Do you ever reflect on yourself as a carefree child who couldn’t wait to grow up and achieve amazing, exciting things in life and wonder when self-doubt and negative beliefs started to develop within you? My 5 year old daughter wants to sing her own songs on stage and teach other people how to sing when she grows up. She makes up songs every day and performs them with her microphone. She has no doubt in her mind that this is her future. If she were to sit down and talk to adults about her desire they would no doubt tell her that this is a hard road, not many people make it and she would need to put a lot practice in, starting now. They might advise her to have a back up plan, focus on her studies and think about a more realistic goal. I hope I am not that parent and I aim to try to support her in keeping her dream alive, however it is easy to say that when she is 5 years old as opposed to 15 and school life is nearing its end and decisions need to be made for her future.
It is so important as parents and influential adults in children’s lives that we don’t enforce our limiting beliefs onto them. We have all marveled at stories about people who have been in accidents and doctors tell them they will never walk or talk again and through their determination and self belief these people overcome all obstacles and defy doctors’ predictions.
So many of the limiting beliefs we have as adults are learnt in childhood by well meaning parents and adults in our life. So how can we now as adults stop the cycle so that our children don’t have to work through belief systems that don’t resonate with them when they are older? We already do it so beautifully when our children are babies. We encourage them to talk and to walk, we praise them for the small things such as when they first grab a toy or roll over. We are in awe of their wonderful achievements. When they are learning to walk and fall over time after time, we, as parents are there to help them back up and tell them how clever they are. At this early stage we are instilling a positive belief that they can achieve anything.
We need to keep lifting them up and teaching them that they can do anything more than ever as they start school. It is so easy to compare them to other children especially if you have a child who is struggling to keep up academically or a child whose behaviour and energy does not match the level of the majority of the class, whether that energy is too high or too low.
As parents we need to help our children find their unique gifts and strengths. What do they excel in? What are they passionate about? What are they constantly drawn to? From this we can build their self-esteem while at the same time not making them feel less than anyone else because of their weaknesses. I asked my 15 year old what helped him when he was struggling to read and spell in primary school and he said that it was enjoying and excelling in maths. For other children it may be a particular sport, art or music. Or perhaps it is something totally different and it is that they are very kind and loving to animals and young children or are always offering to help other people. Whatever it is, we as parents need to help them harness their strengths while at the same time support them in the areas they are struggling so these don’t also become limiting beliefs in their life. They may be a poor reader but that doesn’t make them unintelligent. They may find it hard to focus their attention on one task, which while this is a disadvantage at school, can be a wonderful trait for a creative adult.
All of our children have the opportunity to reach their full potential and build the most incredibly enriching life for themselves that will impact our world in a positive way. We as parents need to be there to support them on their journey. We can’t even begin to imagine the future our children will grow up in and the possibilities that will be available to them. If you are a mother or parent of a child who is pushing the boundaries it is because they are here to change our world for the better. We mustn’t hold them back with old limiting beliefs.
Counsellor & Author of 'Ben's School Daze'
Owner Motherhood & You
Co-Director Magnetic Moves