About Us

My photo
At The Happy Starfish we are dedicated to providing a wealth of information, products, workshops and articles all aimed at celebrating health, happiness and peaceful living. We believe that life should be an awesome adventure filled with love; love life and life will love you back. Are you willing to surrender what you think you are for what you could become? Are you ready?

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Positive parenting through language

For the past few weeks my 6 year old son has been having trouble getting to, and staying, asleep.  It is rare I sleep all the way through the night with my pain levels, so consequently this last month has passed in a blur of exhaustion.

Despite gently probing Finley the only explanation I have managed to secure is “Mummy I have worries that stop me sleeping, not big ones, just normal worries”.  I cannot dismiss any concerns at age 6 as being unimportant, I knew he had been worried about sports day but that had now passed and I feared getting up in the night had become a habit.

Last night at bed time I produced with flourish a bag of Gatamalan worry dolls.  I explained to Finley that these dolls were the answer to his sleeping problem and once they were under his pillow they would take all his worries away from him and he would sleep through the night.  After going through the bag and naming them all he promptly fell asleep for ten hours!

The language we use is critical.  The subconscious mind has difficulty processing negatives and they cause us distress and fear.  Consequently, had I said to Finley “These dolls will help because you can’t sleep” he would have picked out the wordscan’t and sleep which would have reinforced the belief he had formed that he no longer slept through the night.  Using the sentence “The dolls will take your worries away and you will sleep through the night” he subconsciously picked out will take worries away will sleep.  Clever old English language eh?

It is during our formative years that we develop many of our negative beliefs which many of us carry into adulthood;  I can’t, I’m not good enough, It’s too hard ….  Inadvertently we pick up these ideas from the language of our primary care-givers, parents, teachers, child minders etc. and the more we hear them the more we believe the words to be true.

If you begin using words affirmative in nature they will integrate naturally into your vocabulary.  If we can use language to eradicate limiting beliefs in a child’s head we can help them lead more empowering lives which will impact into adulthood.  Awesome how powerful words can be isn’t it, and such a simple thing to practice.

So next time your child asks you for something they can’t do, i.e. I want to go skating.  Keep the reply positive.  Rather than “you don’t know how to skate” you could try, yes “you can learn how to skate”.  Keep commands simple, replace “don’t run” with "walk" (the brain will respond to run).  Start to notice how differently your children respond to you and how much easier it is to parent.

In the wise words of Mahatma Ghandhi: -
Keep your thoughts positive, because your thoughts become your words.
Keep your words positive, because your words become your behaviour.
Keep your behaviour positive, because your behaviour becomes your habits.
Keep your habits positive, because your habits become your values.
Keep your values positive, because your values become your destiny.
Spreading the love, 

Louise xx

1 comment:

  1. Emma Peacock @ Tue, 17 Jul 2012 21:25:31 +0000:

    Well done Lou, for writing a piece, which inspired me to write. I read this article with interest, both as a parent and a therapist, and whole heartedly agree. When I first came across this approach I was blown away to understand our minds find it hard to metaphor, or place an image to, a negative abstract concept. So in our house “don’t spill that drink” became “keep the juice in the cup” and “don’t leave your coat at school” became “come home with your coat” Hannah my daughter would have been two when I started changing the language I used with her and although it sounds contrived when you first start, it does have interesting results. The formative messages we collect and take to believe as true, start preverbal with body language and actions. So we can extend this concept of positive speech into positive actions. For those of you who have children grandchildren etc, think back - how often were you relieved when your child was quiet and occupied, thinking to your self “ while they are quiet I can do …” Now think to the moment where the little people in our world have driven us to utter distraction, and we find ourselves saying things like “not now”, “go away”, “later”, “be quiet” or even punishing what we believe is naughty behaviour. Although the feed back has been negative for our child it has been recognised and the behaviour acknowledged. In the absence of positive connection with our care giver, we will seek negative, because negative recognition is better than none. To stop and face our child as they speak to us, to consider how you react to what looks like bad behaviour, remembering that there is, a benefit or emotional pay off (negative or positive) in all behaviours, before we react on auto pilot. A cuddle, a smile, or to stop what we are doing and enjoy that moment with our child, speaks volumes. If we take time to positively reward the behaviour and thinking, that is more beneficial to our children, they grow with a better image of who they are; that they deserve to be seen positively; and hopefully, they’ll seek out healthy relationships and futures in later life. From my own experience this type of parenting, empowers both child and parent, a rare win win in today’s world. Emma