Life is a series of ups and downs. There will always be victories and failures. As parents, we should prepare our children for both. How to enjoy success and how to learn from failures and move on. However, way too often parents protect their children and do not let them experience failure. Hence many times children do not know how to handle failure.

Cute schoolboy raising his hands holding blue paper with drawn smile while answering to teacher

I once read a story about 2 salesmen. 2 salesmen were sent to a village in Africa to sell shoes. They went in there and did research and made a note of their observations and came back.

The manager asked them so what do you think?

The first salesman said selling shoes in that village is not possible no one wears shoes and the second salesmen said oh boss it’s a great opportunity no one in that village wears shoes.

Both these salesmen saw the same thing however their reaction to the situation came from their preset mindset. One came from a negative mindset while the other approached the situation from an optimistic mindset.

Let’s define what do we mean by building an optimistic mindset…

An optimistic mindset is one where you see and think about what is happening around you and to you. It is looking for the good in each situation. It is expecting things to go well. It is thinking good thoughts even when things are going bad. It is having hope and faith. It is believing that you can make things better.

Why should we work towards having an optimistic mindset and cultivating one in our children?

Rick Hanson speaks about the negativity bias, which simply means that we have a brain that is like Velcro, for bad experiences, but Teflon for good ones. Our brains automatically look for the negative first in every situation. The basic law of neuroscience is that our thinking creates our reality. When we choose to be pessimistic and complain, nothing will ever be good enough. However, when we choose to be positive, we open ourselves to the opportunities present in every challenge. Our thoughts perpetuate a cycle of experiences, and these experiences are further enhanced by the fact that we attract what we put out into the world, i.e., whiners collect whiners and grateful people surround themselves with others of a similar thought frame.

Optimism can also be beneficial for our health. Research shows that complaining or gossiping affects our energy, mood, brain activity, and stress levels. Every time we complain, our bodies release cortisol, which is a stress hormone, and a prolonged release of this hormone can raise our blood pressure as well as weaken our immune system. It makes us susceptible to illness, with an increased risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

Furthermore, various studies show that there is no stronger predictor of success than having the competency of optimism, which offers a far greater chance of success than pessimism. Being optimistic can make you happier, healthier, and more successful in all that you do. It can help you overcome problems. It can keep you focused on your goals. It can make you less stressed. It can help you have more fun. It helps you to learn more from any situation. It can make you more enjoyable to be around.

Being an optimist and thinking positive thoughts are key ingredients to a great life and being the best version of yourself.

As parents, we should let children fail and then encourage them to look at what they can learn from their experiences. Expecting children to excel in all areas of life and compete with other children is not a great idea, parents should be encouraging them to compete with themselves and strive to perform better than the last time and yet if that does not happen we should encourage them some more. When children start doing this at a young age they will build a foundation for an optimistic mindset and that is precisely what one needs in life to keep moving forward while being content and happy.

Here are some simple exercises you can do with children to help them build an optimistic mindset:

1. Play the glad game: have your child list down all the things they are glad for today. This simple 5-minute exercise will make them focus on the good things that are happening in their life.

2. The positive self-talk exercise: when children experience discomfort or you see them developing an inferiority complex, get them to do a simple positive self-talk exercise. Make them look at their strengths and what they are good at. Positive affirmations work too.

3. Be mindful of what you say you, children when they do something wrong.

4. Pick storybooks that reinforces an optimistic mindset like Pollyanna, Amazing Grace, Good news bad news and more.

You can use this link below to use this workbook on optimistic mindset to start practising right away