6 Tips for Parenting a Pessimist

If you’ve got an Eeyore in your midst, fear not! Mighty Mommy shares 6 strategies for putting a more positive spin on your child’s sullen and negative ways.

Cheryl Butler
8-minute read
Episode #527

Even when I was a naive new mom 25 years ago (yikes!), I was prepared for some of the unpleasant behaviors that I knew came with the parenting territory. I fully expected to experience toddler meltdowns, whiny preschoolers, snarky tweens, and even defiant teenagers. But the one trait I never anticipated in my eight kids was negativity.

See Also: 4 Annoying Behaviors and How to Correct Them

Sure, I knew they’d all face disappointments from time to time, but given my positive outlook on life, I couldn’t fathom that any of my kids would become a negative Nellie. I was wrong. Two of my children seemed to thrive on being negative. The glass was always half-empty, there was no such thing as a silver lining, and they certainly didn’t try or want to see the world with rose colored glasses.

Optimists do better in school, work, and extracurricular activities. They also often perform better on aptitude tests, are more likely to win elections, have better overall health, and may even live longer.

The Benefits of Optimism

Whether you’re naturally an eternal optimist or a cynical humbug, there is lots of research that proves a positive approach to life can benefit your entire well-being.

Psychology Today’s article "The Mind and Body Benefits of Optimism" cites research from the Father of Psychology, Dr. Martin Seligman. His studies have shown that pessimists tend to give up more easily, feel depressed more often, and have poorer health than optimists. Optimists, on the other hand, generally do better in school, work, and extracurricular activities. They also often perform better than predicted on aptitude tests, are more likely to win elections when they run for office, have better overall health, and may even live longer. That, says Seligman, "is the incredible power of positive thinking.”

Encouraging optimism in our kids comes with numerous benefits including better mental and physical well-being, a greater sense of purpose and satisfaction, as well as a better ability to cope with the stresses of life.

Because of those factors, I’m a firm believer that even though some kids seemingly choose to be negative, with the right coaching they can turn things around and learn to find a happier approach to life.

If however, depression runs in your family, or if you suspect that your child’s outlook isn’t just negativity but something more serious, have him/her screened by a qualified child psychologist or psychiatrist.

If your child is constantly taking the “woe is me” approach like two of my children, dive in to the rose-colored world of optimism with the following tips:


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Cheryl Butler Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. You can reach her by email.