We are not taught how to think: We are taught what to think

Written by Christy Whitman December 6, 2012

Fill in the blanks with these statements:

Money does not grow on ________.

It is better to be safe than __________.

There is no such thing as a free___________.

Don’t play with your ___________. (Okay, what were you thinking? This one is “food”!)

We are not taught as young children, or even as adults, that we can choose our thoughts. We can either think nice thoughts, or we can think mean thoughts. When our children do or say something that is not nice, we need to let them know that they have the choice.

Bad thoughts make us feel bad. Good thoughts make us feel good. You can tell your children to imagine that when we think happy thoughts, little bubbles with happy faces come out of our brains. When we think negative thoughts, little bubbles with frowning faces come out of our brains. These thoughts will lead to how we feel and then determine our mood.

One day, Alex said something that was mean while we were at the dinner table. Alex and Maxim both wanted to sit close to me. As I pulled them close to me, Frederic was alone at the other side of the table. Alex said, “Daddy is alone. No one likes you.”

I immediately went into my teachable moment. I first asked him, “Does that feel good knowing that your comment hurt Daddy?” “No.” “Can you say something nice instead of mean?” Alex then turned to his daddy and said, “I love you, Daddy.”

Whenever he is testing out nice or mean things to say (which they will because that is how they learn) I will ask him, “Is that nice?” “No.” “What can you say that is nice instead?”

I will then ask him to go within and feel for himself when he is saying something mean or saying something nice. We need to have them identify what they say with how they feel. A great way to do this is:

1. Ask them, “How does that feel when you say that?”
2. Ask them, “What is a nicer way of saying that?”

We as parents need to teach them to speak to each other with kind and loving thoughts. If we don’t teach them that they can choose to speak and either be mean or nice, they won’t feel they have the power to choose. When negative thoughts do come into their heads, they won’t know that they have the power to choose.

We need to teach our kids how to think. Not just what to think.

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