Jon Cox's Reviews > The Optimistic Child

The Optimistic Child by Martin E.P. Seligman
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May 09, 11

bookshelves: non-fiction
Read in April, 2011

I must admit, the message is very convincing to me, and the amount of research summarized is impressive. Seligman is the genius who came up with the concept of Learned Helplessness, and then turned it around and looked at Learned Optimism. I think every parent would do well to read this book and learn from it.

Having said that, the book itself could have used a little bit of editor's crafting. The writing was fine, but the introduction and review of the research lasts way too long. I found myself wanting him to get to the application much sooner. Also, once in the application, he advocated a bunch of exercises that were a bit too structured. I just don't think that the majority of parents are going to implement them. It seemed like he just took the material straight from his group therapy modules and stuck it in the book without considering how parents would actually feel about doing them.

Additionally, there were only two actual skills that he presented to create learned optimism: decatastrophizing and looking for alternative explanations. I'm not convinced that those two skills alone (even with the meager social skills he presented afterward) are enough to create learned optimism. But I could be wrong. He's more of a psychologist than I am.

My conclusions: the message and priciples of the book are very interesting and useful, the exercises may be a bit much, but give it a try, it can't hurt and it may really help your kids.

If nothing else, stop calling your kids names and telling them that they are to blame for everything.
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message 1: by Anne (new)

Anne It will be fun to soon try these ideas, Jon. Thanks for the great book review. I will try to read it. Do you have it?
Love, Mom


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