How to Raise an Optimistic Child in a Pessimistic World

It can be easy to focus on the negative things going on in the world and what you should worry about, especially as a parent. Thanks to the 24-hour news cycle, social media, cell phone notifications and even sources you wouldn’t expect, like Instagram and YouTube, we’re all immersed in the news.

But don’t give up. Ironically, even though media and technology seem to be the cause of our collective pessimism, they’re also essential for overcoming it, either by using them wisely or knowing when to put them away.

1. Put things in perspective

How you respond to news makes a difference in how kids process it, too. Help your kids put things in perspective by explaining that the loudest voices capture the most listeners—and you should always do your own research. When you “right-size” things, it lessens kids’ fears and restores hope.

2. Talk about what you’re grateful for

Counter defeatist attitudes by nurturing your kid’s character. Strong character grounds your kids when the world feels chaotic. Take the time to share what you’re grateful for and have them participate, too. Encourage them to persevere against obstacles and to have compassion for others.

3. Fight fake news

Many kids say they can’t tell the difference between what’s real and fake online. Confusion, doubt, lack of trust are all things get in the way of being optimistic. But kids have the tools to fight fake news. They can use online fact-checking tools to discover the truth (or at least uncover the fraud). Plus, they can refuse to contribute to the spread of false information by not sharing stuff they can’t verify and can call out dubious claims when they see them. Taking fact-checking into your own hands is empowering.

4. Stand up to bullies

Teach your kid that the buck stops with them. When they see someone getting bullied—and it happens all the time in texts, on social media, and in online games—they shouldn’t just stand by. While they should never do anything that would endanger themselves, they can do a lot to assert their support of others.