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Raising an Optimistic Child

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One of the greatest expectations of educators at ELC is that they do not merely help with a direct point of need without imparting a deeper lesson; in other words, we do not ‘spoon feed’ or ‘hold a student’s hand every step of the way’ so that they might find themselves at the end of the journey without having really experienced it. Ultimately we want students to be independent learners so that they can stand on their own two feet, no matter what journey they decide to make.

For those students who haven’t yet gained this independence, often because parents (Mum, 99% of the time! Sorry, Mums.) have propped them up over an extended period of time, there comes a time when they have to learn by just plain doing for themselves. They need to experience the grief and anxiety that comes with failure and the confidence that grows through learning from their mistakes.

Optimistic children take responsibility and make mistakes

Let young kids do things for themselves, with you supporting them instead of doing for them to help them develop their own confidence and optimism which springs from achievement. Good teachers foster self-esteem by guiding their students to find their own way rather than instructing them to take each step. At home, the sooner kids take on household responsibilities like sorting washing, cleaning up after themselves, etc, the faster this confidence takes hold.

Acknowledge their efforts, especially any struggles they face, and let them know what they have done particularly well and that their efforts have meant less work for you. The same goes for effort they put into school work. However, don’t habitually praise every single thing a child does. You don’t need to tell them something is great when it isn’t (children sense false praise; plus, it trivialises true praise), but give them credit for their own accomplishments. Over-praising can spur egotism and anxiety.

When their efforts have led to success, mention the traits which helped lead to such a good outcome. Project these strengths into the future by suggesting that they can use the similar attitudes, capabilities or strategies in future situations. Especially in situations which the child holds to be important. You could mention that the strong work ethic and intelligence that went into a successful test score can help them reach other goals. Read more about reacting to test scores, the point of testing, and while we’re at it, NAPLAN.

You might also like: The Psychology of Effective Learning

Or if you’d like to discuss what we could do your child’s schooling and future, please get in touch.

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About the Author: Leo Blore
Leo Blore, owns and operates Extended Learning Centres with 39 years’ experience in education, in both administration and the classroom, within primary and secondary schools, in both the private and state systems in different states and territories, and the establishment of new primary and secondary schools. Leo has also studied school systems in the US, UK, Singapore, Hong Kong and Ireland to view first-hand the school systems in operation in those countries. He wrote and published Exploring Central Australia in 1988.

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