Mindset for Kids

Mindset if For Kids Too!

Could you imagine who you would be if you were taught the power of positive thinking when you were a kid? What if you were rewarded for empowered thinking the same way you were rewarded for good behavior and good grades? And, what if you were given negative consequences for dis-empowered thinking just like unacceptable behavior and grades? Who would you be if empowered thinking had been hard wired into your way of being at a young age?

mindset, positive thinking, self mastery, personal development, kids

Mindset is not just for adults!

Let’s give the future generation a head start by teaching them now how to master their minds. It begins with you! First, walk the talk. Be sure that you are modeling each step so that the expectations are very clear for your kids or students. Simply think out loud whenever you have a positive or negative thought. Say what you are thinking to model bringing awareness to your mindset and then continue speaking your thoughts as you shift to more positive, empowering self-talk.

Mindset Rules

First, set the rules. All households and schools have set rules for behavior and clear consequences when the rules are broken. As we expand into a more aware experience of our world, we can expand these expectations, or rules, to our mindset as well. You need to be very clear on what is acceptable and what is not. Tell your kids or students that it is not okay to say “I can’t” or “I never”. Then give them acceptable statements like “I can ask for help” or “what can I do about this?” etc.

Mindset Consequences

Lastly, give your kids clear consequences for any negative, dis-empowering mindset, like self-talk or giving up. My favorites are include extra chores and pull-ups or push-ups. And, I explain the chores by saying that perhaps they need more responsibility to see that they are able to figure things out and get things done. I explain the physical consequence by saying that maybe strengthen the body will help strengthen the mind.

Resulting Mindset

Honestly, if you implement mindset rules and consequences, your kids or students will very quickly get the message that it’s not okay to have limited, dis-empowered thinking. You will see them quickly shift their mindset into a more empowered, positive approach. This is amazing to watch, and it changes the entire mood of the room. Kids become problem solvers, looking for ways to make things work and ask for help when they can’t figure things out. This increases their self-esteem, as well as, their success in what they are doing, because they don’t just give up.

Let’s help our kids and students develop a mindset that will empower them and set them up for a successful future!

If you’d like a great book for kids on mindset, try this awesome kid’s picture book My Brain is a Thinking Machine. In a fun social story, kids learn how to pay attention to the good thoughts and what to do with the rest.

Lots of Light,

Candice T. Aguirre

Big Emotions & Kids

Big Emotions Can Be Scary!

Big-Emotions blog

What Do You Do When Your Kid Has Big Emotions?

Big Emotions are intense and scary for anyone… your body is out of control including your hormones and neurotransmitters. Not only are big emotions scary for the person having them, they can scare those around you. Anyone can struggle when they were not taught how to handle big emotions. Your job as a parent is to recognize and understand your own big emotions, learn to deal with them in a healthy way… and then teach your child to do the same.

Steps to Handling BIG EMOTIONS – (When everyone’s calm)

  1. Discuss what BIG EMOTIONS are: Anger, Sadness, Frustration, Overwhelm, etc.
  2. Discuss your experiences with BIG EMOTIONS and how everyone has them.
  3. Make a list with your kid of how to handle BIG EMOTIONS in a healthy way.  (take a walk, say how you feel, go to a quite place, get some fresh air, breathe, get a drink of water, get under a heavy blanket, cuddle with loved one…etc.)
  4. Set Boundaries. Make sure it’s clear that it’s never okay to hurt anyone or anything when angry. Discuss how people do and say things they don’t mean when they are angry, and then they often regret it.
  5. Role Play. Take turns and try on some big emotions and handling them in a healthy way.  My favorites are…
    • BIG EMOTION: Anger – getting outside for some fresh air and a walk
    • BIG EMOTION: Sadness- going to a quiet place, under a heavy blanket, and a cuddle.
  6. Think out loud while role-playing and during the day so that your kids can hear what you are thinking as you handle your emotions. “Wow, I’m so mad. I forgot the tickets. I need to take a few breaths… just give me a moment to calm down… maybe a walk too… ”  The more your child hears your inner dialogue the more it’ll become theirs.

