A pessimistic attitude can be devastating and requires an immediate grasp of where it's coming from. Is your child suffering from reflecting some peer culture or media trend on the street that says it's cool to be down? Is your kid freaking out from watching terrifying news on CNN twelve hours a day? Have there been any recent tragic events in your family or community that may have traumatized her? Has he been having a series of repeated frustrating, disappointing, or distressing experiences at school lately? Does he have a diagnosed (or undiagnosed) health condition that might be affecting his mood? Is he anxious or depressed?
Some of these factors are controllable, and some aren't. Start the triage by a process of elimination. First, cut the ones that have no bearing on your child. Second, put aside the ones you can't control. Finally, focus on the single potential reason that is the easiest to change, like reducing negative media input, preventing him from hanging around with kids who bum him out, or taking him out of that accelerated class if it's causing him so much stress.
"Nothing I do matters.""Why should I bother?""It isn't going to work, ya know!" Unlike kids with a judgmental attitude, these kids have a general doom-and-gloom outlook about the whole world. It's not that they are critical; it's that they feel hopeless.
Kids with pessimistic attitudes are among the most frustrating breeds. They give up easily, believe anything they do won't make a difference, and assume they won't succeed.Then when they do achieve or do something well, they discount the accomplishment: "It wasn't that great." "It was just luck." Sadly, they rarely see the good, wonderful things of life.These kids dwell instead on the negative bad parts, and often those parts are themselves. Instead of being optimistic, they find only the inadequacies in themselves: "I'm so dumb, why should I study?""Nobody's going to like me, so why bother?'"Tm not trying out.Who would pick me for their team?" Because they engage in huge doses of self-pity, pessimistic kids are also self-centered. If left unchecked, this attitude can spiral into cynicism, criticism, and selfishness.Worse yet, it can plant the seeds of underachievement and even depression.
Kids aren't born pessimistic. Research shows a large part of this attitude is picked up along the way, and today's world is fertile for growing cynicism. Need evidence? Just tune in to popular musical lyrics, and listen to the despair.The nightly news and newspapers cement in kids' minds that the world is a bad, hopeless place. More and more kids are succumbing to the "mean world syndrome," and for good reason.Where once those tragic and terrifying world events seemed so far away or only printed words in the newspaper, they are now 24/7 on TV and the Internet. It's no wonder that many kids are pessimistic.
And don't forget how your interpretation of world events affects your kids. After all, many of our kids' views are formed from listening to ours. Sadly, too often kids hear a pessimistic, cynical outlook of life instead of an upbeat or positive one.Take heart: research at Penn State University concludes that parents can teach kids the virtues of optimism, hopefulness, and joyful-ness, which dramatically reduces their pessimistic attitudes, improves their character, and increases the likelihood of long-term happiness.The sooner you start, the easier it will be.
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