I gave a talk the other night to a lovely group of parents about helping children to make good choices.
During the talk I explained that mums are only with their children on average 14 hours of the waking week, while father’s are there for 7 (on average). https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/making-time-for-kids-study-says-quality-trumps-quantity/2015/03/28/10813192-d378-11e4-8fce-3941fc548f1c_story.html
In other words our school aged children are making decisions about what to think, say and do roughly 77 hours a week without our guidance! (That’s assuming they sleep 10 hours a night.)
The biggest complication however, is that our children are only making conscious decisions for 4 hours or 5% of the time they are not with us. The other 73 hours or 95% of the time they are on ‘autopilot’, which means they are thinking, saying and doing things similar to what they have thought, said and done before based on the beliefs in their subconscious. http://www.neurosciencemarketing.com/blog/articles/subconscious-decision.htm
Imagine for example that a popular child in your kid’s class has been nasty to them for some time. Not in an obvious way that will get that child in trouble, in an underhanded way, like the subtle exclusion from the group (walking away when your child approaches), the eye rolling (when your child answers a question in class) and the whispering behind their back. Not that these behaviours are happening all day everyday, just a few times a week, which is enough to make your child believe that they are not liked by this popular child and his or her group of friends.
The subconscious believes whatever we tell it to believe and then it automatically thinks things in accordance with our beliefs that affect our words and actions without us realising (autopilot). In this case your child probably believes they are not popular, that the popular kids don’t like them and that school sucks!
The consequences of these beliefs could look like, bad moods in the morning, tantrums about going to school, concerns over their physical appearance (hair, clothes, jewellery etc.), not wanting to catch the bus (as one of the popular kids is on the bus), walking the long way to class (as the popular kids hang out in a central location), not answering questions in class (in case they get the eye roll) and the list goes on.
So how can you help?
My 11 year old and I spent all day Sunday spring cleaning his room. At the end of the day I took 2 boxes of books, one bag of toys and one bag of clothes to the op shop collection bin. He didn’t need that stuff anymore, he had grown out of it and it was cluttering up his room. I had a realisation yesterday that the same goes with our kids’ beliefs! Every now and then they need a spring clean! So here’s how to do it – if you are familiar with Sparky and Shady stuff this is based on a Pit Stop.
- When you notice your child is low, take the time (assuming you have 20 -30 minutes, if not do it later) to ask them, “What’s wrong?” Sit with them and encourage them to tell you everything that is wrong in their life and everything they are sad, angry and scared about. If they say, “nothing” suggest that they have been a bit a low and it is good to talk about what is upsetting them so they can get it out and move on. Don’t give your child advice or try to fix the problem (that’s Sparky’s job a bit later on), just let them say everything they are worried or upset about. Ask, “What else” to make sure they get it all out.
- Encourage your child to express their feelings while they are telling you everything that is wrong. Let them cry, yell, bash their pillow or whatever they need to do. I let kids swear when they are getting stuff out, because it relieves pain and allows the thoughts and words to flow.
- When they have it all out (this could take up to 20 minutes) ask them to ask their Sparky (loving inner voice), “Is it time to let go?” Chances are very high that Sparky will say yes! If so, get your child to imagine that all the thoughts and feelings they just expressed are in some sort of bundle (baggage, rubbish, a pile of poo, whatever) and get them to hand the bundle to Sparky and to imagine Sparky throwing it away. If Sparky says “no” it is not time to let go, then go to the next step and trust that they aren’t ready to let go.
- Ask your child to ask Sparky, “What now?” as in, “what do you suggest I think, believe, say and do now Sparky?”
In the example of your child being excluded, their Sparky would probably suggest it was the other child’s problem and that if your child told a trustworthy teacher about the incidents the teacher could help the other child! Or if your child is young and hasn’t had much practice standing up for themselves, maybe Sparky would suggest you going with them to help them talk to the teacher.
Pretty logical really –
- Tell someone you love
- Express your feelings
- Let go of beliefs that are hurting you and
- Replace your shady beliefs with loving beliefs!
That way when your child is driving around on autopilot 95% of the time they will be thinking, saying and doing loving things automatically.
That’s it! Happy spring cleaning!