Steps to Handling BIG EMOTIONS – (When they are happening)

  1. Recognize big emotion and if needed, set boundaries.  Ex.  “I can see you are very angry, I will talk to you when you are calm.”  (or “no, it’s not okay to hit. First calm down, then you will have my full attention.”)
  2. Make sure they are safe until calm… even if it takes 45 minutes. Do NOT give them attention until they have calmed down. Do NOT yell at them. Do NOT scare them. They are already scared… just give them space to calm down.
  3. Once calm, praise them for calming themselves down, even if it took an hour. Then help them clean up as you talk about big emotions. (see “Steps to handling big emotions – when everyone’s calm”… above)
  4. If your child gets as angry as my 6-year-old, you may need to take a moment for yourself to get some fresh air, listen to some soothing music, or even get a baby sitter for a few hours to recover.
  5. Do NOT punish your kids once they have calmed down. They need praise for calming down and encouragement that they can probably calm down even quicker next time.

*my son (age 6) can get stuck in a meltdown/violent attack, and I want to share a quick story.  Yesterday on a drive home, my son started to melt down, because I said no to going on a walk. As I drove, he hurled a large blue ice block at my face, then a second one, also a direct hit. I quickly pulled the car over, and I was desperate to calm him down. After what seemed forever as my face and ear throbbed in pain…  I tried repeating “I love you, I love you, you are safe” as I blocked his hits and tried to keep him out of the front seat… and my son went from being violent towards me to weeping on the floor. Meeting his anger and violence with love quickly melted his aggression… it was really amazing to witness. In the future, I will be experimenting with this and also be sure to NOT keep large heavy objects next to him in the back seat of the car.

What everyone needs to know about BIG EMOTIONS

  1. Big Emotions are NOT bad. Emotions are normal, and they are your body/mind’s way of communicating something.
  2. Everyone has BIG EMOTIONS.
  3. Feelings do NOT need limits and boundaries…. but behavior definitely does.
  4. NOT everyone deals with them in a health way. Even adults develop unhealthy coping strategies like comfort eating, drinking, smoking, etc.
  5. It takes practice. Practice when you are calm and when you are not calm.
  6. The more you model good coping strategies for BIG EMOTIONS, the better your kids can learn from your example.

Be gentle with yourself and your kids as you learn to step into a deeper place of feeling and managing those BIG EMOTIONS. You CAN do this!

Lots of Light,

Candice

Candice T. Aguirre is the author of Yawning Yawning, Time for Bed a magical nighttime social story sharing love and values while teaching the bedtime routine. Read or sing to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star and insert your own values and bits of wisdom along the way. A great way to make a big impression on your children at a very magical time… that is… right as they relax to fall asleep and their brain waves change, allowing them to absorb what you tell them on a very deep level for learning that lasts.

Saying Goodbye to Unwanted Behavior

Had Enough of an Inappropriate Behavior?

kid behind desk

This Behavior Has Got to Stop!

Ok, it’s no secret that I reached the point where I had do something to help my son understand that his behavior is NOT appropriate. Every time we entered the chiropractor’s office, my son would crawl on the floor, hiding, then making loud non-nonsensical vocalizations that were just to make noise. He would continue to try to play a game of peek-a-boo with the receptionist, by jumping into the air and then back down to the ground, hitting and kicking the desk and making more sounds. No actual words actually came out of his mouth. He would pay no attention to the others in the office, often getting in their way and/or bumping them too. My son is almost six, so this behavior is NOT appropriate. And, no matter how much I tried to get him to stand up and say “Hello” as we entered, he would not do it.

AH – HA Moment

This was not the first time my son had unexpected behavior. I had already started listening to parenting materials, reading books & blogs, and even taking classes. What I’m going to share with you is something I learned along the way, blending information from it all. I did have an ah-ha moment in an ABA class, which is all about methods to teach appropriate behavior and reduce inappropriate behavior, specifically to kids on the spectrum. That day during class, I created my PLAN. In all the visits to the chiropractors office, I just assumed my son would know to walk in nicely, say hello and not make a scene. But, this is not the case. My son needed massive amounts of prepping, reinforcement and practice.  The appropriate behavior would need to be broken down into steps and pretaught to him. Additionally, he was obviously needing some playfulness, so I took that into consideration when I made my plan. I also realized that his inappropriate behavior was also actually being reinforced… as the receptionist would smile warmly and laugh and giggle at him. She was not aware he was not in control of himself or had the struggles he does, so she just though he was playing a game with her. Anyway, I also realized that if I don’t teach my son exactly what to do in new situations, then any behavior is fair game.

