Why a ‘can-do’ attitude is important for our children’s positive outlook

Conscious Parenting

“Whether you believe that you can, or you can’t, you’re right” is a Henry Ford quote. This week I was reminded of it by an inspirational speaker called Professor Damien Hughes, sports psychologist to the talented and famous and author of books like ‘Liquid Thinking’ and ‘How to think like Sir Alan Ferguson’. He was speaking at a Premier Education Group conference I attended, and his emphasis was on how to inspire kids. Professionally as a yoga teacher of many Pre and Postnatal mums, this is super interesting to me. Personally, this is close to my heart, I’m a mum. me-and-kids-april-2011-lovely-pic

Conscious parenting is a phrase I’m not sure has really been embraced yet, but I think it should. Conscious parenting is about being mindful of your behaviour and engaging with your child as an individual, it’s not a set of rules, but is rather a set of beliefs about what children need to develop and thrive. As parents it engages our emotional intelligence, rather than always resorting to punitive methods. It’s about building positive messages and encouragements. And I believe this has a huge influence on believing ‘you can’.

There is no such word as can’t

I was brought up with “there’s no such word as can’t”. My mum, mother of five, a non-earner, a non-driver understood she had minimised her freedom, and I think she wanted something different for me. She helped me believe I could do anything, and although she wasn’t great at inspiring me herself through her own actions – my mum rarely did anything outside of the house – she told me over and over that I could achieve anything I put my mind to, and I must of listened, because I was the first in our family to study a degree, I got a pretty high powered TV job, and I travelled the world. Aside from a bungee jump or suchlike, (we all have our weakness) I am pretty much a can-do type of girl.

Professor Damien Hughes talked about ‘learned helplessness’, where we learn that we can’t do something through other’s responses and we just give up. For all of us the thresholds are different, some giving up much regularly and much more easily than others. He explained how children want to please us and get upset, shameful, unhappy or even angry when they ‘cant’, that this response is not ‘naughty’ it is part of their emotional development. He suggests that all we really need to get them to understand is that they can’t do it ‘yet’. He also explained how important positive messages to our children are. Orders like ‘don’t’, ‘stop’, ‘be quiet’, as such are normal ‘short-hands’, (particularly perhaps towards the end of the school holidays) but we must remember to balance it with the positive, ideally we need 6 positives to balance just 1 negative! Wouldn’t it be interesting to keep a tally on that for a day…

I don’t believe in perfect parents, unfortunately I am certainly not one, but so long as we are ‘works in progress’, mindful, conscious, aware of the messages we are feeding our kids which will inevitably influence their self love and worth and enable them to be those who ‘can’, or those who ‘can’t’. If you’ve lost your rag today, and now you’re feeling self-blame, remember that’s not useful either, instead filter a reminder of the good stuff, sit down with them, talk about something cool together and give them a cuddle. That’s all they need to balance it up…