friends with an optimist, you can be impact-ed in a positive way. Simply put, happiness is contagious!
Long story short, making an extra effort to keep looking on the bright side has healthy benefits for you and everyone around you.
As a parent, practicing optimism could be the key to helping raise an optimistic child, too.
Here are some helpful tools to bring optimism into your parenting routine so you can raise a positive, resilient child who’s ready to tackle any of life’s challenges.
Life already offers plenty of opportunities for your kids to be compared to others — grades, gymnastics, band, fashion…the list goes on.
Your child needs you on their side to have confidence in the amazing individual that they are.
What could be considered constructive criticism for an employee at your job isn’t the same for your child.
Kids lack the ability to separate the results of their impulses from themselves, and turn criticism of their actions into a reflection of personal failings.
Parenting through comparison and other forms of criticism can create resentment and defiance in your child because of low self-esteem. This makes it harder for your child to recover and fix their mistakes.
How to avoid criticism
Next time your child makes a mistake, it’s important to try to avoid the impulse to com-pare them to a peer to show them what they should have done differently.
Instead of showcasing what makes others special, encourage what makes your child special.
If your daughter loses her swim race every week and is feeling discouraged, help her build confidence in other ways. Has she been doodling in class? Enroll her in a draw-ing class to put that sketchbook she’s been eyeballing to good use.
A large part of being an optimist is learning how to deal with failure.
That’s why it’s so important to help guide your children to find a positive outlook when they feel like they’ve failed.
Try out these tools from the optimist’s tool box the next time your child’s feeling disap-pointed in themselves:
- Instead of getting angry if they fail, help walk them through what happened. For example, if they come home discouraged with a bad test grade, discuss the potential causes. Did they get enough sleep the night before? Did they need more detailed notes?
- Talk about the feelings they had in the process. Figure out how they felt approaching the test, during the test, and after.
- Discuss where these feelings came from, and how they may have effected their performance. Allowing your child to open up to you and reacting with encouragement helps them feel more comfortable with vulnerability, and gives you the chance to calm them down more effectively.
- It’s said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Help your kids break the chain early by teaching them to plan new approaches for next time. They’ll appreciate the structure and fresh perspective on an old problem.
Self-care goes far beyond taking a hot bath. It’s the constant practice of evaluating what your body and mind are telling you they need, and meeting those needs.
Self-care is being your own best friend — and a good one at that!
Teaching self-care to your kinds involves helping them learn how to trust what their minds and bodies need, so they can slow down and stay centered when life becomes stressful.
The following activities can help your child exercise self-care as they grow:
- Exercise: Not only does exercise provide an endorphin release to make your kids happier, but it gives them solid mile-markers of growth as they see their strength and coordination develop.
- Meditation: Teaching kids to meditate allows them to connect with their inner voice, and is proven to help them with focus, coping, relationships and behavior.
- Practicing gratitude: Take time for the whole family to share what they’re thankful for every day. Gratitude is another method of stress-busting, and helps kids build self-confidence.
- Journaling: Teaching your child the habit of journaling is a great way to give them the tools to analyze their day, look for their strengths and acknowledge their growth.
Practice Makes Perfect
Like most things in life, optimism takes practice.
Incorporating optimism into your family crafts and activities to build your child’s opti-mistic muscle memory. Some good go-tos are:
- Worry dolls: Worry dolls are a tradition based on the Mayan legend that when someone is overcome with worries, they can whisper their worries into a worry doll and place it under their pillow. The doll will take the worries from them so they can sleep soundly through the night.
- Wall of love: Draw pictures and cut out images of what love represents to all of you. Put them on display where the whole family can be reminded of the love that surrounds you.
- Kindness coupons: Have your kids pass around these coupon for good deeds and tell whoever they give it to pay it forward. Before you know it, these coupons could become a neighborhood tradition!
Be the Optimist You Want to See in Your Children
This could be the most important step to teaching your kids to be optimistic. You have the power to become an optimist, even if positivity has been a challenge for you in the past.
With a combination of your effort and example, the world of possibilities for you and your kids is endless. Not every day will be perfect, but you can rest well knowing you’re all doing your best.
How do you and your family practice optimism? What are your challenges to staying optimistic as a parent? Share your story below.