The Optimistic Child


The Optimistic Child: A Proven Program to Safeguard Children Against Depression and Build Lifelong Resilience Paperback – September 17, 2007  by Martin E. P. Seligman (Author)

The epidemic of depression in America strikes 30% of all children. Now Martin E. P. Seligman, the best-selling author of Learned Optimism, and his colleagues offer parents and educators a program clinically proven to cut that risk in half. With this startling new 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. Over the last 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, “Our children are experiencing pessimism, sadness, and passivity on

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

According to noted psychologist Seligman (Learned Optimism), 30% of American children suffer from depression. Further, his studies demonstrate that “pessimistic children are at much higher risk for becoming depressed than optimistic children.” His mission here is to teach parents and other concerned adults how to instill in children a sense of optimism and personal mastery. Seligman discounts prevalent theory that children who are encouraged by others to feel good about themselves will do well. Instead, he proposes that self-esteem comes from mastering challenges, overcoming frustration and experiencing individual achievement. In clear, concise prose peppered with anecdotes, dialogues, cartoons and exercises, Seligman offers a concrete plan of action based on techniques of self-evaluation and social interaction. He describes the development of the Penn Depression Prevention Program, in which school kids are taught ways to divest themselves of pessimistic approaches and adopt optimistic ones, and adapts it to home use by parents. While a few of the exercises may seem daunting to parents, this encouraging volume moves beyond popular self-help tomes and ideology to offer hope and practical suggestions; it will be of great value to teachers as well. First serial rights to Ladies’ Home Journal and Parents magazine; author tour.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to the Audio CD edition.


“In clear, concise prose peppered with anecdotes, dialogues, cartoons and exercises, Seligman offers a concrete plan of action based on techniques of self-evaluation and social interaction.” —Publishers Weekly –This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

About the Author

Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of several books, including Learned Optimism and Authentic Happiness. 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.

From The Washington Post

“Seligman’s recent research profoundly demonstrates that children can be taught techniques of optimistic thinking that, in effect, ‘depression-proofs’ them.” –This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From AudioFile

This audio-book provides useful information, as well as good examples, on how to teach optimistic thinking. However, the author lacks sufficient intonation, energy and variety of style to keep the listener engaged. E.W.S. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine –This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Product details

Why some kids make it and others don’t.

ByAmazon Customeron April 15, 2011

Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase

I serve on the board of directors for a health and human services organization that serves the needs of children, youth, and families in crisis. Moreover, I spent six and a half years in residential child care from the ages of 11-18. Throughout my life (I am now a very young 55) I have puzzled over the question of why kids given the same opportunities, within virtually the same environment experience success or failure, normalcy or dysfunction, happiness or despair, joy or hopelessness, in such varying degrees and with what seems like complete randomness. The question is as old as time and more complicated as any multivariable predictive model that one would design to determine which infants are bound for success and happiness.

My mother was convicted of child neglect when I was ten years old, this, only months after my father had died of a heart attack. Without a better alternative and my mother’s incarceration, I became a ward of the state. Today I hold an MBA and operate a successful consulting practice. My mentors were my caregivers, teachers, coaches, and fellow orphans.

This book based upon the work of Dr. Seligman holds, I believe, a very important key to success. Hope or optimism is the thing without which one does not make an effort to change their current state. By starting early in life and teaching our children, youth, and young adults how to take charge of the negative thoughts and influences there is every reason to believe that they will be empowered to take control themselves. This book is prescriptive in how to apply the lessons learned from practical research and how to make a difference in the lives of people of all ages. Easy to read and without the need for a deep understanding of psychological jargon, any parent, mentor, or influencer of young lives can apply the lessons provided here. I have recommended that the therapists, staff, and volunteers at my organization each be provided copies.

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