When I was in middle school my art teacher taught the class to do pottery. While the other kids were making vases and ashtrays, I decided to replicate the owl statue my mom had in her china hutch. When it came out of the kiln I was so disappointed in myself that it was lopsided and lumpy. I felt like a failure and decided I was no artist. What I wish I would have realized is that I tried something really complicated for my first attempt at pottery and it successfully came out looking like an owl.
As parents, we can’t manage the negative thinking going on in our children’s minds but we can proactively target key beliefs they will most likely face. We can teach them powerful truths so the lies have a lower chance of sticking. Here are the common unhealthy beliefs most kids will encounter.
I am not good enough.
We live in a competitive world filled with opportunities to compare ourselves to others. Kids face this with grades, sports, dance class, the playground, and the lunchroom. Praise your child often for things they do well even if it’s seemingly insignificant things. Tell them what impresses you about them. Help them discover where and how they shine. Brainstorm with them on qualities they have and how to use those qualities for success.
Praise your child often for things they do well even if it’s seemingly insignificant things.
I don’t belong.
Help your child find a sense of belonging in areas outside of school. Help them see a broader scope than just the school environment. Tell them about their grandparents and ancestors. Tell them the story of how their life has impacted you. Encourage them to join clubs or groups outside of the school setting. Volunteer somewhere together.
No one understands me.
A common struggle for a lot of kids is the sense that they are unseen or unknown. As kids grow and become increasingly more independent they struggle with their sense of identity. They often don’t know how they feel inside and can express these feelings in unbecoming ways. Avoid using statements that define who they are based on their behavior. Ask more questions about why they’re acting out in certain ways. Ask them about their day. Really listen to them when they chatter on about things that seem insignificant to you.
Everyone else has it better than me.
It’s easy to make assumptions about others with limited information. Kids can conclude from the public presentation of other kids through social media as being better than it is in reality. Talk to them about how misrepresentative social media can be. What a person posts on Instagram or Facebook isn’t a complete picture of their life. Contemplate together about all the good things in your child’s life.
I’m the problem.
It’s easy to point blame at ourselves when things aren’t going well. Kids are no exception. In fact, kids will often come to the unhealthy conclusion that they are to blame. When the family faces challenges, kids need to be reassured that you are confident of a good outcome and that they are safe. If you see that your child is taking on responsibility for something too big for them to carry reassure them that you have it handled and they aren’t responsible for the solutions.
Which one of these beliefs can you help your child overcome?