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The Optimistic Child: A Proven Program to Safeguard Children Against Depression and Build Lifelong Resilience [Kindle Edition]

Martin E. P. Seligman
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In The Optimistic Child, Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman offers parents, teachers, and coaches a well-validated program to prevent depression in children. In a thirty-year study, Seligman and his colleagues discovered the link between pessimism -- dwelling on the most catastrophic cause of any setback -- and depression. Seligman shows adults how to teach children the skills of optimism that can help them combat depression, achieve more on the playing field and at school, and improve their physical health.

As Seligman states in his new afterword for this edition, “Teaching children optimism is more, I realized, than just correcting pessimism . . . It is the creation of a positive strength, a sunny but solid future-mindedness that can be deployed throughout life -- not only to fight depression and to come back from failure, but also to be the foundation of success and vitality.”


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

According to noted psychologist Seligman (Learned Optimism), 30% of American children suffer from depression. Further, his studies demonstrate that "pessimistic children are at much higher risk for becoming depressed than optimistic children." His mission here is to teach parents and other concerned adults how to instill in children a sense of optimism and personal mastery. Seligman discounts prevalent theory that children who are encouraged by others to feel good about themselves will do well. Instead, he proposes that self-esteem comes from mastering challenges, overcoming frustration and experiencing individual achievement. In clear, concise prose peppered with anecdotes, dialogues, cartoons and exercises, Seligman offers a concrete plan of action based on techniques of self-evaluation and social interaction. He describes the development of the Penn Depression Prevention Program, in which school kids are taught ways to divest themselves of pessimistic approaches and adopt optimistic ones, and adapts it to home use by parents. While a few of the exercises may seem daunting to parents, this encouraging volume moves beyond popular self-help tomes and ideology to offer hope and practical suggestions; it will be of great value to teachers as well. First serial rights to Ladies' Home Journal and Parents magazine; author tour.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"The first major work to provide an effective program for preventing depression in childhood--and probably later in life." -- --Aaron T. Beck, M.D., President, Beck Foundation for Cognitive Therapy

Product Details


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
84 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maybe it's Mistitled, but it's GREAT August 16, 2001
Format:Paperback
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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86 of 88 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
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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53 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Effective in helping middle school parents and children February 7, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Optimisim can be learned- one optimist's view. December 10, 2003
Format:Hardcover
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. Read more ›
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great parenting book! April 18, 2002
Format:Paperback
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read!
All parents and teachers should read this book!
Published 3 days ago by TIFFANY E DANIEL
5.0 out of 5 stars I like the book a lot and the reading is very ...
We used this book as an assistant with our text book in class. I like the book a lot and the reading is very easy to understand.
Published 1 month ago by mrsgeerich1
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very very helpful information well presented and excellent.
Published 1 month ago by Perseus
3.0 out of 5 stars Good ideas
This author had many good ideas and actionable remedies for teaching negative people how to be optimistic. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Carole
4.0 out of 5 stars Excited to read
I am excited to read and learn more about helping my children with optimism. I struggle with the style of writing, but the information is great.
Published 2 months ago by ladybug
5.0 out of 5 stars If you don't promote and protect your child's self esteem...
...who will? There are many assaults and self-inflicted wounds on a child's self-esteem in the formative years. Read more
Published 3 months ago by NYC Oracle
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent for divorce
Great book. Good scientific evidence. Easy to read. Helpful for going through a divorce. Looks at self esteem Iin a new light
Published 4 months ago by jeanie Brewer
5.0 out of 5 stars a great guide for parents with pessimistic kids
This is a good book to read and a better book to use in day-to-day conversations with your kids. So, you can use it like any other self-help book - read it, take notes, highlight,... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Doug H.
5.0 out of 5 stars To read one and another and another time
It was refreshing to read and re-read Seligman's ideas to work with children. The habilities that he proposes to develop are still and always an urgent pending job for those who... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Camila Bannen
4.0 out of 5 stars A good resource for proactive parenting
I will give the review that I have given 'The Resilience Factor '. Also I would recommend this book to all parents who wish to help their children to be resilient. Read more
Published 6 months ago by CHEONG HENG YUEN
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