The Optimistic Child by Martin Seligman, Ph.D. teaches you how to “immunize” your child against depression by teaching them how to think optimistically. Dr. Seligman is the former president of the American Psychological Association and the founder of the Positive Psychology movement. I absolutely loved his book and I recommend it for anyone, even if you don’t have kids. It is a very dense read. It did make me feel like this was a textbook for a course on child psychology, but what you learn from it is invaluable. The Optimistic Child basically outlines, in a very clear, easy to follow manner, how to use cognitive behavioral therapy in your life. If you want to know what a CBT therapist does in session read this book! Dr. Seligman advocates that every parent has to first learn how to use these skills themselves before they can teach it to their own kids. My poor kids have a psychologist for a mother and I of course read this thinking about how I can help my own kids but the target range for the program here is for 8 to 13 year olds. Children under 8 years don’t yet have the ability for meta-cognition so the approach is a bit different but Dr. Seligman addresses this too at the end of his book.
A few of the key highlights from the book:
Optimism is not just a look at the silver lining, think positive, or wear rose colored glasses approach to life. Optimism, as taught in cognitive behavioral therapy, is how you explain the things that go on around you. It is your explanatory style. Dr. Seligman outlines 3 patterns of thinking that differ the most between optimists and pessimists:…read more