What the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.
Great coaches motivate others to want to be better. As parents, we are our children’s first and most important coaches. Kidmandment #3 is all about motivating our children HOW to live the lives of their dreams by having great attitudes.
Children who grow up with positive mental attitudes (commonly referred to as PMAs) are those who radiate contagious positive energy, believe anything is possible and are appreciative of all of the gifts they have been given.
One of the greatest gifts our Creator gave us (only us, as it is also what separates us from the animal kingdom) was the ability to choose our thoughts. One of the greatest gifts parents can give their children is to teach them HOW.
Charles Swindoll said, “I am convinced that life is ten percent what happens to me and ninety percent how I react to it” and, “The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace from that day.”
Another way of thinking about this is that people of average intelligence and great attitudes will almost always be more successful than brilliant people with negative, self-doubting beliefs. Nothing is more destructive in life than negative, self-doubting beliefs. It is up to us, the parents, to make our children’s home a positive environment. Teach children to deposit the good thoughts into their brains (as if they were bank accounts) while discarding the rest. Praise them publicly when you catch them with the right attitude and gently remind them privately when they are being negative. Remember, whatever you focus more of your energy on is what you will get more of. The choice is yours.
When our children embrace the power of PMA, they grow up with the ability to love and respect themselves, to give to others and to be in healthy relationships. They will be happier, healthier and more likely to be surrounded by winners.
Those without PMA—or those who feel that life is against them—will find it difficult to achieve peace and happiness. Their negative thoughts and beliefs become self-fulfilling prophecies and may unintentionally create a downward spiral, resulting in more of what they think about and focus on. Living with negative energy and thoughts may lead people into feeling sorry for themselves and make them more likely to use drugs and alcohol to cope with their unhappiness. Once someone loses self confidence, that person becomes a follower rather than a leader and is less likely to feel hopeful. This is destructive for anyone but especially for parents, because they often end up passing their own negativity on to their children.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way. As parents, if we can help people change their thoughts from negative to positive, we can give them hope. Hope provides us with the energy to keep going during the toughest times in life. Hope gives us a reason to live—and PMA is what leads to hope.
Still, just having hope is not enough. Positive thinking needs to be followed by positive doing. Someone who is not achieving what he desires in life is probably struggling with controlling his thoughts, feelings and/ or actions.
For example, if we allow our negative thoughts to dictate our feelings, we are more apt to believe we don’t deserve any better. We take no action to get out because we accept having a less-than-amazing life. Victims allow themselves to be bullied and abused and they participate in relationships that perpetuate the negativity. These people set extremely low goals for themselves (if they set any at all) because they don’t believe they are deserving of anything good.
This is in stark contrast to those who love and respect themselves, feel empowered and seek out healthy relationships. These people believe they are called to help others and themselves, and they are free to pursue their personal goals and dreams. People with PMA expect something special from their lives and they possess the confidence to set and achieve goals that make them “successful.” They realize that, like all people, they have flaws. And they have learned to accept their flaws as well as respect themselves for their best qualities, or who they are in their totality.
Wow! That sounds great. Just one problem: Since we, as parents, can’t control our children’s thoughts, we must rely on the tremendous amount of influence we have while they are young.
Henry Ford said, “If you think you can or if you think you can’t… you are right.” In other words, if you have decided you cannot influence your children and/or believe you are not a major part of the results of your family’s attitude and results … then you are right! However, those who believe they can make a difference will make a difference!
Yes, we can make a difference in our children’s lives. For example, next time you want to influence someone’s attitude by giving a compliment, listen to how you deliver the message. In order for compliments to be effective, it is crucial that we be truthful, specific and positive (TSP). If you were Suzy, which compliment would you rather receive?
“Suzy, I am so proud of you for the way you helped your sister feel better about herself by taking the time to listen to her today. Turning your phone off and asking good questions really showed her that you care.”
“Suzy, I love you so much and am so proud of you! Thanks for being such a good kid.”
Notice the difference? The first is TSP; the second is nice to hear, but it comes across as vague and shallow.
If giving compliments isn’t your style, ask your children what they like about themselves and encourage them to answer being TSP. Remember, coachable moments with our children are always more effective when the “student” is talking and the “teacher” is listening. Good Parents talk more and listen less. Great Parents talk less, ask great questions and listen more.
EMOTIONAL CONTROL (EC) is another concept you need to teach your children to improve their chances of having positive mental attitudes (PMAs). EC is your ability to control your emotions, as opposed to your emotions controlling you. We all know of people who are so emotional that they become irrational. Some people are born with this predisposition; others learn it from their parents. These people have a difficult time having long-term positive relationships.
Here is the tough part. If you don’t love yourself unconditionally it will be difficult, if not impossible to expect anyone—including your children—to love themselves unconditionally. If you don’t have a PMA, now is the time to start working on it for yourself and for your family. Without having a PMA yourself, it is much harder to implant a positive sense of self within your children. However, when you do, you will feel great about the fact that you have given them a wonderful gift that will last a lifetime. You will know when the world knocks your child down a little, they’ll know how to take a fall, and get back on their feet on their own, with a smile and say “That’s it!? That’s all you’ve got?” The point is, happy, positive, goal setting parents are more likely to raise happy, positive, goal setting children. So lead by example and become the person you want your children to be.