Hopefully we all know that great feeling of confidence when we believe in ourselves and our ability to do something well. Unfortunately, at times we experience the other side of that coin when negative thoughts settle in and lead to a frustrated, defeated attitude. “I can’t do this.” “It’s my fault.” Whatever the mantra, we must take a breath and get it out of our head. By focusing on something positive and thinking about our successes rather than our failures, we can claw our way back to the sunny side, get back on that horse, and carry on!
Kids are no different. As parents, we play an important role in the development of that little voice in their head! If we want our children to believe that they can do something, we must tell them. If we want them to see themselves as kind and caring, we must tell them. Every chance we get! What we tell children as they grow and develop can sink into their very being and influence what they believe about themselves. In turn, what they believe about themselves will influence how they behave and the choices that they make.
When our children misbehave, it’s important to show disapproval and correct them, but we can do this while instilling a positive value. For example, a firm “No, we do NOT say that to our friends!” can be followed up with “You are a good friend, and good friends treat each other with respect.”
In addition to building strong relationships, we want our children to develp the adaptive skills that will help them get through life, such as good communication and effective problem solving. By demonstrating these skills ourselves and encouraging our children to do the same, we can help foster these qualities in them. A preschooler who is told “You are a good problem-solver, help me figure out what we should do?!” will not only have a chance to practice the problem solving process, he or she will also begin to internalize it. They will start seeing themselves as someone who is good at solving problems and not giving up! Believing is at LEAST half the battle…
One of my favorite things to tell our boys is “You are a wonderful brother!” I tell them individually and I tell them together. I find the opportunity to tell them when they’re getting along, helping each other, or just having a laugh together. Despite the three and a half years between them, they have developed a strong, wonderful bond that I just know will last a lifetime!
What kinds of messages do you convey to your children? Please share with us your favorites!