Hope and Optimism
As I write, it is a cold, grey, mid-January kind of day. The glow and excitement about the New Year has faded. Last week started with Blue Monday and for many it didn't get much brighter! Storms are raging outside and Hope and Optimism seems a little out of place. A difficult concept to nurture. Surely, it’s easier to think about hunkering down, building defences. As a trusted adult, when I am feeling grey, it is good to remember why hope and optimism are important to help children develop.
Being hopeful requires us to suspend our current experience and believe that, as night follows day, the sun will shine again. That the birds will sing and flowers will bud. Being optimistic requires us to expect a better day, trusting that one will come again soon. For all humans, young and old alike, being hopeful and optimistic profits us. Here are some of the main advantages that hope and optimism offers.
- It supports bounce-backability - by helping us to view challenges as opportunities to learn and grow. Making a mistake becomes less daunting because being optimistic helps us learn how to conquer setbacks.
- It helps us to be kind and have empathy. These behaviours support and strengthen connections, promoting strong relationships. A hopeful person is more likely to cooperate with others too, which supports relationships with children and adults alike.
- It makes us more likely to experience pleasurable emotions, such excitement and joy. Regularly experiencing joyful emotions protects us from anxiety and depression.
Furthermore, if these benefits aren’t enough - hope and optimism may help children to find their voice and speak their mind - in a way that they will be listened to.
What if yours, or your child's natural disposition leans away from hope or optimism? The great news is that we can nurture hope and optimism. Children are never too young to learn these skills. Remember the old proverb, train a child in the way they should go and they won’t depart from it? Grown ups are never too old too! Try these suggestions to help nurture hope and optimism. You may find it chases away the winter blues too.
- Encourage your child to have a positive mindset. If they have a ‘whoops' moment, it’s OK. It’s normal to experience these. It’s an ideal opportunity to reset and learn from what happened. You can also try to help them see positives in each situation.
- Whenever your child succeeds, whether big or small, celebrate with them. A party isn’t always needed! It may be as simple as pausing for a moment, focusing your attention and congratulating them. When they have worked really hard and shown deep commitment to achieving success, mark the moment with a special treat. Celebrating doesn’t need to be expensive - most children find our time and attention rewarding enough!
- If your child faces a big challenge, support them to break it down into realistic smaller goals. Help them to find ways to overcome the challenges. When they see that they can master something that is difficult, hope and optimism will develop.
Use the “Watch” button and apply the Hope and Optimism filter to find stormbreaks related to staying hopeful and optimistic.
Director of Emotional and Mental Wellbeing at stormbreak