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THE POWER OF NURTURING OPTIMISM

LITTLE THINGS ABOUT

LITTLE ONES

Dr. Gayatri Bezboruah


“Oh, come on, let us think of the better side of the situation,” or “It there no other way of getting out of this situation,” or “I think we should all be optimists while our children are growing up,” or “I can survive this tsunami only if I become an eternal optimist soon,” and the list goes on. We have used these lines so many times as parents because we are looking for ways to tide over the problems we face and deal with while our little ones are growing up. Optimism is often described as the ability to look at the positive side of things, often talking about the glass half full instead of the glass half empty. Optimists are a great lot of people, handling situations well and good at social relationships. In fact, an optimist is usually willing to take risks which often lead to success and is also able to rebound faster from disappointment. And most importantly, optimists tend to develop the persistence to succeed.

While it may be true that some children maybe born optimists, other children need to be encouraged. And it does not matter what age the children are. We, as parents, should keep encouraging our children to be optimistic, till they become adults. Is this easy or is it difficult? I suppose the answer would depend on whether we want to think of the glass at all, before deciding on whether it is half full or half empty!!

Right encouragement at the right time in the right dose is a miracle drug that works miracles. When our little ones succeed, let us not miss a chance to appreciate them. We need to make sure they know why we are appreciating them. eg., “You did very well to find those crayons by searching under your toys”.

Small steps to victory is the way to go. If we put a big task in front of your children, they may feel frustrated or afraid. Instead we need to break it down into small tasks and work with them to take it one step at a time. We should not pressure them to do it. When they achieve one step their confidence increases and then they can try for the next step.

Stressing on the importance of persistent effort is a great help. If they are about to give up, we need to talk to them about how much effort they have already put in. Appreciate their effort. Encourage them to keep trying.

Positive talk is a wonderful tool we all need to use. When our children talk negatively, we should turn it around to the positive. When they say “Why is my sandwich smaller than yours?”, we can say “I made it smaller so it is easier for you to hold and eat. If you are still hungry after you eat it, I will surely make you another one”.

Stories and movies about people or characters that overcome adversity to succeed hold good lessons for children. They love movies and read too, so they can help us guide our children to optimism.

We need to talk our children through failure. When children fail, don’t blame them. Talk to them about it and tell them that it happens sometimes. Tell them to think about how to get better the next time and not worry about this.

And yes, we need to be a good role model because our children learn from us. When we give them feedback, we need to phrase it positively instead of negatively. Saying “I think you can you put in a little more effort in to that” instead of “Don’t be lazy” changes the picture dramatically. 

All of what we have talked about sounds like optimism is a great thing to teach children. It usually is but as always, an excess of optimism is not good either as it may result in the inability to recognize high risk situations. So we need to use a balanced approach and we will give them a fantastic gift that will help them always.


Dr Gayatri Bezboruah is Professor of Paediatrics, Gauhati Medical College, Guwahati. She can be reached at drgbezboruah@gmail.com or melange.sentinel@rediffmail.com

MIND OVER MATTER
BY GARIASI DUTTA

Q. My school going daughter who is in class 1 looks very tired when she wakes up in the morning. At night she delays going to sleep, finding different excuses. Morning she is very irritated and cranky. How much sleep does a school going kid need. Please suggest.

Name withheld

Ans: A school going child requires minimum 10 hours of sleep every night. Depending on the school timing of your daughter fix a regular bed time routine for her. On waking up in the morning, you will have to take into consideration how much time your daughter would require to get ready for school along with completing toilet routine. Accordingly fix her bedtime at night. This way, she will get a good night’s sleep and feel rested in the morning. Further make sure there are no distractions for your daughter before going to bed at night. Especially avoid television before going to bed at night.

Q. My daughter is 12 years old. Off late is not keen to go to school. She complains of stomach pains, backaches, chest pain, different problem every day. We have got her medical checkup done however doctor found everything to be normal and all tests carried out were normal. Almost 1 month she has not gone to school on and off. Please suggest.

Name withheld

Ans: If your daughter is trying to avoid going to school and complaining of various physical ailments. It could be occurring in response to psychological distress. She may be experiencing severe anxiety which is preventing her from going to school. Some of the factors that contribute to school avoidance at times could be bullying at school, peer issue or adjustment issues with teacher. It is very important to sit down with her and talk to her gently. Do not accuse or label her. If she has problems opening up can take the help of a family member who is close to your daughter. Or else you could take her to meet with a trained mental health professional.

Q. Hello madam, I want to share a problem with you. When I was small i.e., when I was in class 1 to 7th standard I always used to get good marks. Suddenly a great change took place in class 8. I went down in my studies. The answers which I memorized in a few minutes takes a long time. Moreover I don’t get good marks in almost all the subjects. Maam please help me out. Give me a solution to my problem. I am eagerly waiting for your suggestion because I am in class 10 and I want to pass my matriculation examination with flying colours.

(Name withheld)

Ans: I am really glad to note that you are serious about your studies and want to improve your academic performance. Let me share a few pointers with you.

i) Try and take a quick walk before your exam. This will help in boosting your memory.

ii) Speak out loud instead of simply reading while you are trying to memorize your lessons. This way you are 50% more likely to remember instead of reading silently.

iv) Once you complete a particular chapter, reward yourself with a treat. This will help keep you motivated.

v) Take regular study breaks in between. When your brain is working, you need to take regular study breaks to help your brain absorb more information but also to keep you motivated and focused when you are working. Take a short break after 45-50 minutes study as your focus and concentration will become impaired after this period.

vi) Teach what you have learned. If required you can teach a friend or even imaginary. It helps clear concepts.

vii) Practice diagrams during study. This helps in better recall during exams.

viii) Create flashcards for key concepts, definitions, quotes and formulas. This will help memorize better.

ix) Practice. Practicing sample answers of past exam questions can help train your brain to retrieve information.

x) Don’t stay up all night before an exam. Make sure to get adequate rest the night before your examination. Adequate sleep will help your brain assimilate the information you have learned when studying. This will help you remember.

xi) Study in a group. Studying in a group can help you collect new insights to enhance your learning experience

xii) Mediate. Meditation will help you stay focused during study time. It will help you to concentrate when studying and help reduce exam stress.


Ms.Gariasi Dutta is Psychological Counsellor with Down Town Hospital, Guwahati. She can be contacted at 98640-55560 or dutta.gariasi@gmail.com

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