Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Optimistic Child

The Optimistic Child by Martin E.P. Seligman, PhD

My husband found out about this book, The Optimistic Child by Martin E.P. Seligman, PhD which is about a program to help prevent depression in children.  Dr. Seligman I believe studied under Aaron Beck, the man who introduced the world to cognitive therapy. The book talks about how pessimism in life has to do with people believing that something about themselves is permanent, pervasive, and personal.  I'm halfway through the book and my husband has read it twice.  I could have waited to post about it until after I was finished but I was anxious to get it up in case someone happened to come across the blog somehow.

This book is highly recommend by myself and also my husband who has dealt with depression himself.  It is a helpful tool to not only parents, but teachers, coaches, and anyone who works with children.  What I've gotten from this book is that the way we correct them and encourage them has so much to do with their outlook and how they cope in difficult situations which we know of course but it also teaches us what works and why. It seems that success/lack of success plays a large role in whether or not children develop depression and that just telling our children that they are great is not going to be enough (as was tried in the self-esteem movement). We need to help them see that something bad that happens is not forever (permanent), it's not going to transfer to every aspect of their life (pervasiveness), and it's not always their fault (personal). We need to be honest with them about the reality going on around them and teach them how to succeed in whatever situation arises.  It reminds us that aside from these things they can learn to be responsible when things do not go as we wish, regardless of the root of the cause.

I hope I've been helpful in sharing about this book. Non-fiction definitely takes longer for me to read, but this is so worth it as we help to form the minds of children. Hope you and your family benefit from this book.

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