Parenting Pathway #146: Nurture Optimism

Does your child have optimistic or pessimistic tendencies? Simply listening for your child to use positive phrases cannot alone help you determine optimism. Identifying optimistic tendencies requires that you begin by investigating the way your child thinks about the causes to both positive and negative events. 

All children develop habits in how they think about causes: the reasons particularly good or bad things happen to them. These habits develop in early childhood and may not be easy to alter without significant intervention according to Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D., author of The Optimistic Child.

One way to begin to investigate your child’s tendencies is to listen carefully to the words she chooses when talking about disappointing situations including failures, challenges, or rejections. Determine if your child sees these negative situations as permanent or temporary. Listen for them to use the words “always,” “never,” or “sometimes.” The pessimistic child thinks about disappointing situations in terms of “always” and “never.” While the optimistic child thinks about bad events in that they are temporary and changeable with time or effort.

The reverse is true for good situations. Optimistic children see the causes of positive situations as lasting or permanent. While children with pessimistic tendencies think in terms of transient causes and they tend to qualify successes. You may hear a child with a more pessimistic perspective use words like “this time” or “today” to show the temporary reasons for a positive event. For example, “I got a good score this time.”

It probably will come as no surprise that parents have an overwhelming influence on a child’s optimistic or pessimistic tendencies; so begin to also pay attention to the way you think about the causes of positive and negative events in your life.

Coaching Inquiries: How do you see your glass, as half empty or half full? What are your habits and your child’s habits of thinking about causes? What would it be like for you to adopt an optimistic perspective about a negative situation? Is your child likely to see “silver linings” in bad situations?

To reply to this Pathway, use our Feedback Form. To learn more about our Parenting Coaching Programs and to arrange for a complementary Parenting coaching session, Click Here or Email Christina.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Christina Lombardo, PCC, CPCC (
LifeTrek Coaching International
Columbus, OH

Telephone: 614-332-9747
Fax: 415-634-2301

Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services