Give your children their best gift this holiday season: the ability to form empowering thoughts, which will serve them for the rest of their lives.
It’s December and the mere mention of a things to do list makes most people break into a cold sweat.
It’s not like you get to put all of the things you normally do on hold and just focus on all the holiday tasks. It’s all happening at the same time and many of us promise ourselves year after year that we aren’t going to get all stressed out.
But here we are again.
Hurried, stressed and wondering how we are ever going to get everything done.
But there’s something else that may be going on that could very easily slip right by us in all our hurry and stress.
It’s their stress and burnout too.
This time of year, more than other times of the year, tends to create a great deal of stress and even burnout for our kids.
It can sneak in so far under the radar that many parents can miss it.
In an article, The 4 Primary Causes of Kids’ Stress and Burnout, Aileen Santos notes four major causes of stress for kids.
1. Your child is not ready for school
2. Your child is unhappy in his present school
3. Your child has developed negative thinking
4. Your child needs to develop new study habits.
As an educator for the past 30 years, I can personally attest to the stressors associated with your child’s school experience that Santos lists.
Those pressures and stressors are very real.
Issues like drama with friends, increased academic standards/requirements, peer pressure and competing time demands can all make for one stressed out little kid.
But I’d like to focus on stressor number three in Santos’ list.
Your child has developed negative thinking.
In my book, Raising Kids That Succeed, I spend a lot of time on the topic of helping parents realize the problem is not our kids, it’s us.
It’s so easy to turn to outside circumstances and blame everything we can on what’s happening with our kids.
But as parents, we hold a tremendous amount of influence in the lives of our kids, and we simply have to take responsibility for how we manage and leverage that influence.
When we send our kids out into the world every day, they are bombarded with every kind of stimulus imaginable from other kids, adults, the media and certainly from games and entertainment.
Kids are sponges, processing, interpreting and trying to make sense of all of the varied stimuli that comes into their mind.
Our kids have to process it all through whatever filter they have been given.
And whether we want to admit it or accept it, the time they spend with us as their parents, creates the patterns and the mold for how they learn to interpret and make sense of the world.
The very good news is that you, as a parent, are completely in the driver’s seat.
In Raising Kids That Succeed, I describe a process you can use to discover your child’s negative thinking habits and how you can learn to take immediate and intentional action to steer them in a more positive direction.
Of course, one of the most important things to do as a parent is to first be aware of your own negative thinking habits and to address them for your own benefit.
As you engage in that process for your own personal growth, it’s like having an insurance policy against passing your own negative thought patterns along to your kids.
A helpful process includes:
Exploring and Discovering Parent Limiting and Negative Beliefs
Changing Parent Limiting and Negative Beliefs to Empowering Beliefs
Exploring and Discovering Child Limiting and Negative Beliefs
Changing Child Limiting and Negative Beliefs to Empowering Beliefs
Encouraging and Supporting Child Empowering Beliefs Leads to Thinking Their Way to Lifelong Successful Habits
But how does a parent gain an awareness of their child’s limiting and negative beliefs?
That’s an extremely important question.
There is a variety of ways that a parent can gain an awareness of their child’s limiting beliefs.
Listening to what your child says about themselves is one of the very best ways to begin gaining an awareness of the limiting beliefs, which have already begun in your child’s thinking.
Begin to pay close attention each time your child makes statements that limit themselves in having success in any kind of situation.
For example, have you ever heard your child say, “I’m not good at math” or how about, “I’m not good at sports”? Have they told you, “No one wants to be my friend,” or even, “Everyone is picking on me”?
As the phases of development and growth occur in a child, a parent will begin to see different kinds of limiting and negative belief statements coming from them.
In the early years, we don’t hear our children saying very many limiting things about themselves. For example, when our toddlers are learning to walk, we see them try again and again to pull themselves up to stand for a few seconds and then fall.
Even if they’re not able to speak yet, you don’t see negative facial expressions or see them stop trying. Instead, they have a belief system that tells them, I didn’t make it that time, but I’m going to try again!
And they do.
They try again and again until they are finally successful.
After that, the rest is history.
There are many other examples you will see as you go through watching your children grow and develop.
As you become more observant, it will become obvious to you that the longer a child is out in the world interacting at school with friends or in organized play or athletics, the more their limiting beliefs begin to grow.
Listen to what they say about themselves. Then listen to what they say about others.
A great exercise for a parent is to begin listening for and writing down the limiting beliefs you hear your child speak.
Even if you’re not big on journaling, just take down some private notes for yourself in your smart phone or find a different way that works for you.
Chances are that you will be amazed at the list you compile over a short period of time.
The younger the child, the more important it is to catch the statements as they actually occur, so you can help your child change the limiting or negative belief into an empowering belief.
For example, if your child says, “No one in my class likes me,” you can take this as a teachable moment and respond, “I know it might seem like no one in your class likes you, but I’ll bet you can think of some friends in your class who have done things to show how they do like you. Tell me about those friends and what they did.”
From there, you can lead your child to restate their original negative statement into something more realistic and empowering like, “Although I am not close friends with every person in my class, I have many friends in my class who like me.”
So during this holiday season, when we all tend to get even more stressed than usual, take advantage of a powerful opportunity to give your kids one of the best gifts a parent can give.
The gift of new empowering ways to think that will serve them for their lives.
And don’t forget…you cannot give what you do not have.
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