So far, we have talked about the importance of praise and positive language, of nurturing intuition and of turning negatives into positives. We’ve considered the value of affirmations and of building up a toolkit of imagery and mental rehearsal techniques.
Now, let’s draw some of these threads together and consider a final handful of useful tips to help the children in your life develop a positive mindset.
- Make good use of bedtime.
Whatever the age of your child, bedtime is an excellent time to work with visualisations and affirmations. We all naturally enter a deeper and quieter state of mind as we get ready to fall asleep and it is in this quiet state of mind, the ‘alpha’ state as its commonly known, that we are most easily influenced by the thoughts in our mind.
Bedtime is also a traditional time for storytelling, engaging the imagination and helping your child set their intention to have a successful and happy day ahead.
To make the best use of this naturally impressionable state of mind, set aside a few moments each evening before sleep to help your child focus their thoughts on a happy dream time as this will help them carry a positive vibration through into their sleep.
Encouraging them to actively set their intention to have a good day tomorrow is also a lovely, simple way to send them off to sleep with positive expectations for the day ahead.
How you do this will depend on the age of your child of course. Perhaps you could weave those positive suggestions into a goodnight story, or if they are too old for stories it may be enough just to remind them to focus on some positive thoughts as they fall asleep. Either way, the key here is to be specific.
We all have times when our expectations of how things will work out in the future are less than positive. This is why it so important to help your child to take charge of their feelings by suggesting that they set their intention to have a happy day or to find their next maths lesson easier, or whatever is most relevant and useful to them.
Do remember to start your affirmation with the words ‘I intend to’, rather than ‘I want to’, which only suggests a potential achievement rather than a real one.
- Today has been a good day
Just as it’s helpful to set an intention for a good day ahead, it is also useful to end the day by recalling with gratitude some of the good things about the day that has just passed.
It sounds such a simple thing to do but this exercise can be a wonderfully useful way of turning your child’s attention onto what is good, positive and uplifting. It is especially valuable at the end of a day that has been particularly challenging or stressful.
In helping your child to experience gratitude, even for the small things, you naturally shift their attention from what is wrong or missing in their life, to what is right and good and real.
Using open-ended questions can help them to place their attention on what has been their most positive experiences during the day. For this exercise, it’s best to avoid the use of closed questions that can only be answered with a yes, or no. For example, you could ask, “what was the best thing about” (name of activity or event), or “what was the easiest part of” (name activity), and so on.
Aim to help them come up with at least half a dozen things and preferably as many as ten things that they are grateful for each day, including things that have gone well, been uplifting, or that they can appreciate about themselves.
Adopting an attitude of appreciation and gratitude also goes a long way to strengthening their ‘inner template’ for confidence and optimism, as well as giving their self-esteem a gentle boost.
- Be a great role model
Your children are learning from you every single day whether you think you are consciously teaching them or not. They will soak in your beliefs, behaviours and attitudes like ink on blotting paper, all the while steadily learning how to mirror you.
Think about this for a moment. What would you most like your child to notice and learn from you today?
Inner peace, a great sense of humour, persistence, the ability to speak up for what they need, or believe in? What skills, behaviours or attitudes could you model for them to help develop a positive mental attitude?
The more they learn how to see the positive aspects of the people and situations around them, the stronger and more confident they will become.
- Remember the power of praise
Look for ways to give honest and realistic praise every single day, even if that praise is just for trying something that did not quite work out. If it has been a particularly trying or difficult day, then make a special effort to give your child a simple task that you know that they can do well just so that you can offer genuine praise.
- Stop negative thinking in its tracks
Make a conscious effort to notice any negative self-talk and gently help your child to realise that what they are saying about themselves is not true. For example, negative thoughts about their abilities in particular subjects at school can quickly become false generalities such as “I’m stupid”, or “I’ll never be clever at . . . whatever it is”. Aim to nip these negative thoughts in the bud and replace them as soon as possible with statements that are realistic, positive, truthful and uplifting.
If their negative feelings are less specific, or not easy for you to reflect back to them at the time, you can still help to break any negative thinking patterns by focusing their attention on the details of the good things in their day. However small those good things maybe this is always useful to help soften and release a negative mindset, or diffuse a state of stress or anxiety.
Letting your child know that they can use this exercise on their own to help take control of how they are feeling is also a very empowering thing to do and it’s a way of letting them know that you believe in their strengths and ‘greatness’. You could also back this up with tangible reminders of their strengths. For example, you could help them build a ‘wall of fame’ with pictures or affirmations that relate to their growing confidence and abilities.
Finally . . .
I hope you have enjoyed reading through these suggestions and completing the exercises.
These simple tips and daily reminders can end up making a big difference to how the children in your life feel about themselves. Even if you think that you are already doing all this, even if you think that these suggestions are too simple to be special, please do not dismiss them.
Before you close this book, I have one further invitation for you.
It is this; make a commitment to look for new ways every day to help enhance your child’s positive mental attitude. Be as creative and innovative as you can and you are sure to delight the children in your life with your expressions of love and support for them.
Perhaps you might also be tempted to try some of these ideas out for yourself as well. After all, positive thinking isn’t just important for your children, it’s important for you too.
I wish you much fun, laughter and inspiration as you and your children enjoy learning and growing together!
Remember change can occur very quickly.
It’s the not changing that takes a long time.