by Phillip Mountrose
Would you like your child to be more responsible? Find school more enjoyable? Be more honest? Handle criticism? Be more flexible and deal with change?
The natural way to experience such positive growth is by having children believe in themselves. The word is “believe” for with positive beliefs come honesty, confidence, responsibility and other treasures of self-esteem. Underlying our feelings are beliefs. It is beliefs that give rise to feelings.
They also create attitudes, decisions, and choices. Beliefs have far-reaching affects and hold a powerful influence on our life. In beliefs, you find the source of the problem. This will lead to its solution and the possibility of newfound beliefs.
When you recognize and change beliefs, you go beyond altering behavior. A person’s whole outlook changes. This explains why the approach of simply changing a children’s behavior can have little impact on their internal world and self-esteem. For example, let’s take a child who believes things are unfair.
After your discussion about his sportsmanship, he may agree to change his behavior about not yelling when he disagrees with an umpire’s call during a softball game. But his outlook stays unchanged. He remains ever ready to create other behaviors to reflect this belief about an unfair world (such as complaining to his teammates).
Epictetus, the ancient Roman philosopher, noted it is not events themselves but how we view them that affect us. We filter the world through what we believe. For example, the person who sees the world as a cruel place frequently feels anxious and scared. Whereas a person who views the world as a friendly place feels calm, adventurous, and confident. Naturally particular situations and environments influence the way beliefs play themselves out.
Where do beliefs originate? In early childhood, beliefs form from our experiences, our needs and how parents treat us. Initially, the child wants love and approval from his family. As the child grows, peer influence comes into play. Although beliefs may change, they still continue to frame how the child views the world.
How do you tell when beliefs limit and distort? Negative “off” beliefs say you are better than or worse than others. This outlook causes you to separate from others, feeling inadequate, defective, and flawed. As a result of being cut off from yourself and others, you feel helpless and victimized.
You then continually seek to prove your restrictive belief and create self-fulfilling prophecies about yourself and the world. Not surprisingly, many troubles stem from such a blocked vantage point because if you look for trouble, you will probably find it.
You can discover beliefs by examining thought patterns. To find an off belief, review an area of difficulty in your life or a child’s life. What are the feelings about it? When difficult feelings arise, remember to keep breathing deeply. Now notice the thoughts around the problem. What pattern or generalization is present? Therein lies an inhibiting belief.
Do things seem out of control? Are people viewed as adversaries? Are there thoughts of hopelessness and despair of trying? Such beliefs undermine even many valiant efforts to change. Limiting beliefs polarize, pitting one person against another, placing the person at odds with himself and others. Whether she sees herself as more than or less than others, the person ends up judging himself as inadequate. Off beliefs connect to judgments that devalue yourself and others.
RECOGNIZING THE CHILD'S BELIEF SYSTEM
A collection of beliefs forms a belief system. For example, limiting beliefs such as “life is unfair,” “I don’t get what I want” and “nobody likes me” form a belief system of “it doesn’t matter.” This creates what is commonly called a “bad” attitude such as “I don’t care about anything.”
Similarly, enhancing beliefs like “life is fair” and “I feel included” form an uplifting belief system like “life is an adventure.” This in turn creates a productive attitude, which fosters caring and compassion. By transforming individual “off” beliefs to “on” beliefs eventually entire belief systems shift. Frowns turn into smiles.
It is helpful to recognize and accept that we all have our off and on beliefs. Be compassionate and patient with yourself and children.
TEN WAYS TO HAVE CHILDREN BELIEVE IN THEMSELVES
People, particularly developing children, collect and hold beliefs, acquiring them from parents and other authority figures, peers, and media. You can carry negative beliefs for as long as a lifetime if left unexamined.
Notice how the “off” beliefs show an I am more than or less than others viewpoint, having the person feel separated and at odds with himself and others.
By contrast, the “on” beliefs honor the person’s uniqueness, allowing him or her respect for self and others. It’s time to turn around all the “no’s” the child has received and give more “yes’s.” Instead of reinforcing beliefs that limit, off beliefs, let’s emphasize and teach beliefs that liberate, on beliefs. Here are ten beliefs that can significantly improve any child’s life.
1) Instead of “school work is hard,” try “I can improve.”
2) Instead of “I don’t have any control or power,” try “I can express my thoughts and feelings.”
3) Instead of “I can’t stand people criticizing me,” try “I can handle criticism.”
4) Instead of “things are unfair,” try “I can make things fairer; or handle it when things are unfair.”
5) Instead of “Nobody likes me,” try “Some people like me.”
6) Instead of “I must be perfect,” try “I can learn from my mistakes.”
7) Instead of “That person makes me angry,” try “I am responsible for what I think and feel, and for how I behave.”
8) Instead of “Lying gets you out of trouble,” try “I tell the truth.”
9) Instead of “I have to get what I want,” try “I sometimes get what I want.”
10) Instead of “I have to do it this way,” try “I can do it different ways.”
Beliefs come down to a few simple words. But those select words hold a vast power that can imprison us or liberate us. Change a few words and your life can profoundly change. Awareness is the key that opens the door. By helping kids find uplifting beliefs, you guide them to love themselves and others. And that kind of help is a loving act in itself.
AN EXTRAORDINARY TOOL TO HELP
One of the best ways to instill positive beliefs is the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). This proven "tapping techniques" works on children, teens and adults remarkably well.
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