Where negative statements can be accepted as true in our children’s mind, so too can positive statements. We call these Affirmations, and they can be used to counteract and overcome a negative, unhelpful belief, or reaffirm something wanted, bringing about positive thoughts and feelings. They’re positive statements said as if they are already true.
As adults we may feel a bit silly saying them at first, but children are less self-conscious. They’ll find affirmations a fun way to program their minds and to plant and grow positive suggestions in their subconscious. But what’s really great is if they can accept these positive suggestions while young, then there will be less reprogramming to be done as they get older.
To encourage this habit, they need to think of a positive statement in the present tense that they can relate to. The language needs to be simple, using words they would use in everyday speech and that’s appropriate for their understanding. If too complex, they’ll be less likely to understand or take the statements on board. It’s better they choose their own affirmations they feel comfortable with saying, these can be written if the child is old enough, to compliment and reinforce the verbal affirmation but are best said aloud repeatedly. They need to be short, simple, positive, uplifting, motivating, and believable. Such as; ‘I am now learning more and more every day.’ Repetition is key to affirmations and the more they practise using positive affirmations, the easier they get and the better they start to feel about themselves and their capabilities.
This probably won’t surprise you to know, but while children are speaking and thinking positively about themselves, it’s impossible for them to think negatively, and then fear, worry, anxiety, anger, and frustration disappear. This is useful if they are struggling in some area, such as learning how to read, instead of listening to their self-defeating mental chatter, they can replace it with positive self-talk and could say; ‘I enjoy learning how to read, reading is fun, and I am now finding it easier and easier to read.’
We can clearly understand how this approach is more helpful than what children usually say such as;
‘I can’t read, I hate reading, it’s hard.’ Convincing themselves with their own words that they cannot read, not realising that they are the ones holding themselves back. Children confuse lack of experience and confidence in something, such as reading, as a lack of ability, and believe they do not, cannot, and will never be able to do it. Any mistakes they encounter only reinforce this, knocking their confidence further, we can minimise the risk of this happening by introducing our children to affirmations.
I like the affirmation bowl. Write out some affirmations on some post it notes and mix them up in a bowl and ask your child to pick one each morning and evening before bed. Then notice how their behaviour and language becomes more positive and how their self- esteem and confidence improves.
Happy St David’s Day or as we call him in Wales -Dewi Sant, the patron saint of Wales.
His monks spent their evenings in prayers, reading and writing, which sounds like absolute heaven to me. As he taught his followers to refrain from eating meat, today, I have decided to cook the children my favourite leek and potato soup, and of course leeks are his symbol and our symbol of Wales.
CAWL – LEEK AND POTATO SOUP
Peel and dice about 8 medium small potatoes
Melt a knob of butter in a large pan
Wash and chop up about 8 baby tender leeks or 3-4 large ones
Chop an onion
Add onion, leek and potatoes to the melted butter and cook for a few minutes until soft (not brown)
Add 850 ml of vegetable stock and bring to the boil then put a lid on and simmer on a low heat for 25 minutes.
Add a good grounding of black pepper to season.
Take off the heat and then blend. I like a simple hand blending stick or if you’re making under 4 portions you can use a soup maker with slightly less ingredients.
Enjoy with a crusty whole meal baguette or bread roll.
Leeks are also a tasty super vegetable that give us vitamins- C, A, B complex, and minerals- potassium, calcium and phosphorus, providing lots of health benefits such as- cell function, energy and healthy bones. The super starch white potato also offers- B6, B12, C, Folate, Niacin, Riboflavin, and Thiamine vitamins. As well as minerals – magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and iron, good for electrolyte balance, cell and collagen production, bone health and heart function.
MY LITTLE WELSH GIRL
When my daughter was young, she loved helping me to make cawl (soup) and dressing up on St David’s Day. She had a Traditional Welsh Girl outfit. It had a lovely black bonnet with white ribbon that she loved.
She loved it so much so that, she kept nagging me to let her wear it to bed at night.
Of course, this would end up in a huge argument, as I tried to convince her to take it off and put her pyjama’s on!
Then one night, after much debate, I decided to use a little reverse psychology and agreed to let her wear it to bed.
After about ten minutes, she came running out of her bedroom.
Asking me to take it off her and put her pyjamas on, as it was so itchy and uncomfortable.
Job done, I’d given in and won!
When we allow our children to make their own choices, they lack resistance. And when given the option, they usually choose not to do the things, they thought they originally wanted to do.
They must feel free to make the choice though. It’s important that they feel that we have no resistance or strong preference what they do, either way.
They then realize they no longer need to fight against us, as there is nothing to fight about.
When there’s no resistance, everyone wins.
But if we always say ‘No!’
Or we get confrontational, our children will persist and inevitably someone will lose.
Choosing our battles wisely, enables us to identify the times when it’s ok to let them have their own way.
Choose Your Battles Wisely
Our children have a reason behind how they behave. They just can’t always articulate or understand it.
That’s why it’s best to choose our battles wisely.
If we follow the footprints in the snow, we’ll usually find the Gruffalo, but often discover there’s a different story at play.
We need to get a clear perspective of the situation first, by staying Present and Proactive.
This will help us to find out the reasons behind our childrens behaviour, rather than focusing on the behaviour itself.
Then when we discover the source of their behaviour, we’ll know how best to coach them in another direction, or when not to get involved.
You can find out more about coaching your children’s behaviour in my audio book, The Powerful Proactive Parents Guide to Present Parenting, link below.
