Children and Hope
Gifts for Today and Tomorrow
A standard IQ test includes a "picture arrangement" task. When the picture cards are assembled correctly, they tell a story with a logical progression. The child is timed as he or she attempts to rearrange the cards in the proper order. There is one set of cards that begins negatively with a boy stuck on one side of a ravine. It ends positively when he discovers a nearby plank that can be used to build a bridge to the other side. Interestingly, children who have been diagnosed as more hopeful finish this task in significantly less time. In a sense, they can more quickly envision how to turn a bad situation into a good one.
Children represent the future. They embody change, possibility and growth, thus symbolizing the hopes of all humanity. This chapter helps readers to better understand ways in which children of various ages express hope and hopelessness. We also expose the myth of a "protected childhood", the false belief that children are never depressed or hopeless. Using case examples and research findings, we identify signs of hopelessness in children and adolescents and offer ways of helping them to overcome their sense of despair. Our hope-based interventions include parenting and coaching suggestions as well as therapeutic games, hope inspiring books and videos.
Related issues covered in our book
Hope Tip #17: Hope Videos for Kids
In Hope in the Age of Anxiety we present a variety of strategies of restoring hope in children. For example, you will find the results of a research study we conducted to establish a ranking of the ten most hopeful children's videos. We did this by rating the attachment, mastery, and survival content present in the most popular children's films. A perfect example of a hope classic is The Wizard of OZ. Do you remember who led the journey to find the Wizard? IT WAS A CHILD (Dorothy, the hope symbol). Do you remember what the lion, scarecrow, and tin man were looking for?
So the next time you go a video store with your child or teenager, think about the likely hope content of your selection. Are there lessons in attachment, mastery or survival in the film you are considering? As you think about your son, daughter, younger siblings or students, ask yourself which of the hope motives is (are) in need of stimulation.