How can I encourage my children to be optimistic? - Ask Dr. Kathleen® - Mindful Living Network -
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How can I encourage my children to be optimistic?

by Dr. Kathleen Hall

Nicole, Optimism in a family is rooted in the parents. The parents set the stage on which the drama of family unfolds. If you think about any family right now you admire, the parents and siblings are cheerleaders for each other. You have to be able to convey that optimistic hope to one another in order to promote and preserve communication as children and adults grow and change.

Each person in the family system has different gifts and graces. The family has the opportunity to experience the gift of each person and organize itself so that it can support the dream of each family member. For example, the mother and father may have careers they love; one child is a great basketball player, and another child is a gifted violinist. The challenge of the family is to create the time and energy to support each member of the group. Families can get into trouble if they support the sports enthusiast by going to every Friday night game as a family event but overlook weeknight concerts by the violinist because they are inconvenient. Children innately know if you believe in them.

Because communication is essential, weekly family meetings are a must. You can think of your weekly family meeting as your pep rally. This is the time to share successes and failures in a safe environment. Successes are applauded, but no one boos at the failures. Instead they may listen with empathy and offer encouragement or strategies to overcome an obstacle.

Each week agree on a time for a thirty-minute family meeting. Attendance is mandatory, so everyone’s schedule must be taken into consideration. A different person is the leader of the family meeting each week. This gives each person in the family the experience of power in the family. The meeting is started with a devotional given by the leader. This devotional can be on anything that the family member is interested in. For example, the basketball player may want to do a three-minute piece on Michael Jordan that she believes is inspirational.

The family can also have a concern and worry box they keep in a central place in the home. During the week family members write down what they are worried or concerned about at school, work, home, or with themselves and tuck it in the box to discuss at the meeting. Each week during the family meeting the leader opens the concern box and reads the concerns of the family members so that the entire family can give each person positive feedback, support, and encouragement.

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