People often ask me how to instill the principles that Sandy and I teach in their children.
So in this post, I’ll share specific examples of how to do it. However, first I want you to be clear about one thing…
Your kids will buy what you’re selling when you are living what you’re selling. Your children may do what you tell them to do; however, ultimately they end up modeling your behavior.
So one of the best things you can do for your children is to work on yourself to shift the paradigms that aren’t serving you. If you do that, the rest will be relatively easy because…
Children get it much faster than adults if …
… the adults learn to give them the right information.
Whether the child is 3, 6, 12, or 17, you can talk to them the same way you’d talk to me. The only differences are their experience and their vocabulary. You’ve got to make sure that you use words and situations that they understand and relate to.
For instance, if you’re talking to a 4-year-old who is anxious about a future event, you might suggest that they close their eyes and look into the future and come up with something they’d really like to happen. Get them to engage their imagination because it is so rich at that age. Then, you might encourage them by saying that the two of you can work together to make it—or something similar—happen.
This kind of approach is very effective for young children; however, when they get older and go to school they’re taught not to daydream or fantasize. So you’d need to take another approach with a 7- or 15-year-old.
Let’s walk through a few common challenges children might face at different ages. Pay particular attention to the example that is closest to your child’s age. Then, apply a similar approach to your situation using experiences and language that are relevant for your child.
3-Year-Old with a Poor Self-Image
If your young child makes self-critical comments, avoids tasks or challenges without trying, or does anything that makes you think they have low self-esteem, do the following.
Before the child goes to sleep at night, put your hands on her and repeat things that will help her develop a better self-image.
Here are a few examples of things you might say:
- I am so happy and grateful now that everyone likes me.
- I am so happy and grateful now that I am good at everything I do.
- I am so happy and grateful now that I am smart.
As you repeat the statement(s) over and over, try to get your child to repeat them back to you.
This method is very effective because you’re talking to the child while her mind is in a twilight state, which is a receptive state. You will be depositing these suggestions directly into her subconscious mind, which is totally subjective. It will take whatever you give it.
6-Year-Old Who Hits Others
First, let me say that no matter what your child’s age is, if they have a behavioral problem, don’t react to what they do—respond to it.
Because when you react to situations, you lose control and the other person can see that you are not in control. And that’s not the behavior you want to model for your child. Instead, pause for a moment and respond to the situation.
Now let’s say your 6-year-old daughter sometimes hits or pushes her 4-year-old brother. When it happens, first attend to your son.
Then, move close to your daughter and look her in the eyes. Take a breath and stay kind and calm. Empathize. “That was hard….Your brother was crying…I see you felt bad….Tell me about it.”
Rather than discussing the problem, talk to her about the behavior you want her to exhibit. That is key. You always want to focus on the desired behavior.
You can also have her write and repeat the following statement several times a day, “I’m so happy and grateful now that I’m loving and kind to my brother,” or substitute another behavior that you want her to exhibit. You might also repeat the statement to her as she falls asleep at night.
12-Year-Old Who Feels Neglected
Let’s say your pre-teen daughter feels you spend too much time working and not enough time with her. Understand that 12 is old enough to talk to as an intelligent being. So discuss it—and other problems—with her as you would an adult.
In this case, I suggest that you cut a deal or negotiate with her. Sit together and decide exactly what will work for both of you.
For instance, you might say something like the following:
I want you to be happy, and I want to have a great relationship with you, and I’m betting you feel the same way. So let’s work it out together. Maybe we can both give up a little so this works out well for both us.
You say I spend too much time at work and not enough time with you. So I’m prepared to start going to the office an hour earlier so I can come home earlier. And you have to be prepared to give up some of our time on the weekends so I can finish this big project I’m working on. Then, once the project is over, I’ll spend less time working at home.
How does that sound to you?
Listen to your daughter’s responses and keep discussing it until you’ve come up with a deal that you’re both happy with.
17-Year-Old Who is Negative/Always Complaining
If you have a teen who is often negative, there are several things you can do to help him shift his paradigm.
While your goal may be to help your child become a more positive person, trying to make him be one can backfire. Just understand that right now it is what it is.
Above all else, don’t react, respond. Instead of trying to negate his negativity, listen to it and let it go. That doesn’t mean that you agree with him. When your child is negative about something and then you react by being critical of him, it just adds to the cycle. Responding allows you to remain in control instead of allowing the situation to escalate.
As a teenager, he is old enough for you to give him honest feedback. Your ultimate goal is to let your child be who he is, but also to let him know that his moods, attitude, and words all have an impact. Giving him honest feedback sets your own boundaries while respecting his.
Also, look at your expectations. If you’re expecting your son to be disparaging, frustrated, or verbally abusive, then that’s what you’re going to get. Change your perspective, think about who your son really is, and start to expect more positive things from him. Then, work on giving off a positive and peaceful vibe. And instead of complaining, praise the positive things about him.
Finally, encourage him to make a gratitude list each morning or before he goes to sleep at night. If and when he does that, he’ll start to notice different things than he notices now. He’ll start to attract new friends, see opportunities instead of obstacles, and get different results.
Harvest the good
Share the following with your children and it will change their life forever…
Teach your kids to harvest the good in everything they encounter.
Let them know that there’s good in EVERY situation. Tell them their job is to look for it. The more they look for good, the more they’ll find.
Of course, you’ll have to apply this practice in your own life. As I said before, it won’t do your kids any good if you tell them one thing and then demonstrate another. If they see that you always look for and find something good in every situation, it will be much easier for them to follow your lead. And that alone will help them enjoy a happier, healthier, and more abundant life.
To your success,