Every morning I look forward to the newspaper and my homemade post-workout, piping hot cappuccino. Doing so gets me through my 5 a.m. gym workout. Ahhh. An hour to relax, regroup, and get ready to greet the world.
But I have had it. There is just too much bad news—I can’t take it anymore. How can I go forth with a smile when the sky is falling?
When my children were growing up I remember often feeling like a cheerleader. Whether I was pushing that little engine up the hill (I think you can, I think you can) when a task was daunting, or I was singing words of hope like Annie (The sun will come out tomorrow) when disappointment reigned, it was my duty to shine a flashlight in their temporarily dark world.
Among the many jobs a parent has is to teach a child to tolerate disappointment. Children are not helped by parents who shelter them from experiencing frustration and disappointment. Those children become crippled, unable to navigate the real world. As we can certainly attest, life is going to spoon out plenty of opportunities to practice such tolerance.
Parents also need to remind kids that there is always an upside—it just may not be visible to them at the moment. Children live in the here and now. Everything feels bigger, worse-er, bad-er, terrible-er, hopeless-er to the child. Without the foresight that only experience can bring, it is hard to know that the sun really will come out tomorrow. And focusing on the negative doesn’t give the child (or adult) the energy he needs to move forward. Can you picture Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh, plodding along? “Woe is me.”
The truth of the matter is, bad news sells. And no longer is it just in the morning, today’s media provides an IV of bad news all day long. It’s inescapable unless each person puts forth the effort to counteract the flow for himself. It is for this very reason that I love Thursdays when my local newspaper, The Palisadian Post, arrives—no bad news!
You can affect the happiness in your life. Articles on the topic abound. (10 Ways to Have a Happier Life, for example.) It is about making a conscious effort and taking deliberate actions. Whether you raise your mood via exercise, herbs, a belly laugh from a YouTube viewing, or just watching your child sleep (!), it has to be a purposeful act, and it works.
In order to be the cheerleader your child needs you to be, each parent needs his own antidote to the bad news of the day. Much like the “oxygen mask theory” (in the event of a loss of cabin pressure, first put the oxygen mask on yourself and then on your child), you can only take care of your child’s negative feelings after you have taken care of your own. Feelings leak, and they are contagious. Only you can make yourself happy.
What’s your bad news antidote?
Betsy Brown Braun is the bestselling author of the award-winning Just Tell Me What to Say (HarperCollins 2008), and You’re Not the Boss of Me (HarperCollins, 2010), a bestseller in its fourth printing. A renowned child development and behavior specialist, popular parent educator, and mother of adult triplets, she is a frequent speaker at educational and business conferences, has been a guest expert on Today, the Early Show, Good Morning America, Fox News, Fox and Friends, Dr. Phil, Entertainment Tonight, Rachel Ray, and NPR, and has been cited in USA Today, the New York Times, Family Circle, Parents, Parenting, Woman’s Day, Real Simple, and Good Housekeeping among countless other publications and websites.