It’s also, arguably, the most influential of all emotions. Hope is what gets us through stressful times. It’s also what gives us the courage to reach out for help when we need it, trusting that by doing so, things will get better.
At Kids Help Phone, many kids reach out saying they feel hopeless. Young people are under a lot of pressure, even from a young age, to become career-oriented, excel in school, and fit in among their peers in a variety of ways – from having the latest technology to the newest clothes.
Too much pressure can affect a young person’s ability to cope with everyday situations, causing stress and anxiety. It can affect kids’ self-esteem, mental health, and leave them feeling powerless over their own lives.
Tips for Teaching Your Kids How to be Hopeful:
Teach them that small steps lead to big change. Kids – teenagers especially – can tend to see things in black and white. When things are good, they are really good. When something goes wrong, though, then everything is wrong.
That’s why small steps are important. When we help to give kids some perspective on a problem and show them that change can happen by taking small steps, we can start to restore their hope. It can also help kids to be reminded of what is going right.
Not everything happens at once – and that’s okay. When kids have big goals – such as getting into a prestigious university or landing a high-powered career – or are worried about the future (“What will I be one day?” “Will Grade 6 be a lot harder than Grade 5?”) they might need help in seeing that these things don’t happen all at once.
Maybe you have an example from your own life that you can share with them: how did you get to where you are today?
Think back to when you started your first job, or how you felt when you started a new grade. Help your kids understand that getting from Point A to Point B takes time, and that there are lessons to be learned along the way – the lessons they need to eventually reach their goal.
Show kids what it means to be hopeful. Kids can learn a lot about how to “be” in the world by the adults around them. Acknowledge that things aren’t always easy – not even for parents.
Open up to your kids about some of your own challenges in a way that they will understand, in order to have a conversation about the solutions you took, or will take, to find a resolution to the problem.
By showing a range of emotions with your kids, it helps to create space among your family to express their own feelings, even the tougher ones, like fear, anger, frustration and uncertainty. This can help to develop stronger communication with your kids, as it shows them that it’s okay to talk about worries, failures, or setbacks.
It also helps to demonstrate to kids that problems aren’t permanent and that by taking the right steps, situations can change.
Let them know that you are always there. Sometimes it’s enough for a kid just to know that they have someone who will listen when they need to be heard, and who will always be hopeful for them no matter what they are going through.
Do you have any tips to share?