Consider the way you talk about yourself to your child…

Children are sponges and will pick up their primary parent’s way of thinking about the world. What does that mean? It means that if you are are an optimist, your kids will be, too. If you tend to put a negative frame on your life events, your children will also learn to interpret the world this way.

Why does this matter? An optimistic frame has been shown to better support resilience and your child’s hope for their future, helping them bounce back from tough times.

Think about these two key principles to adopt an optimistic explanatory style and boost your child’s resilience.

1. Temporary vs. Permanent

When bad events feel permanent, it can hinder your child from believing they can change their circumstances. In contrast, when difficult events happen, as they will in every life, show your child that most of these are temporary and can be overcome with time.

Start by avoiding “always” and “never” in your explanations. “This kind of thing always happens to me” feels pretty permanent. The more temporary your child sees challenging times to be, the more they will be optimistic for the future.

2. Specific vs. General

It’s easy to see patterns in life and group them all together, but this style of explanation can leave us feeling pessimistic about our chances to make change. Try to be specific about the issues you face.

For example, after a lazy day with nothing crossed off the to-do list, try saying “I was feeling lazy today” instead of “I am lazy”. The latter is more specific to the situation at hand and leaves room for tomorrow to be different while the former seems unchangeable.