The Optimistic Child: A Proven Program to Safeguard Children Against Depression and Build Lifelong Resilience

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HarperCollins, Sep 17, 2007 - Family & Relationships - 352 pages
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New York Times bestselling author Martin E. P. Seligman's The Optimistic Child is "the first major work to provide an effective program for preventing depression in childhood — and probably later in life" (Aaron T. Beck, author of Love is Never Enough).

The epidemic of depression in America strikes 30% of all children. Now Martin E. P. Seligman, the bestselling author of Learned Optimism, and his colleagues offer parents and educators a program clinically proven to cut that risk in half. With this startling research, parents can teach children to apply optimism skills that can curb depression, boost school performance, and improve physical health. These skills provide children with the resilience they need to approach the teenage years and adulthood with confidence.

For more than thirty years the self-esteem movement has infiltrated American homes and classrooms with the credo that supplying positive feedback, regardless of the quality of performance, will make children feel better about themselves. But in this era of raising our children to feel good, the hard truth is that they have never been more depressed.

As Dr. Seligman writes in this provocative new book, "Teaching optimism is more than, I realized, than just correcting pessimism...It is the creation of a positive strength, a sunny but solid future-mindedness that can be deployed throughout life — not only to fight depression and come back from failure, but also to be the foundation of success and vitality."

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ErikaHope - LibraryThing

This book is fascinating. Yes, I'm reading it for my son, but generally speaking it discusses how feeling that you have some power over your situation, can alter things, can overcome things, mixed ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Sandra305 - LibraryThing

I liked the sound principles discussed and demonstrated in this book, and I was relieved to see that we are moving away from the Self-Esteem Movement where individuals were praised regardless of their ... Read full review


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Page 50 - I believe man can be elevated ; man can become more and more endowed with divinity ; and as he does he becomes more God-like in his character and capable of governing himself. Let us go on elevating our people, perfecting our institutions, until democracy shall reach such a point of perfection that we can exclaim with truth that the voice of the people is the voice of God.
Page 34 - Appreciating my own worth and importance and having the character to be accountable for myself and to act responsibly towards others.
Page 33 - More specifically, self-esteem is: 1. confidence in our ability to think, confidence in our ability to cope with the basic challenges of life; and 2. confidence in our right to be successful and happy, the feeling of being worthy, deserving, entitled to assert our needs and wants, achieve our values, and enjoy the fruits of our efforts.
Page 7 - We want more for our children than healthy bodies. We want our children to have lives filled with friendship and love and high deeds. We want them to be eager to learn and be willing to confront challenges . . . We want them to grow up with confidence in the future, a love of adventure, a sense of justice, and courage enough to act on that sense of justice. We want them to be resilient in the face of the setbacks and failures that growing up always brings...
Page 28 - Armies of American teachers, along with American parents, are straining to bolster children's self-esteem. That sounds innocuous enough, but the way they do it often erodes children's sense of worth. By emphasizing how a child feels, at the expense of what the child does — mastery, persistence, overcoming frustration and boredom, and meeting challenge — parents and teachers are making this generation of children more vulnerable to depression.
Page 324 - Reivich, KJ (1999). Prevention of depressive symptoms in school children: A research update. Psychological Science, 10, 461462.
Page 84 - Orvaschell, working through the Center for Epidemiological Studies of the National Institute of Mental Health. It is called the Center for Epidemiological Studies...
Page 44 - Flow occurs when your skills are used to their utmost — matched against a challenge just barely within your grasp. Too little challenge produces boredom. Too much challenge or too little skill produces helplessness and depression. Flow cannot be achieved without frustration. Success after success, unbroken by failure, regrouping, and trying again will not produce flow. Rewards alone, high selfesteem, confidence, and ebullience do not produce flow.

About the author (2007)

MARTIN E. P. SELIGMAN, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the New York Times bestselling author of several books, including Learned Optimism, Authentic Happiness, and The Hope Circuit. He is past president of the American Psychological Association as well as the division of clinical psychology of the American Psychological Association, and former director of clinical training in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.

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