How to raise an optimistic human in a pessimistic world

If you’re raising kids today, it can be easy to focus on the negative. No wonder!  
Thanks to the 24-hour news cycle, social media, cell phone notifications – and even sources you wouldn’t expect, like Instagram and YouTube –kids are immersed in doom and gloom. Consider their world: The suicide rate is up, cyberbullying is rampant, the United States is more divided than ever, and people are now live-streaming murder and suicide. It’s understandable if you don’t feel like putting on a happy face every day and keeping your kids optimistic about the future.
Don’t give up! Ironically, even though media and technology seem to be the cause of our collective negativity, they’re also essential for overcoming it, either by using them wisely or knowing when to put them away. Here are six ways to find that silver lining in every cloud.
Put things in perspective--When tragedy strikes somewhere in the world, we relive it each time we turn on the TV, open social media, check our phone notifications, or even walk by a supermarket tabloid with sensationalized headlines. Adults understand that the media amplifies things for eyeballs, clicks and ratings, but kids don’t necessarily get the connections among sources, sponsors, and audiences. 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.
Talk about what you’re grateful for ‒ Go against negative attitudes by nurturing your child’s character. Strong character grounds your kids when the world feels chaotic. Take the time to share what you’re grateful for and encourage them to persevere against difficult challenges and to have compassion for others. Expressing gratitude makes people feel more optimistic!
Fight fake news. Many kids say they can’t tell the difference between what’s real and what’s fake online. Confusion, doubt, and lack of trust get in the way of being optimistic.  We all have the tools to fight fake news by using online fact-checking tools and we can refuse to contribute to the spread of false information by not sharing stuff we can’t verify.
Stand up to cyberbullies. 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 by calling out cyberbullies, reporting them, standing up for the victim, or just private-messaging the victim and telling them someone cares. It’s not tattling. It’s everyone’s duty to keep the internet a positive, productive place.
Stamp out hate speech. Online anonymity has some unintended consequences. People think they can post hatefullanguage or share insulting images without fear of being discovered. Hate speech is not a victimless offense.  Hate speech hurts people, contributes to an overall negative environment, and is sometimes a cry for help from someone in crisis. Explain how to handle hate speech: Don’t respond to it, and block people who do it, report offenders, and never share it.
Tune out the world for a while
Grab your loved ones, and shut everything else down. If they’re all there with you, you won’t miss anything. Simply being together sends your kids the message that family time takes precedence over everything else.
Remember: “One person can make a difference and everyone should try.” JFK
Thank you Caroline Knorr for sharing this!

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