I work very hard at finding a positive within tough times but the other day I was having a really hard day. I was running late for work, hadn’t had any dinner yet and was rushing, eating on the go and feeling flustered. When I got to work (just on time to start my class) I discovered that none of my students were there and now I had an hour before my next class. I was even more frustrated and annoyed now and I sat simmering in my frustration for that hour. As my next class was about the start the first student arrived and asked for a hug. I’m not sure who needed that hug more. And there, just like that, I found the positive in my day. It is a little thing but by highlighting this small act of kindness I can focus on the positive and I can blur the frustrations of the day. There is a lot of negative in the world and stress and worry about that and about issues in our lives. All this stress can create a focus on the wrong things. Instead, find that little spot of light to brighten your mood, and your day.
I visited a grade 1-2 class to gather ideas and illustrations for Optimistic Octopus. The children decided that the octopus was going to plan a picnic with his friends but when everything seems to go wrong he makes it work anyway.
They suggested it could rain or snow which would put a damper on the picnic. But then when I asked what would be the positive side of each of these problems they enjoyed coming up with ideas to change the picnic to suit the situation.
"Optimistic says it is important to know
to take each day as it flows.
Always believe it will work out in the end,
And share your optimism with your friends."
Look at the choices
In the book Optimistic looks at other ways they could still have fun. In life we often say on one hand...and on the other hand.... well Optimistic has 8 hands! That's a lot of alternate choices.
I think it is important to teach children that there are options to different scenarios. Allow them to see different perspectives, possible outcomes and understand that when things don't go your way it doesn't mean it hasn't gone wrong, it just means there needs to be a bit of an adjustment to put it back on track.
Creating a situation map can be a great visual way to help a child deal with situations that don't go as planned. In the centre write the activity - like a picnic. Then create possible obstacles that may change how that activity will go - like rain, snow, bugs etc. For each obstacle make notes about how that will change the activity but still make it enjoyable, what you can take to prepare for such changes and show them the positive side that a good attitude can create.
Here are some great worksheets to help inspire the conversation, encourage optimism and create ideas for looking on the bright side!