Guwahati,

LTALO

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