By Jess Burnett Founder of Mind Traction, Mum of 3 and Secondary School teacher
Are you unknowingly limiting your child’s potential?
I have yet to meet a parent who will stand up and say that they don’t care what their child’s future looks like and I don’t know a parent who is content raising a child who quits when things get tough. The reason for this is nature. It is because regardless of your childhood experiences, background and mindset, once you become a parent, human programming activates and you naturally want the best for your child, no matter what.
Every parent wants their child to be motivated, driven and inspired. We all want our children to work hard, achieve their goals, and live their best life. We want them to live happy and fulfilled. But, did you know that through your daily actions and interactions you could be unknowingly limiting your child’s potential, impacting their subconscious mind and ultimately restricting their future success? If you are making these five simple mistakes, then you need to take action and stop right now.
In the essence of full disclosure, I have been guilty of ALL these things. When I had my first child, it was all about survival. I spent my days dreaming about my next shower! I certainly was not thinking about how my words and actions were impacting my baby’s future.
However, once I discovered these five things, the destruction I was causing became apparent, and I knew that I had to take action to develop my parenting skills immediately. After all, I, like you, had dreamed of my child striding through life, setting goals, working hard and achieving all she set her mind to.
I did not want my child to be another disengaged statistic of failure.
Here are the five mistakes you need to stop making today.
Mistake 1: Showering your child in praise – Specifically, person praise.
Showering your child in love is one thing, but continually telling them that they are clever, smart and talented, is damaging. If you are guilty of this, you need to consider the impact.
I am not saying that you should never praise your child. I want you to praise your child, but you need to praise their process. I want you to praise their effort, persistence, and determination. Praise your child for their commitment and their hard work. Praise them for their problem-solving strategies.
If you choose to ignore my advice and maintain person praise, you are fixing your child’s mindset into a state which believes that they are good at certain things and not good at others. You are sending a message that their ability is fixed, and they shouldn’t even bother trying. You are discouraging them from wanting to step outside of their comfort zone and try new things, and you are cultivating fear—specifically a fear of failure and a fear of being judged by others.
Mistake 2: Making limiting statements about yourself.
Your child is a sponge. They absorb everything you do and everything you say (yes, even when you think they are not listening and despite needing to give them the same simple instruction multiple times!). If you are making limiting statements about yourself, you are damaging your child’s self-belief. I know you are not speaking directly to your child and your comments are not about your child, but you are their role model.
If you allow yourself to make limiting statements about your image, physical ability, intelligence, or capacity to try something new, your child is absorbing this message. They are subconsciously learning that they, too, should judge themselves and fear the judgement of others.
Avoid comparing yourself to others and refrain from negative ‘I’ statements.
Mistake 3: Letting your child quit and give up.
Whether it is a new sport they begged so desperately to play (and you probably paid big money for!), or merely a craft activity they pleaded to do. If you let your child quit that task when it all gets too tough, then you are training them to be a quitter for the rest of their life.
Teach your child that hard work and determination are respected and that they must see out their commitments. They may not be destined for tennis stardom or theatre stage, but by ensuring they see out the term or the season they committed to, you are teaching them solid life skills and cultivating a mindset that will allow them to achieve bigger and better things.
When your child quits something once, it creates a pathway in their brain that enables them to do it repeatedly. Soon, quitting becomes your child’s routine, and they won’t even think twice about bailing every time things get complicated in life.
Mistake 4: Preventing independence and restricting autonomy
Not allowing your child to make choices prevents their ability to build confidence, self-sufficiency and independence. As parents, we are often in a hurry and want to avoid a mess (if we can) or do things in a certain way. So, we can often be guilty of jumping in, taking over and completing the task for our child.
Jumping in sends your child a message that we lack confidence in their abilities, that they aren’t capable, or they aren’t good enough. When this happens regularly (as it often does because life is busy!), your child’s subconscious mind is impacted. They will lose self-belief in their abilities and will become reliant on other people. They will avoid situations where they might need to express independence, and this learned fear of disappointing others will carry them through life.
Mistake 5: Neglecting yourself.
Self-care is an essential survival skill. As parents, we often feel completely guilty about allowing ourselves time-out to engage in self-care. I am utterly guilty of this. I know that I need ‘me’ time, and often my mind, body and soul are screaming out for it, but I fall into the trap of telling myself that I can’t take time because I have a thousand things to get done and don’t want to lose quality time with my children.
However, three kids later, I have learnt that if you allow yourself time to repair, replenish and rejuvenate, you return a far better parent. It boosts your zest for life, passion for parenting, engagement, and focus levels. It also teaches your child that looking after yourself is vital.
Have you ever caught a plane? What do they tell you during the safety demonstration? Administer your oxygen mask before you assist someone else with theirs (your children included!). Why? Because you can’t help another person (in this case, raise your child to reach their full potential) if you haven’t looked after yourself first.
Take Action Now.
So there you have it, five simple mistakes parents make, which can destroy a child’s ability to reach their true potential. You have probably already made at least one of these mistakes today. But don’t feel guilty, we’ve all been there!
When I discovered these five simple switches that I could make in my everyday language, interactions and experiences with my kids, it seriously changed our world. Okay, well, maybe it didn’t change our world, but it certainly changed our children’s attitudes, positivity and engagement. It flipped their mindset.
You can flip your child’s mindset too.
If you want your child to cultivate a growth mindset and have both the skillset and toolset to strive for their goals and live the life of their dreams, then you need to take action today. You need to stop making these five mistakes immediately and instead:
- Focus your praise on the process;
- Use intentional positive language;
- Encourage persistence and perseverance;
- Promote independence; and
- Take care of yourself;
If you make these simple changes to your every day, you will be well on your way to raising a child who is motivated, driven and inspired to succeed. Heck, you might even improve YOUR mindset along the way!
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