Advice Column, Health, Parenting

Empower your Child with Healthy Thinking Habits

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How many of us teach our child to read, the times tables, how to ride a bicycle, cooking skills or manners? As parents we are constantly teaching, sometimes without even realising it. While children learn and absorb all that is being taught there is one common denominator that is being used. The Brain.

Our thoughts are a soup of all sensory experiences reaching from today back to our formative years. For most of us, children included, memories and emotions from all different time frames pop up in our minds at random moments without explanation. This subconscious part of our brain is dominant when our minds drift, we daydream or perform actions on auto pilot. How often doesn’t that happen? 95% of the time. This can be distractive as well as destructive.

So how can the youth take charge of their mind, their body and their life? Constructive training of the mind. When we learn something new we are in a heightened state of awareness, by repetition our conscious and alert mind steps back, yawns, and says “Been there done that” and so the automatic subconscious takes the front seat.   The subconscious area of our brain, the holder of habits, is where all of our automatic responses arise from.   Thus through repetition of constructive exercises the subconscious will ensure healthy reactions. For example, if a child repeats daily affirmations focused on current values, when posed with a challenge the automatic response will be, without thinking, ‘Yes I can’ rather than ‘No, I can’t’.

During my creative work with thousands of drama students between ages four and eighteen years, along with my continuing experience as a full time mom I have found the following practices really work:

  • Affirmations – “I am … “ (fill in the gaps with what the individual would like to enhance, the emphasis being on detail). Eg: instead of “I am clever”, rather “I am in control of my mind, I can easily understand maths sums”. Let the child write their own affirmation about what is important to them as this will empower them and assist them to remember it and repeat it daily.
  • Breathing – Shortness of breath can add to high emotions and unclear thoughts. This brain refresher should be used throughout the day when needed: Breathe in deeply and slowly, fill your lungs completely and exhale completely, breathing slowly.
  • Listening – Quieten the mind by listening like a sponge. For a period of ten minutes ask your child to not think of responses while some one else is talking, just listen. This encourages the child to be present in the moment and really absorb the information that is being relayed.
  • Visualising – This tool uses the mind to assist in problem solving or reaching a specific goal. Target a specific area that the child wishes to change and/or improve. Create a scene that solves the problem or reaches the goal. The more details the better. The child should visualise the scene with eyes closed for at least five minutes. The more it is practiced the more effective it will be.
  • Thought Control – A child tends to verbalise thoughts as they occur so it is easy to hear thought patterns. Monitor this and if the child is bashing the self down instead of building the self up stop him/her immediately. Explain, for example: “You can’t expect to win the prize for english if you keep judging and criticising your work”. Encourage and remind the child to stop a negative thought as it happens and replace it with an affirmation.
  • Have your child make and place cards around the house as a reminder of the above.

By regularly following these few easy steps you will give your child the gift of leading a fulfilled life through mature self-confidence, determination and inspiration.   Dr Wayne Dyer, an American psychologist and international best seller of “When you change your thoughts, you change your life”, says: “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”.

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