MY PLAN – Behavior Extinction

First, I created a social story with several steps and pictures that explained exactly what the “expected” behavior was. I reviewed it with him many times and told him he would get a star for every step. Then, we practiced it 10 times in one afternoon…. that is, I entered the office with him 10 times and supported him through each of the steps, giving him stars along the way. Steps included things like ‘stand up, make “eye contact” and say “hello”‘. I also talked to the receptionist about our plan and got her on board with it. Now, weeks later, I still gently prep him with some verbal reminders on the way to the front door, and I am there for support if he forgets the next step or to make eye contact or to answer a question. I also added a playful element to replace the peek-a-boo with the receptionist. I talked to him about it first. Then to “practice”, I hid 2 small objects in the car near his seat for him to find. They were peeking out from behind things like the seat belt or the car seat. Then, I told him I would do this before I picked him up from school, so he could find them when he gets in the car. I finished it with reminding him the office is not a place to play, and that we need to enter appropriately with the “expected” behavior we had discussed. Even if I had taught a replacement behavior, it may not have been so successful if I didn’t meet his motivation of playfulness and peek-a-boo with the receptionist.

  1. Create a Social Story with pictures and words of every step
  2. Review with Child Beforehand
  3. Lots of Repeated Supported Practice and Reward Every Step (I gave a star)
  4. Replace the motivation/meet their needs another way (peek a boo in the car instead of the office)
  5. Less Supported Practice ongoing as needed and fade out rewards

Now that this behavior is basically extinct, I’m focusing on the next biggest challenging behavior. I am so grateful for all the tools I’ve learned in all the classes I’ve been taking, along with all my teacher training. Parenting a kid with a strong will and unique needs is not a walk in the park. Best of luck to you.

Lots of Light, Candice.

How to Change Any Behavior

Kids are Talking… not misbehaving!

behavior challenges, behavior as communication, anger, misbehavior,

ADULTS – STOP YELLING, START LISTENING…

If one thing can raise our blood pressure or make steam come out of our ears as parents and/or teachers, it’s unwanted and unexpected behaviors. We’ve all got that in common, as kids come prewired with a lot of behaviors. The thing is, there’s a key piece of information that we have not been given… but it’s the most important thing you need to know as a parent and/or teacher. That is this: Behavior is NOT a discipline problem, it’s actually communication. Yes, the kids around you are speaking! They are scared, upset, worried, anxious, insecure, tired, sad, angry, happy, blood sugar is off, etc… First thing is to realize that behavior is a means of communication, not a lack of obedience. Let go of the power struggles and LISTEN!

DECODING BEHAVIOR 101

Don’t get mad for behavior… acknowledge it and talk to your kids. “Hey, I can see you’re really upset, what’s going on?” Remember, it’s okay that your kids get upset. It’s actually very normal and all people do. Now is the time to teach them it’s okay to talk about what is making them upset, and show them they can trust the people in their life to help.

QUICK BEHAVIOR STORY

My 5 year old son was acting out after school, and it got worse as the week went on. He was irritable, angry, short, and almost impossible when we got home. I finally talked to him. He has some expressive language deficits among other needs, so it was not easy…. but I finally understood from him that he was upset that all the other kids got to eat a treat for a birthday, but he didn’t. See, I had asked the teachers to not feed him outside food with a list of ingredients I wanted him to avoid, like food coloring, sugar, etc. My hope was to help control some of his ongoing struggles. When I realized how much pain the restricted diet was causing and even potential emotional damage, I let it go. He immediately shifted, and I was shocked at this new happier kid. We eat very healthy at home, and he still makes healthy choices, but for my family, lifting the diet restrictions in the classroom was the right choice. My son didn’t want to feel even more different and was so happy to just fit in. He has no allergies, so this was an option for us. Other ways to modify this if your child does have allergies would be to find a sweet treat that is acceptable to you and your child. Both of you agree ahead of time that this will be the treat in the classroom and your child will be better prepared when they don’t get what the other kids get.

CHANGE ANY BEHAVIOR

The difficulty of changing any behavior will vary for every kid and every situation. Some kids and/or situations will require just a conversation or some observation to understand what they were trying to say with their behavior. And, other kids and/or situations may need to be taught specifically what the desired behavior is. In fact, research says, if you want to change any behavior, you’ve got to TEACH A REPLACEMENT BEHAVIOR. You can really change any behavior; yes it’s possible! You can’t just say, “No, don’t do this/that”… you’ve got to actually teach what the “expected” and/or appropriate behavior is and give positive reinforcement. With my kid, when I really want to put an inappropriate behavior on extinction, I will create a social story about the expected behavior, walk him through every step of the right behavior, then use some repetition to practice it, rewarding him with every step (we use stars). We do this over and over and over until it’s muscle memory to do the “expected” behavior. Read more about it here…

What are some behaviors you would like to change with your kids? Have you tried talking to them? Have you taught a replacement behavior? Let’s talk about it.

Lots of Light, Candice.