Would you like your child to be more optimistic and happier in life? Read on!


Freeing Your Child from Negative Thinking

September, 2008, Da Capo/Perseus Books

Click here to buy this book


 What is Negative Thinking? How do I help my child?


All children can fall into negative thinking, seeing the worst in a situation, underestimating their strengths and being hard on themselves, some kids fall into that hole on a regular basis and parents are perplexed at how kids who have so much going for them can see themselves in such a bad light and get so stuck. The problem for these kids isn’t that their situations are worse, but the negative brain presents them with a dire picture and as a result they feel hopeless and give up. Whether your child is a frequent flyer into negative thinking, or just an occasional visitor, this book will give you an understanding and a language to help your child right-size the adversities in his life and access his strengths to overcome them.



Red Flags


  • focuses on mistakes and flaws, can't see the good
  • expects the worst outcome in a situation
  • is overly self-critical when anything goes wrong
  • Exaggerating and extending the importance of an adverse event
  • Blaming self for something that was caused by external circumstances; blaming big for small things
  • Generalizing that whatever happened, always happens
  • Becoming easily angry with self
  • Not trying activities unless sure can excel
  • Thinking bad things always happen, good things never happen
  • Trouble tolerating mistakes, disappointment or losing
  • Shutting down in the face of any obstacle



Praise For Freeing Your Child from Negative Thinking:



Tamar Chansky, Ph.D., has done it again—written another incredibly helpful, practical book. “Freeing Your Child From Negative Thinking” offers specific strategies for parents (or any adult) to use with children and describes variations on these strategies for younger children and older adolescents. Every parent who has a pessimistic, negativistic child should read this book! As parents use the thinking and behavioral strategies that Dr. Chansky recommends, they will undoubtedly find that they themselves are becoming more optimistic and positive, not only toward their child but also more generally in their own lives. I highly recommend this wonderful book.

—Judith S. Beck, Ph.D.

Director, Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research

 Clinical Associate Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania

Past President, Academy of Cognitive Therapy

In a very skillful manner, Dr. Chansky's explains the roots of negative thinking, but most importantly, she offers specific, realistic strategies with actual dialogue that parents can use to minimize their child's negativity. Her empathy and understanding for children and parents is evident on very page of this very readable, practical book. It is a book that parents of children of all ages will read and re-read as they seek to help their children perceive themselves in a more hopeful light.

—Dr. Robert Brooks

Co-author, Raising Resilient Children and Raising a Self-Disciplined Child

Tamar Chansky gives parents a dynamic approach to helping their children escape thinking badly about themselves and their world – thoughts ranging from mild negativism to clinical depression. Her insightful and creative techniques, based on scientifically grounded cognitive behavior therapy, are on any given day, helpful not only for parents and their children, but for all of us. Next time I want to blame myself for something that went wrong, or feel terrible about something I did, I will open this book and I know I will soon feel better.


—Myrna Shure, Ph.D

Author of Raising a Thinking Child , and Thinking Parent, Thinking Child




Excerpt from Freeing Your Child from Negative Thinking: 

The Parents Role


Happiness is a given for many kids, although even for the sunniest kids, it’s still not a given all the time. For others, happiness is entirely contingent on everything’s working out exactly as expected with a single hitch. As soon as one thing goes off the track, it’s the end of the world as we know it. In the face of our children’s distress, we anguish over their suffering and the burden it creates in their life. As parents, we need to develop a two-track mind— feeling that burden, but seeing the possibilities for change.

We could keep trying to make life work for our children, make them feel better, bend over backward, walk on eggshells, and do a daily minesweep to keep all systems go. As all parents of a child with a negative bent know, there’s always that one more thing that we didn’t think of. Some children’s nose for the negative is like a bad allergy to adversity or discontent so that they notice it in the most minute detail and are thrown into a tailspin. Trying to “just be positive and hopeful” doesn’t work either. (It’s like applying paint to a poorly prepared surface: No matter how beautiful the paint, it simply won’t stick). And when your friends and relatives chide you to just be more firm and use “tough love” with your child’s “crankiness” or “spoiled” behavior, they are completely missing the point: These kids would love things to be different; they don’t want to think, feel, or act this way, they just don’t know what else to do.

The goal is not to airlift your child off the unhappy track to the happy track. Rather, it’s to work smarter, not harder—to learn the nuts and bolts of how your child’s thinking got her there in the first place, and to teach her how to be analytical and critical of that negative track so that she will choose to airlift herself to a different track, one that will lead to contentment and satisfaction.