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96 of 97 people found the following review helpful
on August 16, 2001
I don't disagree entirely with the one-star reviewer--optimism is hardly the answer to all of society's problems. However, as the parent of a son who often shows signs of inheriting ... depression ..., I found this book to be a proactive alternative to the little lectures on over-reacting to situations that I had been giving! I explain the steps Seligman suggests as games we play to prepare him for middle school and they get him thinking about the control he can exert in his own perceptions (this is a skill often not acquired until late adolescence, if ever). Finally, some support for at-risk kids! I only wish more parents were aware of the influence their behavior wields--this book helps both parent and child increase self-understanding. Other books on childhood depression depend too heavily on explaining available medication--THANK YOU, Mr. Seligman, for offering concrete advice on drug-free depression-prevention.
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101 of 103 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2003
I'm an Emotional Intelligence coach. I work with adults teaching them EQ competencies, including optimism, and I've seen it work wonders! Since reading this book, I've been teaching it to children with the same results. It's particularly important in children with high IQs. Their propensity to perceive more deeply, and their perfectionism made them set-up for depression. They can get into trouble with their thinking (can't we all!). Seligman's theory works, if you take the time to understand it and follow his instructions. The essence of optimism is not the upward cycle, but being able to avoid the downward spiral when a disappointment, loss or failure occurs. It's a way of thinking that can be changed. Would you like to live 19% longer, enjoy better health, be more likely to fulfill your potential ... all this backed by Seligman's years of research ... and wouldn't you want this for your child?
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60 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2010
I am a 6th grade counselor in a private school. After reading this book I used it to prepare a workshop and to help several families abandon child management systems that were highly stressful and unproductive. The workshop got very high ratings and requests for follow ups. Several families reported a significant improvement in their quality of life following interventions based on Dr. Seligman's ideas.

I believe that Dr. Seligman has good intentions when he applies this book to depression but that this emphasis limits the book's potential. It has much broader value and can help almost any family improve the middle school and teen years experience. I am looking forward to helping many more members of our community with the use of this tool.

If you are having difficulty with the 11 to 15 year old developmental process or you just simply want to look at some really good ideas this is a book for you. It is an easy read and well detailed. Enjoy!
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on December 10, 2003
The basic premise of this book is that optimisim is not only a tendency which some are born with, but also a learned skill that even those who are naturally pessimistic in nature can master. It is theorized that by teaching children this skill they will be better able to avoid being overcome by depression,as both children and the adults they grow into. The author is one who was an early proponent of cognitive therapy, which is a behavior modification type program for re-training the pessimistic brain of those who are depressed, and which has had remarkable, positive results. In this book those same techniques are described to parents as PREVENTATIVE life skills and habits to be developed in order to safeguard children from ever even becoming depressed. As the former spouse of a clinically depressed man who has sucessfully managed his depression through cognitive therapy, I am a believer in this process. If severly depressed people can be taught a functional optimism which effectively treats depression, then teaching these same positive functional habits of optimism in children as a prevetative measure makes alot of sense. I picked up this book in the hope of teaching our children these life skills. I was impressed by the functional "HOW TO" type exercises to use with children of all ages. This book is written in a easy to understand manner which is not overly innundated with technical jargon. Of course, my review is from the vantage point of an optimist herself who would like to believe I can help prepare my children to face life in a healthy manner through parenting. I am putting a lot of faith in the power of nurture over nature- and many will debate that. Nonetheless, having heard the depressed who has lived through the worst of depression to extol the virtue of cognitive therapy as nothing less than life saving, I think that even a pessimist would be a believer in the power of optimism once he or she learns this incredible secret-- that like most things, optimism can indeed be learned, and that it is one of the most important things one can learn to be healthy and happy. This book truly is a great tool in teaching that skill.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2000
'Want to give your children a gift that will be precious to them for a lifetime? Give the gift of optimism.
Although I first read the book two years ago, it has left an impression on my parenting and I sometimes refer back to it. Seligman's research-based approach to instilling optimism and confidence is both inspiring and relatively easy to implement. While the book focuses on older children who are already proficient in dealing with abstract concepts, I found the book useful as a parent of very young children: some concepts could be applied to my parenting surprisingly early, and all could be applied to my personal outlook to enhance my own optimism and mental health (and to help me model optimism for my children). I hope every parent reads this book!
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2002
Prof. Seligman is one of the Deans of American psychotherapy and a founder of the cognitive-behavioral method of psychotherapy. His interest in kids is obvious--as well as is his experience.
The theory revolves around several basic concepts. At its most basic, What you think and what you do equals how you feel. Prof. Seligman's method is designed to help children not draw inaccurate inferences (cognitions) from events and behavior (for example, "I'm a jerk" if someone does not play with you.) He correctly notes that optimism and hopefulness are just as learned as is depression. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, and drugs (psychopharmacology therapy) are the two main treatment modes with demonstrated positive results.
The method itself is quite simple and is very useful to children, families, parents, and adults who work with children. I have given this book to parents and coaches. However, the writing itself is more complicated than the theory--I suppose a Dean of psychotherapy is entitled--so readers will have to work at extracting Seligman's nuggets. It's worth the time, no doubt.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2002
Seligman did it again! In this book, the author first explains what optimism really is and what is not. It is not perceiving a glass as half full instead of half empty and it is not an attitude of "Every day things get better and better", it is instead a matter of cricitally evaluating one's look at the world. It consists of questioning basic assumptions, looking for evidence for and against beliefs, looking for alternatives and thus reaching a more accurate view of things.
Seligman's advice is firmly rooted in sound research findings, both about his teaching children the art of optimism and also about the proven beneficial effects of cognitive therapy.
Though I agree with one reviewer that optimism is not always beneficial (especially if it is a kind of super-optimism), the research findings of Seligman and also of other therapists (e.g. Wilde) strongly point to the fact that using the principles given in this book will surely buffer your child against the inevitable setbacks of life.
One of the best parenting books! As a supplement I also heartily recommend the book from John Gottman: "The heart of parenting"
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51 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2002
Dr. Seligman's book is just right if your child and both parents are temperamentally optimists. In that case, this book is wonderful and I recommend it to you. But if the child or one or both of the parents have a more pessimism-prone personality temperament, it is advisable to add understanding of new research on the cognitive strategy called 'constructive pessimism' which deals with individual differences in the normal range of personality temperaments of optimism -- pessimism. Psychologist Ed Chang edited the new book on that, Optimism and Pessimism. So add Chang to Seligman for balance, and if you need more then look at books by Elaine Aron. That's my advice for completeness -- children and adults really do display a fascinating and sometimes challenging range of personality temperaments. And when it comes to making the most of life, No one size fits all.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on February 21, 2000
This book gave a lot of insite into optimism and signs of childhood depression. It was a valuable tool during my Master's internship. The school counselor I worked with had concerns about a child and the book offered us some strategies to try that were helpful. The inventories were helpful in looking at the child's emotional state. I feel that if any parent had reservations over the emotional state of their child, this would be a beneficial resource.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on September 12, 2009
I got this book on a bit of a bad parenting day and really, really like it. I'm not really sure which of my kids fit in the "spirited" category but I don't think it really matters, because the information is really interesting and applicable to all family relationships. And, I like how the author talks about not trying to change your kids and how they are, but how to help them learn coping skills to adapt how they are to how the world is and the situations they will encounter (e.g. daughter freaking out in every new situation). The author's tone is so collaborative and "we can do it" as opposed to many parenting books that feel very preachy and "you need to do X and Y".

I'm about 1/3 of the way through it and have dog-eared about 40 pages. :)
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