August 1, 2011

More Optimism Tips

"Nurture your mind with great thoughts;
to believe in the heroic makes heroes.”
-Benjamin Disraeli

Since our theme this session is optimism, and it’s one of my favorite topics, I've been reading up on the topic and thinking about how it relates to my own family and to our campers. I thought I’d share with you some of what I’ve learned about the importance of teaching kids to be optimists.
According to Dr. Christine Carter in her booking Raising Happiness, “Ten-year-olds who are taught to think and interpret the world optimistically are half as prone to depression when they later go through puberty.” Wow! With the rising statistics on kids and adults who suffer from depression and anxiety, that’s a pretty powerful reason to focus on helping our kids be more optimistic!

Carter recommends three ways parents (and counselors) can help kids be more optimistic: give affection; teach kids to cope with challenges and frustration; and model optimism ourselves. At camp, kids have ample opportunities to try new, often challenging activities. Learning to deal with the frustration of not being able to get up on water skiis on the first, second, third, or fourth try is a powerful lesson in both persistence and optimism. Our role is to help kids learn to handle setbacks and frustrations in a positive way and realize that “success is 99% failure.” (Soichiro Honda)
“Optimism is so closely related to happiness that the two can practically be equated," says Carter, whose research has found that optimistic people are:
• More successful in school, at work, and in athletics
• Healthier and longer lived
• More satisfied with their marriages

• Less likely to suffer from depression
• Less anxious

In an article titled “Raise Your Children to be Optimists,” Elizabeth Scott, MS, gives these ten tips for parents:
1. Help Them Experience Success
2. Give Credit for Success
3. Look for Future Success
4. Don't Praise Indiscriminately
5. Validate, but question
6. Remember Success in the Face of Failure
7. Look for "Opportunities to Improve"
8. Look for the Bright Side
9. Don't Use Negative Labels

10. Make an Example of Yourself
“The world always looks brighter from behind a smile.”
~Author Unknown

Smiling is another powerful tool in promoting optimism, so we practice a lot of smiling around GAC!

During this second week of Session 3, we will continue to promote optimism and help campers have a more optimistic outlook. We hope their new optimism habits will help campers approach life more positively when they get back home!

Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents, by Christine Carter, PH.D.
Optimism Activities (Fishful Thinking website)

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