By: Marja Ruijterman, colomnist, writer, trainer & coach.
Well, I sometimes thought: ‘if I had known as a child that my thoughts had power, I would have been spared a lot of misery’. I wasn’t taught it at school. My mother was a positive thinker and she was so powerful that I felt small. She didn’t have the skills to teach me how to use thoughts.
I thought of myself as small, a zero and void, and every remark from the teacher or the children was stored in me and made it true for myself, which made me behave towards it.
Suppose they had told me how thoughts work. I wouldn’t have thought of myself as small, I wouldn’t have believed what they told me, and I would have felt much more powerful.
Life has passed and at the age of thirty-three I learned how to use my thoughts. That turned my life upside down, what made me enjoy, learn, discover my talents, and life laughed at me. Since then, I’ve been writing about the power of thought, training and lecturing on it for years.
How can we help children?
First, by helping ourselves. If as a parent, teacher or master you don’t have enough self-confidence then you pass this on to the children. They respond by either adopting the same behaviour or by walking over you.
What I have learned, which is also easy for children to learn, is that every thought does something to your body. When I think, “I don’t feel like it today,” my body weakens immediately. May I ever think about it, that’s not true. As long as we know the consequences of a thought. If you think, “I’m not a good parent.” Your body also slackens and you radiate it. Your child feels that and reacts in his/her own way. Thinking: “Oh, I’m such a great good parent” as a compensation is again exaggerated.
As soon as you think, “What’s a thought that’s of more use to me?” you immediately shoot into a constructive position and feel better. Then you start looking for a thought that will help you.
You can do a test with children. “Let them hold their arm straight ahead. Then you exert a slight pressure on the forearm. Tell them to push your hand up. You do that again and then you say, “Think you can’t do it.” Nine times out of ten, the arm goes down very easily. Then: “think you can do it easily!” They feel more strength and of course they won’t be able to handle an adult’s arm, but you do feel how your child’s arm is stronger. “Do you feel how your strength increases when you think you can do something?”
I often do this exercise with fearful adults and they are always amazed at what a difference in strength one experiences. They then pass it on to their children. Have done it a few times with children and they are more understanding than adults.
A twelve year old boy who was bullied and walked around the schoolyard bent over so as not to be seen, quickly realized. He went to school the next day. Walked upright, thought, “I’m good as I am!” and breathed in and out quietly. He immediately felt the difference and when he was thrown words of contempt, he wouldn’t believe it anymore. Soon the fun was gone for the bullies.
Someone said to me, “It’s your thoughts, so you can choose!” That was a huge eye-opener. Of course I can choose my thoughts that I had never thought about. That’s practice, because my thoughts wandered through me and were usually at the bottom of the list below.
There are five kinds of thoughts:
|Necessary||Thoughts we need to function|
|Positive||Cozy, fine, daydreaming, fantasizing etc.|
|Constructive||Search for Solutions|
|Wasted||Repetitive thoughts, fear of the future, regret of the past and ruminate everything|
|Negative||Everything is heavy, complicated, no one’s virtue, and certainly not you.|
From: ‘Geluk, daar kom ik mijn bed niet voor uit’ by Tijn Touber and Jacqueline Berg.
If we are aware that we are too much in the bottom two with our thoughts, we can think: How many times have I thought this? What have I gained from it? What is the use of it? This last thought immediately brings us into constructive mode and that feels different.
You can also practice this with children. What kind of thought does it feel like? Which thought feels better? Use an example but don’t fill in the answer for the child. Otherwise it is not your own thoughts but yours. Many thoughts that fly through us about ourselves are thoughts or sayings of others. The trick is to formulate your own thoughts. What are your original thoughts? What do you think of yourself? What do you want to contribute to the world? What talents have you discovered?
You can easily discuss this with children as well.
What is important to mention here is that: “I’m gonna get over this!” If something nasty has happened is a golden thought. Everyone processes in their own way and that’s a different story. Crying is good for us and talking about what happened also helps when someone is listening carefully.
If you practice often enough, it becomes second nature. Another tip: If you coach your children too much, they will find it annoying. So coach in moderation. Good luck!
Marja Ruijterman has been a professional trainer for 25 years. She coaches people both on a personal level but also does corporate trainings. Her talent is to help people with improving their communication skills, assertiveness and to become more aware of themselves and their surroundings. For more information please visit: https://www.marjaruijterman.nl