“It takes a hundred ‘atta boys’ to erase a single demeaning criticism.” The old saying may be true, but there’s definitely a better way to get that important job done. It starts with a commitment to help our kids recognize the destructive messages they’re recording in their internal “Book of Me” and equip them with the tools they need to do some major rewrites.
If you’re listening, kids will tell you what’s going on. They’ll say, “I can’t do it” or “nobody likes me” or “I’m too fat.” But what they’re actually sharing may be their fear of being a failure, their fear of being “less than” or their fear of being bullied. Or it could be a way of saying, “I don’t like the way I feel.” They don’t know how to name depression or anxiety, but they know it doesn’t feel good.
To really get to the heart of the matter, we need to learn how to help kids feel comfortable talking about their worries and fears. Put simply, we need to be able to have conversations with them about their mental health. According to Jill Dennison (a mental health promotion and resilience facilitator at the Canadian Mental Health Association) kids need to recognize and understand the things in their lives that throw them out of balance. Learning about mental health at a young age can help them learn the skills they’ll need to help restore that balance.
I read an article recently by Katherine Martinelli that really struck a chord with what I experienced as a kid, and what I went through (as an adult) as I “erased” some of the negativity in my own Book of Me. In the article, Martinelli offers a brief “how to” for parents who want to “free children from negative thinking and steer them away from destructive self-talk.” They include listening to and validating their concerns, identifying the why of their self-critical statements, and helping kids identify a realistic approach to changing their thinking and altering the course of their lives.
What thrilled me about that article was the validation it gave to the foundation of Simply Successful Kids and what we do in the world. Even better: it was a giant “atta boy” that I don’t even need anymore!
Imagine kids learning to recognize stressors and use exercises to bring their minds and bodies back into balance.
Imagine young children learning how holistic practices can strengthen their own mind, body, spirit resources.
Imagine kids (and parents) learning how to use such tools as tapping, meditation and guided imagery to move from catastrophe to calm.
Imagine how invaluable self-discovery, insight, self-determination — everything it took me years to understand and apply to myself — would be to children if they “got it” right from the beginning.
Imagine helping your children be emotionally healthy, happy, compassionate, responsible and successful throughout their entire lives!
Debra Timmerman, RN is the Co-Creator of Simply Successful Kids.
Next blog: Simply Successful in the not-so-frozen North!