Turning the Negative to Positive: Developing Optimism in Children

This world needs positivity, and it’s up to the kids to make that happen.

Optimism is rare these days, not a lot of people is as positive as they intended to be. But the thing about optimism is, it can take you places if you’ll only open your mind to possibilities. This mindset is something that you have to teach your kids especially now that there are heaps and heaps of unforeseeable challenges ahead.

“Optimism is a mindset.  It encompasses a ‘can do’ attitude, such as seeing opportunity where others see failure,” write Shoba Sreenivasan, Ph.D., and Linda E. Weinberger, Ph.D.


source: flickr.com

By teaching your kids optimism, you are teaching them how to stay positive amidst a gloomy disposition, which is very beneficial to their psychological and physical well-being in the days ahead. How does one develop optimism in children?

Breathe then React

It’s quite easy to let your emotions get the best of you; we’ve all gone through moments in our lives that we have reacted on a spur-of-the-moment yet somehow wish we didn’t. Teach your kids the importance of taking a quick second to breathe deeply to give themselves time to figure out what the next, appropriate step should be.

“Allowing ourselves to acknowledge annoying predicaments and then find constructive ways to express and deal with them serves us much better in the long run,” writes Ilene Strauss Cohen, Ph.D.

If your child is bullied at school, help her scrutinize the situation and plot a plan on what to say or do the next time it happens. Don’t just barge into the other parents’ house and do or say something you’ll regret. This kind of attitude is one way of reinforcing empowerment positively by getting a hold of one’s emotions. Your child will learn self-control and boost her confidence, learning that they can take on anything with wit, poise, and tact.

Hold the Negatives

In other words, quit your complaining and start appreciating the good things life has to offer. Sometimes, parents are exhausted and stressed; they no longer have the energy to hold what’s inside them and begin to express how they feel in front of the kids vehemently.

“Reacting negatively to negative feelings creates a vicious loop where we feel bad about feeling bad, leaving us stuck in a cycle of negativity,” writes Gregg Henriques, Ph.D.

Be mindful of what you say if your kids are around. Negativity is infectious. If you start airing out your frustrations and negative thoughts, you are introducing your kids to pessimism. Focusing on the negative does not help in raising an optimist. Instead of fixating on the things that are going wrong, divert your energy on the things that are going right.

Keep Your Head High


Make your kids understand that life is full of ups and downs that sometimes, no matter how hard they do good, worse things happen. Let them realize that things won’t always go their way and that’s okay; that’s part of living. There’s the promise of tomorrow to try again and see what happens. Instead of seeing it as a weakness, tell them that failures and mishaps are great tools to be stronger and wiser. Make them realize that there are a lot of things to look forward to and there are so many possibilities that they can do.


Example, if your kid fails at a particular exam, don’t harangue them. They know they did awful and berating them for their poor performance for the quiz or how incompetent they are will only frustrate them and make them feel worthless. Instead, devise a plan. Guide your children how to do better next time. Help them set goals and make them work harder. Allow them to identify the mistakes they did so they won’t do it again. Show them that by organizing a plan and setting up objectives, they can do better.


source: pixabay.com


Take Risks


Parents are usually hesitant to let their children tread on murky waters, protecting them so they won’t get harmed physically and emotionally. If you see your kid get hurt while learning to ride a bike and the kids in the neighborhood are laughing at him, do not discourage your kid because this kind of attitude will only undermine his capability and confidence; thereby allowing pessimism to take over.


Getting hurt is part of the educational process. You win some; you lose some. But that doesn’t mean that your kids have to stop taking risks just because they drove through a garbage can and turned all messy. They need to know how to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and keep trying. Once a task has been fulfilled, your child will appreciate the risk that she or he took and will be more determined to look forward to the next challenge.


Teaching optimism when you have already depleted its supply within you is a challenge. But let’s face it, at the end of the day, we are always hopeful for something. Give your kids a fighting chance at life by seeing things with an optimistic perspective because, in this journey, it’s way better to be positive than to be negative.

And if you need someone to listen to your thoughts and understand your feelings, BetterHelp is a good site to visit. Their trained counselors and therapists are willing to lend their ear for people like you.