The fact that more and more children are being diagnosed with a mental health problem, such as anxiety or depression, suggests that children need more support than ever to navigate through life. We spoke to Joy Marchese, parenting expert, Co-Founder of iGROWco and Founder of Positive Discipline UK, on how you can begin to develop positive belief systems from an early age and help your children thrive…
Parents play a crucial role in the development of a child’s belief systems and greatly influence their children’s overall well-being. Developing a positive mindset from an early age can be linked to a variety of specific developmental outcomes related to social and emotional well-being as well as academic achievement.
When children are misbehaving, they are speaking to adults in code. A child’s behaviour is what you see on the surface. However, hidden below the surface you can find the belief behind the behaviour, and the child’s deepest need for belonging (connection) and significance (contribution). Too often children form a “mistaken belief” about how to seek belonging and significance. For instance, a child who seeks attention may believe, “I belong only when I’m being noticed or receiving special service.” A child who displays stubbornness or defiance may believe, “I belong only when I am the boss, in control, or proving no one can boss me.” Our task is to help children find belonging and significance in socially useful ways by giving them power through choices and opportunities to contribute. In addition to developing a growth mindset by teaching them that mistakes are opportunities for growth.
How can we develop positive belief systems from an early age?
How many times as a child did you hear ‘Don’t do that!’, ‘Listen to me when I’m talking to you’, ‘No, that’s wrong’, ‘You’re naughty’? These messages can start creating self-doubt. Negative thought patterns (like ‘I’m not athletic’ or ‘I’m not worthy of love’) mean we end up making choices that limit our potential. And as adults, we have to try and remove this emotional baggage.
Research shows that we develop our belief systems from the moment we’re born. They are the foundation for our whole lives. Without a positive (growth) mindset, kids feel they’re stuck with the situations they’re in and the skills they have. Teaching them that they can grow and improve themselves, doesn’t just help them face challenges better, it helps them to achieve their dreams!
To help children become aware of themselves, explore their feelings and a sense of connection with the world do daily affirmations together from an early age. This forms your child’s values, develops positive beliefs, and encourages a growth mindset which builds confidence as they grow up.
Tips for using daily affirmations:
- Repeat the affirmation
The practice of repeating positive daily affirmations, or ‘MAGIC’ words (as we like to call them), inspires reflection and helps children to develop positive belief systems. Repetition is the key to their success! Have your child to say the affirmation 3 times aloud every day for about a week and encourage them to say it with confidence.
- Make it fun
Create a cosy space to say the affirmations together. Have them say it to their favourite cuddly toy or your pet. Sing the affirmation together.
- The right time?
Make it part of your morning (start the day on a positive note) and bedtime routine – during these times your child’s subconscious is more open to affirmations.
- Model for your children
What’s the best way to learn? Teach! Lead by example, this encourages your children to model your behaviour. Throughout the day share examples of moments when you were ‘being’ the affirmataion.
- A feeling of magic
An excellent way to get your child motivated to say the affirmations is by explaining that they act like magic words that become true if you repeat them often enough.
- Create affirmations for specific issues
If your child’s struggling with homework, an affirmation saying, “I am hard working. I do things even though they’re hard,” may be the perfect answer. Reinforce, until their mindset changes.
You can follow Joy on Instagram at @igrowco and @positivedisciplineuk respectively. Joy’s new product for children, iGROWco Sprouts, 52 Positive “I am” Affirmation Cards for Kids, is available to order now.