The human mind is like a complicated road map, complete with wonderful journeys, total dead-ends and routes that are fraught with danger. Learning how to guide our internal navigators to take the path less ravelled, is no easy feat, especially for our pint-sized counterparts.
By educating our youngsters in positive thinking and mindfulness, we can help develop a generation of resilient, liberators, empowered by a robust sense of self-worth. Teaching mindfulness is helpful when reinforcing positive thinking, as the first step to dispelling negative thought, is to stop and recognise it when it pops into our head. It is important to remind our children (and ourselves); ‘Don’t believe everything you think.’
Setting an example, by talking positively about yourself, sends a very powerful message to children. Practicing mindfulness, being aware of your own negative self-talk, and talking positively about life in general, provides an environment in which your little mimic can thrive. Recognising the core values that define you as a person, and talking about your own strengths and weaknesses, will help your child understand that everyone, adults included, have different strengths and weaknesses and that despite, status and material commodity, it is these core values that really matter.
This leads to the next point, of not falling into the comparison trap. Teaching children to avoid comparing yourself to others is an important lesson of self-acceptance, but also best led by example. This is not only true of material things, like cars, houses and clothes, but also of our personal differences, strengths and weaknesses.
Learning that it is okay to fail, as this means you tried, will help children experience life with a hands-on attitude. Teaching self-compassion can be a useful way to dissipate feelings of invalidity or inadequacy when children fail or fall-short of personal expectations. An easy way to put this into practice is to think about how you would treat your friend in the same situation and apply those words of praise and kindness to yourself.
Children should know that we are all born with the potential to achieve and succeed. By learning to short-circuit our inner critic from an early age, we are paving the path to ultimate personal fulfilment. Like Christopher Reeve once said, “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable”.
If you or your child needs help with controlling negative thoughts, visit the website to peruse our team of Clinical Psychologists and their individual areas of expertise.