Mindset is of crucial importance both in life, and as a parent. Our thoughts become our beliefs and our beliefs guide our behaviors. Said in a different way, if we can change our thoughts, then we change our beliefs and we can change our behaviors.
Let's look at a real-life example from a few weeks ago.
We had nothing on our schedule, it was cold and rainy and I dressed in sweat pants and an oversized comfy shirt. I felt relaxed and kind of lazy (if I'm being honest) and I was not getting ANYTHING accomplished. After lunch, I went upstairs and changed into leggings, a more dressy top and a sweater. That afternoon, I got almost my entire to-do list completed.
Your mindset, the way you are viewing things, can change your feelings, your motivation and your behavior.
Here's another example I use in my Childbirth classes because when in labor, our thoughts alone can put us into fight or flight and stop the labor in its tracks.
Here's the scenario. You are afraid of spiders (if you're not really afraid of spiders, insert your own fear here!). You come to my class and I welcome you by saying, "I'm so glad you're here! Welcome! Just to let you know, we had a small infestation of spiders in our classroom yesterday. The exterminator came and we think they are gone, but we're asking everyone to keep an eye out. If you see or feel any spiders, please let me know."
After hearing that welcome, you may not even be entering the classroom. If you do enter, your senses are heightened, your heart rate has increased, your breathing rate has increased and you begin to chest breathe. Maybe you have a nervous stomach and you start to feel nauseous. Maybe your muscles start to tense and you feel jittery.
Here's the issue...in this scenario, you've not actually seen a spider. It is the THOUGHT of the spider that has spiked your adrenaline and put you into a fight or flight response (all the changes we just talked about). Your thoughts are so powerful they can change your body's physiology.
Three Mindset Shifts for Parents
#1 - "My child is not giving me a hard time, they are having a hard time."
When your mindset is my child is giving me a hard time, pushing my buttons, messing with me, trying to make me miserable...you go into your interaction in a heightened emotional state (probably frustration) and your defenses up.
When you switch that to say my child is having a hard time right now, you go into wanting to help them. Your energy is more calm. The crying, kicking, screaming brings about feelings of sympathy or empathy rather than frustration.
When you make this mindset shift, your behavior shifts from wanting to lose your stuff to wanting to teach, help and support your little one.
#2 - Am I about to bring my child into my calm or join their chaos?
Instead of just rushing in to a situation and potentially making it worse, check in with yourself. Ask, "In the emotional state that I am in, in the mindset I'm in, in the thought pattern I'm in RIGHT NOW...am I bringing them calm or joining their chaos?"
If your answer is chaos, stop yourself. Take a deep breath. Walk the other way for a moment. Do SOMETHING to calm down your emotions so you can change your mindset and your energy.
#3 - Replace the words"Tantrum" and "Meltdown" with "Emotional Release"
You are out at the grocery store. They ask for the sugary cereal. You say No. They throw themselves on the floor and start to scream and cry.
Don't say to yourself "tantrum time" or "cue meltdown". Stop and LOOK. Look at your child and think to yourself "they are having a really big emotional release right now."
Again, this mindset shift makes you feel more compassion and empathy and makes you want to help them rather than walk past ignoring them.
Once you replace the terminology in the moment, go back to #2!
Four Mindset Shifts for Our Little Ones
When our kiddos are little, they don't really have the ability to form their own beliefs. They get their thought patterns and beliefs from US. Their parents. That's why it's so important to really be intentional about what we say to them...because that becomes their self-talk.
This is why I put so much onus on the quality of our interactions with our kids. This is why it's so important that we reinforce that our love and support are unconditional.
#1 - F.A.I.L. = First Attempt In Learning
We learn from a very early age that failure is not a good thing. If you are a perfectionist, you know exactly the sentiment I am talking about. For us, as adults, having this view of failure is unhealthy...and it's no different for our kids.
Think of the multitude of new things our kids are learning. From social skills to academics, managing emotions to physical development there is ALWAYS learning going on. And we learn WAY MORE from our failures than we do from our successes...so let's teach our kids that from the get-go.
When anyone in your family makes a mistake, celebrate it! "Great job failing! That was your first attempt in learning ____. What will you do differently next time you try?"
When you remove the fear of failure, of making mistakes, kids are much more open to exploring their environment and their abilities.
#2 - "I can do hard things."
This one is pretty straight forward.
This is hard, but I can do it. I can figure it out. I can do hard things.
#3 - "I can't do it YET."
Add the word "yet" to the end of sentences your child comes to you with. For example...
Your Child: "I can't get this block to stay standing!"
You: "You can't get this block to stay standing YET! Keep trying. Would you like my help?"
#4 - "I can't help you until I know what the problem is."
One of the tools I coach parents to use during a child's emotional release is this phrase. We don't say "stop crying". We don't say "calm down". We sit with our child and share our calm (remember YOUR mindset shift #2) and we say (something like) "I really want to help you, but I can't do that until I know what the problem is. Can we try to calm down together so you can tell me what happened?"
Adjust the verbiage to be age-appropriate and for the way you would normally speak. But even a non-verbal child can calm down with you and show you what the problem is. Then, you help.
Additional Resources on the Topic of Mindset
On Alexa Skills - Everyday Positivity Flash Briefings
A Bonus Mindset Activity Just for You!
We talked about self-talk in our littles...but what about our self-talk? Have you noticed the things you say to yourself lately? Here's an exercise to help you make a shift in that area.
When I did this exercise, I realized I would NEVER speak to my child the way I was speaking to myself. So this bonus mindset shift is all about being more kind to ourselves and giving ourselves some grace...it's the least you deserve Mama!
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