Optimism has to be learned!

Martine Bernier

Health journalist, editor-in-chief

February 3, 2023

Whether it’s unemployment, shocking newsflashes, news of war and violence… Children pick up snippets of conversation and yet only understand fragments of what’s going on in the world: it’s often information that’s difficult to comprehend, but which nevertheless worries the little ones – and rightly so, no less than adults, especially when those closest to them are directly affected. Dad and mom worry about their jobs, pay more attention to the budget than before, let it be known that the family will not go on vacation this year…

A five- or six-year-old child is much more disturbed by his parents’ fears than by the underlying problems. He takes them at their word: If dad or mom “doesn’t have a centime leftover” at the end of the month, he sees total ruin before his eyes.

Play your cards close to your chest within the family. It is pointless to try to trivialize problems that arise – while, dramatizing is equally out of place; rather, you should try to explain the situation to your child in simple terms. Point out possible solutions and avoid discussing your financial situation or similar topics in his presence.

By instilling a basic optimistic attitude in your child, you give him confidence in himself and in the future; he learns to cope with setbacks more easily, pick himself up again, and look ahead. A positive outlook on life is a valuable experience that you should pass on to him. The sooner, the better! A lovingly cared baby, who would be completely helpless on his own, experiences safety, security and thus an optimistic attitude to life at an early age through the affection of his parents. But as soon as it learns to walk, it takes the inevitable step from being completely sheltered to a reality marked by setbacks. By setting limits and forbidding certain things, you help him to process failures and disappointments more easily.

In doing so, you should always pay attention to positive formulations in everything you say. Prohibitions are useful, but it is just as important to show your love to the child again and again and thus convey security to him, without therefore overprotecting him. This also includes encouraging the child’s abilities without praising him or her to the skies, as well as supporting a certain willingness to take risks and positive thinking.

By encouraging your child in his plans and encouraging him to keep dreaming, you make him fit for the future. If you are convinced that the plans you make today will lead to tomorrow’s goals, you will not be deterred by an uncertain future. Introduce your child to such positive experiences (for example, by planning the next vacation together – or “just” taking a cake out of the oven that will be eaten hours later). Encourage them to talk about their dreams and take them seriously, however unrealistic they may seem. He sees himself as a chief in Patagonia? Don’t tell him that his dreams will change over time; he will grow out of some of them without your help.

In the first years of life, your child perceives the world through your eyes. If he or she frequently hears statements such as “I’m underpaid,” “Life is hard… “, he or she runs the risk of internalizing this attitude sooner or later. Even if everything is not going well in your life at the moment, make sure that your child is in contact with other, more positive people (grandparents, relatives, teachers…). Do something together with your child that also appeals to you and let him/her feel that you are having fun doing it. Don’t let a day go by without wonder, laughter and joy! Emphasize the good, the positive. With a backpack full of wonderful memories, your child is optimally equipped for the future.

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