Teaching Kids The Power Of Optimism


Optimism is more than just positive thinking, it is a way to battle vulnerability that is created when one approaches a challenge with a defeated mindset. Kids refuge to engage in any activity that could lead them to improved outcomes after they are struck with defeat. Even if the ways are obvious, available and easier than the already tried ones, they don’t want to indulge in any activity after the defeat in their attempts. In contrast, optimism forms negative events as a launchpad to favorable outcomes.  

Realistic optimism should be a teacher’s goal. Realistic optimists identify real-life experiences or results and aspire to achieve the possible outcomes. They see the path to success as full of twists and turns. Consequently, they are not risk-averse. Teaching students about optimism can help them see objectionable events as opportunities for learning.

Realistic optimism teaching

The term “negativity bias” refers to a human brain’s reaction towards negative, unpleasant events. At the end of a school day, if a teacher is focused on a singular instance that did not go so well compared with the many events that did go well, then that teacher is exhibiting this bias. Modeling optimism is the most appropriate way to fight against negativity bias, but there are several other things a teacher can do as well.

Reframe negative events into positive opportunities

Teachers should challenge kids to seek positive ways of evaluating an event. A student who failed to win in the spelling bee might feel demoralized and demotivated. Instead, they should benefit from this opportunity by promoting the vision that, involvement in the contest is actually a great preparation for better future performances. Any failure or unpleasant event can be reframed as a positive, or, as the famous quote says, “an opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

Selective focus

Teachers should teach students to focus mainly on thoughts and events that lead to action oriented-solutions. As said previously, nothing might go as planned, optimism would enable to get you the desired results with non-conventional methods, suppose a student wants to give a presentation on a chapter to the class and the power goes off, then the particular student could take the whole class out in the fields and capitalize on the opportunity to both entertain and giving the presentation to the class.

Use of humor  

Using humor in any situation lightens up the air and introduces a positive vibe. To provide an example a student did a wrong drawing in online art competitions for kids, instead of getting demoralized the kid said that, he has submitted the drawing for the upcoming event. This hilarious reaction of the kid enabled the student to get participation in the upcoming contests, where he emerged as a winner.

Teaching an optimistic explanatory style

 The negativity bias is associated with a pessimistic explanatory style or the way an individual explains the reason for an event. Psychologist Martin Seligman describes how individuals differ in their explanatory styles across three dimensions: 

  • Personalization: Is the cause perceived to be internal or external?
  • Permanence: Is the event-specific (a one-time event) or eternal?
  • Pervasiveness: Is the event applies only to a specific situation, or is it global?

Teachers should teach students to replace frequent pessimistic narratives with an optimistic explanatory style. A student who fails a math test might say, “I’m bad at math.” In contrast, a student with a more optimistic explanatory style may engage in the self-talk in this pattern: 

  • Personalization: “I didn’t study—that’s why I failed the test.”
  • Permanence: “This is just the first test. I have to work on practice problems every day. I’ll ace that second test!”
  • Pervasiveness: “I’m doing well in other subjects!”

A student having the learned helplessness will adopt an attribution that the situation is internal, eternal, and global. This explanatory style could possibly be apparent in early childhood. Because self-talk often becomes automatic and habitual, there should be a place for teaching optimism in the classroom.  

Teachers also need to practice optimistic explanatory thinking. For example, at the end of a poorly executed lesson, a teacher might grieve, “This always happens. I’ll definitely get a poor evaluation.” Using a more optimistic explanatory style, the same teacher might think, “That didn’t go as well as I had hoped for. I’ll find a better way of presenting this topic.” And believe it or not, psychologists have proved that, having an optimistic approach towards life would help us in longer runs.


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