I was surprised to hear my children talking about themselves in a negative way. When my kids would say things like “I’m not a good person” or “No one likes to play with me” I knew it was an opportunity to help redirect how their feelings could be affecting their attitudes.
I pride myself on being on optimist and setting an example of focusing on abundance. My heart felt heavy seeing how my kids were susceptible to the human tendency of negativity. Naturally, I questioned “why” and have become determined to do something about it. While we all can experience the feelings that trigger negative thinking, we have the power to shift our thoughts. The earlier we learn these skills, the easier it becomes a habit.
Fortunately, I’ve had the opportunity to work in the wellness field for nearly two decades and have the insight of coaching strategies that include positive self-talk and positive psychology. While there are many aspects to these theories, the foundation is:
How we talk about ourselves is important; thus, monitoring our thoughts and making efforts to use positive language is important to our mental health and confidence
What and how we think generally is our perception, and perception is our reality
We can control and change our thoughts with time and effort
This is hard enough for adults, so how do we help kids with these skills?
Luckily, there are ample stories that highlight these themes. Parents can use these stories as reference point for kids to understand and use as teaching tools. The trick is to find stories that are most appealing, so we can capture our kids’ attention and then provide consistent and frequent messages. Examples of stories that have these themes are: Star Wars, Harry Potter, A Wrinkle in Time, and even Pete the Cat (to name a few).
I like to use Star Wars (mainly because I LOVE it), but certainly my kids like it too. It is easy to talk about using the “force” and resisting Darth Vader’s “dark side.” The conversation can go like this:
Child: “I’m not a good person”
Me: “Uh-oh, are you using the ‘force’ to learn your lesson?”
Child: “I don’t know”
Me: “Let’s try saying - ‘A different decision is talking kindly to my brother instead of yelling’ and ‘I’m still learning and I’m able to make good choices’
Child: “Okkkkkaaaaayyyyyyyy….” (then I ask them to repeat my suggestion or a similar version)
Me: “And don’t forget, YOU are strong in…”
Child: “Mind, Heart and Body.”
I try repeating that they are “Strong in Mind, Heart and Body” several times a day, especially as the last thing we say before bed. The more we say something, the more we believe it which becomes our perception and our reality.
May the force be with you.