- Begin taking walks with your children and point out the beautiful sights, for example, in the early spring notice the buds on the trees, then the emerging flowers and then the tiny leaves unfolding. These wonderful happenings occur every year, but will happen without us unless we take note. By making it a habit to notice these changes with our children, they will eventually notice them on their own, which helps teach the habit of optimism.
- Point out thankful moments to your child, be it big or small: i.e. all the traffic lights were green when we were going to an appointment so we made it on time.
- Encourage your children to point out thankful moments as they see them and delight in them together.
My students came back to school last week after their long winter break. I always begin the first day back by asking them how they spent their holiday and what they enjoyed most about it. Invariably, the children begin by listing all of the presents they’ve received. Their lists get pretty long. I noticed that several children remarked that they got “mostly everything they wanted”. In effect, the children were complaining. I was disappointed in their response and told them so. I pointed out to them how much time, care and money their families spent to ensure they had an enjoyable holiday and that it was up to them to appreciate it completely, not just partially. I decided that a ‘teachable moment’ had arrived. I then took a cup and filled it half way up with water and told the children that a person could either say that the cup was half full or half empty depending on their outlook. I explained to them that it is one’s outlook that is key. I believe optimism and pessimism are in part learned behaviors. If we allow our children to view the world as “theirs for the taking” then take they will and often with a begrudging attitude. My own children were not only taught to appreciate what they were given, but also not to always expect something. I spent time teaching them to appreciate and be thankful for a sunny day, or the joys of a cozy rainy day. They learned to appreciate their eyesight and their ability to walk. Additionally, teaching optimism for the little things will help make lasting impressions for how children view the world. For instance my children learned early on to be thankful for finding a parking space right in front of the store, rather than having to park far away. By increasing our children’s awareness of what is good and beautiful in the world, we teach them to view the world as a sunny place and to be thankful to be a part of it. Tips:
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