Raising a Hopeful Child

Raising a Hopeful Child, p.3

Lewis Curry, Ph.D., professor of sports psychology at The University of Montana in Missoula, tested hope in 106 female athletes competing in Big-8 track and field events. Dr. Curry and other researchers analyzed each athlete's best performance and found that, natural ability aside, the more hopeful athletes were also more likely to be successful in competition.

Hopeful people are also more inclined to seize an opportunity, says Yair Emanuel, Ph.D., an Israeli psychologist who has studied hope. Interestingly, boys and girls view their opportunities differently. Until age 12, girls are stronger in the "big hope" of imagining a better world; boys are stronger in the "small hope" of achieving specific aims. A boy who likes a girl, Dr. Emanuel says, may figure out that if he walks a certain way to school, he'll run into her. A girl in the same situation will be less likely to plan out her route. By age 15, however, the difference disappears as boys develop bigger dreams and girls learn to be more proactive.

Raising a Goal-Getter

To be hopeful, Dr. Snyder says, a child needs three things: goals, willpower, and waypower. A goal can be as immediate as the bright toy on a shelf that a young child wants to reach or as far off as "I want to be a scientist or an astronaut when I grow up."

Willpower is the energy to pursue those goals. It's easier to call up willpower when a goal is clear in your mind. So part of being hopeful is learning to articulate your goals.

Waypower is the sense that you can find ways to reach your goals, even when you hit obstacles or unexpected hurdles. To gain waypower, a child needs to learn that there's more than one right answer, more than one way to solve a problem.

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