What negative beliefs to you believe about yourself?
Self-limiting beliefs stack up, and children are constantly adding to them over the course of their lives as they discover more and more things they can’t do.
If not overcome, self-limiting beliefs can become the enemy to success and happiness. Especially potent are those beliefs created by authority figures such as from parents and teachers.
If a child is told that they ‘Will never be any good at_____’ fill in the blank with a subject, these negative comments stick in their subconscious mind. They then believe them to be true, even if years later they have proved them to be wrong. Often, they will look for ways to prove those authority figures right, albeit subconsciously. Then, when their negative self-beliefs and attitude inevitably causes them to fail, they’ll think ‘Well, the teacher did say I would never be any good at it, and look—they were right!’
We need to challenge our children’s self-limiting beliefs and find out where they came from and whether or not the source was correct or reliable?
Seeking to prove them wrong, rather than right, and reinforcing the things that our children are good at and can do. There will always be things they find challenging, but they shouldn’t avoid them or believe they are unachievable, nothing is impossible with the right support and encouragement.
Children under seven are very impressionable, they particularly take in things that upset them or stand out as most significant, especially traumatic events. They then sort and store these experiences in their subconscious mind for future reference, which then becomes available to assist them in the future.
This is helpful if the information is right or is intended to keep them safe in some way, but sometimes it can be wrong, misguided, and outdated. Information received while young is based on a young child’s perspective and may not be appropriate to them as they get older. Even when they have grown up and outgrown it, they may still be acting, thinking, or feeling based on those past experiences.
‘Self-limiting beliefs stack up, and children are constantly adding to them over the course of their lives as they discover more and more things they can’t do.’
This causes them to create fears and restrictions on themselves, and if others impose limiting expectations upon them, they add to a child’s own self-limiting beliefs, especially if they believe them or they remember situations or comments that reinforce them.
Fortunately, with the right encouragement, support, and belief, children can combat and overcome these self-limiting beliefs.
Children believe others over themselves most of the time, so, if they have fallen off a bike many times, their mind will tell them ‘You can’t ride a bike.’
But if we can convince them that they can. With some patience, persistence, and practice, they’ll believe us and start practicing until they eventually learn how to ride that bike. Because we have said and believe they can, they start to believe it themselves.
As Proactive Parents, we need to show them that their limiting beliefs are inaccurate and find evidence to support why they can do something that they believe they can’t.
If they say they are no good at sport, we can remind them of an occasion when they were, such as when they came first in the egg and spoon race. Our job is to question their beliefs and point out how vague they are being, by asking them in a confused tone;
‘Sport? … What sport in particular are you no good at?
And; ‘What do you mean by no good exactly?’ This will make them think less generally.
If they reply; ‘I mean I’m no good at rugby.’
We could say; ‘Well that’s not all sport, that’s just one activity, but why do you think you are no good at rugby anyway?’
They might reply with; ‘I didn’t score a try last week.’
We could then ask; ‘Did everyone else score one?’
They may respond; ‘No only two people scored a try.’
We could continue; ‘So are none of the others any good at rugby also?’
To which they would have to honestly reply; ‘No some are good.’
Regardless of talent, ability, qualifications, experience, money, or even if they follow ‘The Seven Steps to Success’ which we will reveal in later blog posts, none will make a difference without our children having Self-belief.
If they don’t believe that they can do something, then they won’t be able to do it, even if we are really encouraging and believe in them. Their self-belief influences everything, including their performance throughout school and academic potential.
These self-beliefs often lead to success in areas they feel confident and believe they can do well in, but in those they don’t, they’ll likely avoid or not do so well in.
There will be a variety of subjects in school, some they will not always enjoy, but they will be more likely to persist if they believe they can achieve good results in them, and we can help them build their self-belief by;
Believing in their capabilities — If we do, then they will.
Giving them responsibilities — Showing them that we believe and trust in them when it comes to important matters and giving them responsibilities makes them more responsible.
Helping them — If they are struggling in any subject at school, or any other area of their lives for that matter, mentally, physically, spiritually, or emotionally, we can help them overcome these obstacles and succeed by getting them the help, support, and resources they lack or need.
Encouraging them to be proactive — Taking action will give them the confidence to believe that they can achieve anything, even if they fail. It’s the fear of not being able to do a thing that stops them from believing they can. They have to gain confidence through achievement, and self-belief through doing and proving to themselves they can.
Complimenting them — Pointing out their efforts as much as their achievements and being specific. A general ‘Well done’ is not enough, we need to elaborate. Well done for what exactly? To replicate their success, they need to know exactly what it was they did so well in order for them to apply that to something else in the future.
Not over doing it — If we are too general or praise them when it’s not due, then they will not believe our praise to be genuine. Our children’s self-belief comes from the support and encouragement of others, including ourselves, but words of encouragement or trying to boost their ego with praise alone, will not work. They have to believe and feel good about themselves for genuine reasons. No matter how many times we tell them they are the best at something if they know they aren’t, they won’t be fooled. And the more they perceive us to be lying about what they think they can do, the less likely they will be to accept our genuine praise or compliments.
No matter how much praise we give or belief we have in our children, it’s what they believe and achieve, and whether it’s important to them or not, that counts, which is down to their own self-image. We’ll look at self-image in later blog posts too but over the last two weeks I’ve noticed the emails I’ve received from parents have revolved around sibling rivalry and arguments, especially during half term school holidays, so next week we’ll address The Art of Intervention.