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Community Feature

How to Promote Optimism in Kids

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Recently, RBC conducted a survey to try to better understand what challenges face youth, and perhaps more importantly, how they feel about them.
The RBC Kids Optimism Survey, the first study of its kind and size in Canada, surveyed nearly 2,400 Canadians aged 10-25 on what affects their attitudes and behaviours. The survey revealled many interesting things, including that young adults aged 18-21 experience a kind-of quarter-life crisis: compared to kids aged 10-17, youth between the ages of 18 and 21 are significantly less happy and less optimistic about their future. Just 57% of these young people feel they can achieve anything they want. 
The survey also revealled some interesting differences between boys and girls: girls are happier than boys, but boys are more excited about the future, and girls tend to smile more but also worry more than boys. 
Olympic medalist Brian Price found the results intriguing: "As parents and corporations we make assumptions about what kids are thinking, This survey says, 'Let's find out what they really think and how they are feeling.'" As a Dad to two young daughters, the results, Price says, helped him to better understand what pressures face kids today. "I want to be cognizant as a parent that I am not putting pressure on my daughters, letting them find their own path."
Growing up, Price found support in sport and he feels this can have a positive influence on youth. His advice to kids: "Be involved and be an athlete; that opens up so many different avenues. You don't train at 10 as a bobsledder, but you might be good on the track and a fast runner. You know you have a fire burning inside you. One day you get in a bobsled and you discover you can really power that thing." He is thankful though that his parents encouraged, but never pushed him in his athletic pursuits: "As parents we need to be careful not to push. Let kids participate and enjoy sports and give them the opportunities. We have my girls in a lot of different sports."
Price had some good ideas for how parents can bond with their children over sport, to build that communication channel so as they get older and face some of the worries the survey found, they can turn to their parents for support. "We as parents need to get involved. I'll get out there with my daughter, put down some pylons and practice some soccer drills. I teach my daughter's hockey team and getting out there has been fun for me." And Price shares a wonderful story of how his daughter's confidence has grown since joining hockey - so much so that she organized a team cheer and stood in front of her entire team to teach it! Sport can have that positive influence.
While the survey focused on children aged 10 and over, Price thinks it is never too early to start working with your kids. "It is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life. At the end fo the day, the kids want to be with us - doing a simple craft or reading a book. Take that 10 extra minutes each night to read a book together. This time together goes so far in building their confidence."

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