Too many children and adults learn chronic fear via societal obsessions with how the worst could happen. Don’t let your own kids fall victim to this mindset.
Fear of personal inadequacy is as pervasive—and as dangerous—as fear of catastrophe from outside. Don’t be a “fixed mindset” parent to whom straight A’s and blue ribbons are everything. Be a “growth mindset” parent who encourages kids to learn through challenges and to always be stretching themselves to become better people. And emphasize that however “successful” they may be in standard terms, their true potential is fulfilled by using their skills to foster growth of the whole human community.
Closely tied to the “challenge and overall attitude, not straight ‘achievement’” emphasis is the one that says, “You are more powerful, you have more influence, than you imagine. No matter how many obstacles you bump into, you can always pick yourself up and attack them again, or pick yourself up and find a better route.” Don’t feed your kids effusive compliments for minimal effort, and don’t always rush to “rescue” them; let them experience the rewards of hard-won success.
Focusing on how bleak the future looks only discourages people from exercising power to change anything. Where would society be if the founders of modern medicine, or the pioneers of civil rights, had caved to “that’s just the way things are” cynicism? Even small children can increase the world’s supply of kindness and helpfulness through little actions. Families can volunteer as a unit for bigger projects. Emphasize what you can do, not what you (think you) can’t.
While some “religious types” do let their lives revolve around fear of hell or the supposed imminent end of the world, those who believe God is in ultimate control and cares about them as individuals have additional reason to live in confidence rather than terror. Introduce your kids to prayer, spiritual reading, and regular group worship with a warm and welcoming congregation—and practice all these yourself.
No matter how much you verbally emphasize optimism, personal empowerment, hope, and faith—your kids will be dubious if you live as a fearful person yourself. If you’re dissatisfied with your own example: