PJ Media

The Optimistic Child

I thought I would take a break from politics to tell you about a book I am reading that might be of interest to some of you. I have always liked the work of Martin Seligman who wrote a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0743222989?ie=UTF8tag=wwwviolentkicomlinkCode=as2camp=1789creative=9325creativeASIN=0743222989″emAuthentic Happiness/em/aimg src=”http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=wwwviolentkicoml=as2o=1a=0743222989″ width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” / that I wrote about a href=”http://drhelen.blogspot.com/2006/01/positive-psychology.html”here./a But the other day at work, I picked up a colleague’s copy of Seligman’s a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0618918094?ie=UTF8tag=wwwviolentkicomlinkCode=as2camp=1789creative=9325creativeASIN=0618918094″emThe Optimistic Child: A Proven Program to Safeguard Children Against Depression and Build Lifelong Resilience/em/aimg src=”http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=wwwviolentkicoml=as2o=1a=0618918094″ width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” / and then bought a copy. It is definitely worth a read if you have a depressed child or just want to help your child see the world in a less pessimistic way. br /br /Seligman starts off describing the problem of pessimism in our society. “It boils down to this: dwelling on the most catastrophic cause of any setback. Pessimism is fast becoming the typical way our children look at the world.” He goes on to state that “pessimism is an entrenched habit of mind that has sweeping and disastrous consequences: depressed mood, resignation, underachievement, and even unexpectedly poor health.” br /br /Later in the book, Seligman takes on the self-esteem movement, stating that the way Armies of American teachers along with American parents are trying to bolster kid’s self-esteem is actually eroding kid’s sense of self-worth. “By emphasizing how a child emfeels,/em at the expense of what a child emdoes/em–mastery, persistence, overcoming frustration and boredom, and meeting challenge–parents and teachers are making this generation of children more vulnerable to depression. Often, people think that low self-esteem leads to school failure, drug use, dependence on welfare and other social ills. But the research literature shows just the opposite. Low self-esteem is a consequence of failing in school or being on welfare, of being arrested–not the cause.” br /br /The rest of the book focuses on direct information and techniques for parents to help their child overcome the depression that comes from thinking in a pessimistic way. “Children who are prone to depression focus on the worst-case scenario, about their troubles and about the problems of the world. They blame themselves for the uncontrollable: they gravitate to the most negative interpretation…. Such children can learn to think about other factors that may have contributed to the problem, so that they can problem-solve by focusing their energy on the parts of the problem that are under their control.”br /br /The final chapter talks about the limits of optimism, for example, pointing to studies that show that depressed people are accurate judges of how much skill they have, whereas non-depressed people think they are more skillful than others judge them to be.br /br /Anyway, it is a good book with some good information if you are a parent or teacher in need of some help for a child who suffers from depression.