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 words can’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,