Training the way your child thinks is more important than the result in the moment. How often do we think of just our need in the moment, and forget the big picture of what our children need to learn in that moment? Our day to day conversations have a huge influence on how our children perceive their world which ultimately determines the way their lives turn out.
What if everything we experience is the result of our thinking? Then we would realise how important it is for us to train our children’s thinking. How many of your thoughts are you consciously aware of? Stop at moments in your day and become aware of what you are thinking. Our thoughts develop patterns of focus that we are often not consciously aware of. Have you noticed how some people always focus on what is wrong in any situation and some people can only see the good in everything? Both of these scenarios impact their happiness. Generally, the ones that focus on the negative, would they be more or less happy in their lives? The way we think about our lives determines how happy we are, so why not just change the way we think? That can take practise and effort to change because we have developed our thinking patterns already, but our children only have a few years of thinking habits.
Thinking Habits that Empower our Children
1. Train their Habit of Self-talk
When situations happen (they don’t do well in a test, their friends are mean to them, they do well at sport) what do your children say to themselves? Do they internalize it? Do they make themselves wrong? Do they take responsibility regardless? Do they blame themselves or others?
The way to train healthy self-talk is to disassociate situations and achievement from who they are. (you are a person and this happened, you are a person and this is how it feels) This creates a distance from which they can look at the situation and then decide what they want. You want to develop a belief in them that they are okay regardless of what is happening. When they are happy or not happy with a situation we can ask them: What do you want? How can you get it? You can start this with very young children in small situations. Again the results are not as important as the setting up of how they think.
When you notice their self-talk, ask questions with curiosity, not judgement. Offer other options in the form of questions. For example I didn’t get this right so I am not good at it. Question: is it possible that you just need a bit more practise? What specifically are you struggling with (break down the situation into smaller pieces)? What do you need to do to get what you want? Questions give their brain the opportunity to look for other possibilities.
Habit: If I don’t like this, what can I do? Take action
2. Train their Habit of Perception
In any one situation, there is always more than one meaning. Train them to believe that whatever happens they get to choose how to respond or think about it. What option would be best for them? Sometimes if they are upset they may only see one possibility. It is our role to be present with them and offer other possibilities. Let them learn to choose empowering options where they have the opportunity to do or try something. Let them try different options and work out what is best
Habit: What else could this mean? What can I do?
3. Train their Emotional Habits
Teach them that all emotions are welcome, it is what we do with them that counts. The way to handle emotions is to acknowledge them. (I can see you are feeling…..) When the emotion feels heard it settles down, it is there as an indicator that a change is necessary. In a discipline situation we can still acknowledge the emotion but stick to our boundary. Once the emotion has settled down, ask, what does it need? What can I do? Sometime these questions can take place the next day. The goal is to meet the need of the emotion and understand the lesson, the timing is not as important. Asking questions when anyone is in their emotion rarely works.
Habit: I am feeling this, what do I need? How can I get it?
4. Train their Habit of Thinking about what They Want
So often as adults when we are asked: what do we want, how many of us are clear about that answer? We often get caught up in the daily things to do that we forget to think about what we want. If our thoughts create our lives, it is important to think about what we want because our thoughts will drive our actions to do what we need to, to create what we want. Children naturally think about what they want, do we suppress that? Thinking they will develop a sense of entitlement. Do we automatically assume then that it is our responsibility to supply it? Instead of suppressing it, why not develop responsibility on their part and ask the question, how could you get it? We can start this at a very young age, again the result is not as important as the pattern of thinking you are developing. This process can also develop their creativity and grit. Encourage them to try different ways until they achieve what they want.
Habit: I have the power to create whatever I want, it is up to us to take action
Each time you intercept your children’s thinking and ask questions you are training their thought patterns. Empowering your children with an effective way of thinking sets them up for life
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