It’s amazing to me that we don’t teach kids how to think. We teach them how to solve academic problems but nowhere in school or in kids early years does anyone teach them how to solve conflicts, manage emotions or change the way they think about events in their lives. This misstep is indicative in the rising rates of anxiety, depression and overall stress in kids lives.
I often share with kids this analogy: your brain is like a television and you have the remote (I call this tool Change the Channel). You can choose what you think about and when your brain gets on a negative channel you have the power to change it. You just have to choose a positive thought just as powerful as the negative one. For example, changing a thought from “I can’t do it,” to “I can do it” won’t work because the second thought is not powerful as the first. It would be better to change the thought to an exciting event such as a vacation, birthday or after school activity such as “I will get ice cream when I get out of school today!”
I go on to tell kids you train your mind just as you would train a puppy. When I first got Walter, he squatted and peed on the floor. I didn’t just watch him and then complain about the smell of urine. I had to train him to go outside to go to the bathroom. He had to learn just as our minds have to learn. When we first begin training our minds, it is much like training a wild, rambunctious puppy. It runs everywhere, doesn’t listen and is hard to discipline. But over time, puppies learn how to behave and so does our mind. It will run away on us sometimes but the more we bring it back to the present moment, back to rational thinking the more it will follow our lead.
The next time your mind runs away from you and creates negative stories that aren’t real, think of a puppy and that puppies don’t know any different at first. They are doing the best they can. Then redirect your mind and move on with your day. Teach this strategy to your kids and do it as well!
Have a great week everyone!