I am surprised and disappointed when I see parents make comments and exhibit behaviors that negatively impact their children. I, at first, did not believe it was possible or, while I heard the rhetoric, did not believe that parents were putting their kids in mental states that would damage them long term. But the more I work with kids of all ages and having spent decades working with adults, the more I am truly seeing a direct linkage in inner voices, self esteem, and performance.
Parents that instill confidence, a growth mindset, and establish a framework for their kids in a positive way set their kids up for disproportional happiness and success for the rest of their life.
Negative voices, you put them there
A common phrase I hear is that people have negative voices in their minds and they might say they don’t like their bodies or they might say they’re not good enough or they’re not smart enough. All of those voices are someone else’s voice that is given to them and often originates from their parents or their household environment, and it’s infuriating. Weakness and disappointment in one’s self because of somebody else’s voice, whether it is a parent, a school environment, a home environment, a brother or sister is tough to escape. Unfortunately these voices create havoc and in MANY cases become fixed character traits.
You are beautiful just as you are
I can only hope that we continue to learn and we, as parents, find ways to communicate to our children and to those that we support in our professions. How we engage with every individual has a cumulative impact on that persons quality of life.
- Your daughter is not bad at math — she got that question wrong
- Your son is not messy — he is unclear on what are the boundaries
- She is not bulky — she is strong, growing, and more!
- She is creative — everyone is creative, have you ever seen a kid not draw/paint?!
Leading psychology teaches us to focus on the acts and not the person we’re trying to improve and give feedback. Credit towards the work effort and the direction. Your employee is only so good. Your child only so good at basketball, does that mean they shouldn’t max out and explore it in the fullest? You know the answer ….
Let us not let our judgement and negative voices invade their world.
Nobody is born with the language and the psychology that says that they hate themselves
Rainbows, unicorns, and growth mindset
This is not trying to give people false impressions and optimism, or to weaken reality at all. In fact, it is quite the opposite. It is proven that the right feedback empowers, strengthens, and develops a person (child or co-worker) that will truly achieve their greatest potential.
What we are saying is to give feedback, support and criticism around the behavior and less about the person. This is something that I discovered personally and I learned is a leading habit by those who raised the happiest adults in the world.
You are not stupid, you did the math problem wrong. Two very different things conveying the exact same information. So please parents, let’s not instill weakness, fear, vulnerabilities and negative voices. Our daughters are not bulky, they are not fat, they are not slow. They have strength, their hard work has given them results and wherever their pursuits and passions take them, let us enable them to create the world that will far exceed the world we see. And a world, quite frankly, that we will never know.
The voices are in my head
We all have them. At some point it was beaten into us that we were inadequate and a poor human, which is nonsense when you say it out loud. Yet, here we are. The best and only strategy for you to rewire your mind is to suffocate out the negative voice.
First, when you hear that voice speaking you must attack it with a growth mindset form of thinking. Instead of “I can’t” or “I am not good at” … switch to “I can do some… a piece …” or “I am not good, yet at it ..” You didn’t grow up driving a car, you learned. You can learn and do so much, but appreciate where you are in the journey.
You COULD do handstands with your daughter, but you can’t do them from the start … just like she couldn’t. In my case, my daughter began playing with handstands at the age of 4, and is still working on them … nearly 6 years later. I have joined her as much as possible, but she is still advancing ahead of me. Doesn’t mean I am not getting inverted, just means this guy is taking a little longer to get there.
Please — find positive people that speak and work in the right mindset that builds everyone up. That suffocates out complaining and negative talk. Police yourself and simply swap that voice and or words put in your mind, for ones that give you permission to TRY, TASTE, and IMPROVE. How boring would it be if there was no challenge and everything we tried worked out perfectly every time.
Life is the process, and happiness in that journey. Be sure your mind gives you permission and the support you need. Make that voice your own.
My research and discoveries in these areas can also be found in my book, How Great Parents Think. A collection of insights and practical advice for parents with kids under the age of 10.