O for Optimism

How can I help my child be more optimistic?

When parents ask me about optimism for kids it’s often because they’re worried about a child with defeatist attitude or negative thinking. Underneath all this there’s a deeper question about what makes children happy and a desire for their child to be happier.

Let's be optimistic as adults and as parents and let's help our children be more optimistic as well. So when I'm using the word, when I come up with the word optimistic with kids, they often by 8 to 11 years, they don't know what it is. So I just say it's a grown up word for adults.

So what? Why can we be optimistic, especially at this time, when we're struggling a lot, a lot of people struggling with COVID. Well, the thing about optimism is it's looking forward to a brighter future. Can you believe? Optimistic. Optimistic is being positive. It's anticipating happy times ahead, or that things will work out. And so that's how I usually explain it to kids.

 

And as adults, there's so many of us, including me, that worry about the future. So if we can worry about the future, we can also be optimistic about the future. Because that means we can enjoy our future before it actually happens. And yeah, that sounds like when I first heard that from a great guy, a mentor of mine, coming out 11 years ago, a guy called Richard Wilkins, the Minister of Inspiration, you check him out. 

He talks about, you know, enjoying our future before it happens. So say you're dreaming of, I don't know, something that you want to happen. And so the idea perhaps that we will get away this summer for a holiday, or that we will score a goal in the football tournament once we get back to playing football, or we will get a great result in our piano test, something like that. If we are enjoying it before it happens, then we get to good feel good now. And if we're feeling good now, then we're probably more likely to make it happen, if you see what I mean. 

Most people are like waiters, they are waiting. Obviously restaurants are shut at the moment, fingers crossed, they'll be opening up. We are waiting for something to happen to let a good feeling out. Well, what if we flip that around? Again, this is Richard’s philosophy. What if we flip that around and we actually create the feeling that's within us already. As Richard says, our chest is a treasure chest, every good feeling that we've ever wanted is inside us right now.

So what if we let that feeling out now and we get to enjoy our future? And then if what we want to happen doesn't happen, it doesn't matter because we've enjoyed it anyway. And when I heard this, I'm scratching my head I'm thinking, I enjoy the future before it happens, be optimistic about and you're more likely to make it happen? And it goes so counter to the way I used to think, and I used to worry, I still worry about the future sometimes, you know. And my mission is about empowering you as parents, to support you, to help you inspire your children to higher levels of confidence, to higher levels of self-esteem, to higher levels of resilience, what I call bully proofing, which is becoming bully proof so that bullies can’t upset it. That's my dream. 

Okay. And I worry, well, will I help as many people as I really want to? I've worked with 1600 kids and lots of parents and so far, but that's my dream. Will my dream come true? Well, what if I could actually enjoy that right now? Step into that. And it just makes the whole thing, it makes a whole day now, in present tense, that makes it so much better, so much more enjoyable. And so why don't we? Why don't we do that? I guess because we've never been told that we could. 

We see lots of people around us worrying about the future. But, you know, how much worrying is actually going to make the happy thing happen? It doesn't make sense. And so, if we could choose just saying we could, what would you choose? Would you choose to be optimistic or choose to be worrying? I noticed sometimes I worry. And I catch myself and give myself a little metaphorical kick up the bum. And it comes back. It comes back because, you know, our feelings change with our thoughts. We have 70,000 thoughts a day. So this stuff is always coming and going. So let's come in. But what's my default place is a lot more optimistic than it was. And that's that that's all we can ask for, isn't it though? That we learn each day and that we become more optimistic and then we can enjoy the future, just in case what we want to happen doesn't happen. 

We all want our children to be more optimistic. To have more positive in the future. To have more optimism. 

Simon Benn Children's Happiness Expert

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