Harnessing Hope

Hope is the belief or feeling that something positive will happen. It is a positive, exciting sense of what is possible. In the day to day challenges that we face, it can be hard to hold onto hope, and hope can give us the energy to persevere and can offer a sense of purpose, calm and connection. Parents are children’s first hope builders. Your presence, connection, and attitude can help your child be more hopeful. Try some of these ideas to bring hope into your regular family practice.

  • Name hope. Share examples of when you feel hopeful about something. Encourage your child to do the same. Notice how the positive energy of hope impacts the situation. What you have hope for may or may not turn out to be true, but the awareness and sense of hope is powerful.
  • Allow disappointment. When your child feels disappointed, listen without judgment. Because you are connected with your child this is not comfortable. Your job is to let your child feel disappointed and then gently ask curiosity questions. What happened? How did it happen? What do you plan to do now?
  • Avoid rescuing children. If they bump up against an obstacle, let them you know that you have faith that they can figure it out – you can coach them or give them ideas. Encourage them to work it out, rather than fixing it for them.  
  • See their strengths. Of course, you want your children to be the best they can be, but often that results in noticing what is wrong, more than what is right. Spend some time thinking about who your child is. What are their strengths? What do you appreciate about them? Think about how their strengths will help them be adults that make the world a better place.
  • Talk about the future. As new opportunities come up, discuss the possible outcomes. It is okay to be unsure, but find things that you feel hopeful about the situation. Starting a new job, the first day of school, having a new neighbor move in, learning a game all have the possibility of being challenging, and can provide opportunity to be hopeful about change.
  • Model. As with most things, your children are watching you and learning how to live from your example. What helps you be hopeful? What helps you stay connected to your humanity? Think about how your children hear and see you live your life.
  • Read, read, read. Books can be a wonderful resource for helping children build hope. There are lots of children’s stories about finding joy and connection on the other side of adversity.