I thought that as parents, making a list of thoughts and beliefs about kids is highly appropriate, because reading such a list can be a wonderful reflection on our parenting and a chance to do things even better.
In my parenting workshops, where parents get the tools to raise happy kids, we take stock of our beliefs to find empowering or limiting beliefs. It is amazing for people to discover how closely their beliefs about parenting or about kids match the challenges and the happy experiences in their life. Although we believe in things due to our life experiences, once we have those beliefs, they start to drive our experiences instead.
Buddha has said this beautifully, "All that we are is the result of what we have thought". So if you are a confident parent, it is a result of what you have in your mind and if you are not confident in your parenting, you can be, just change your thoughts.
This activity of making a list of 100 beliefs you have about kids has three parts:
- Writing down every association you have with parenting and/or kids. Remember, every thought you have is nothing but a belief.
- Examining whether each belief leads you to better parenting or not, meaning, are they empowering or limiting beliefs?
- Re-writing the beliefs that were not good for you to hold and are the cause of your parenting challenges.
How to list 100 beliefs about kids
- At first, make the list without any filters. It is better to know what you face and change it than to pretend you are not thinking like that.
- Do not limit yourself to 100. You probably have thousands of beliefs about kids and parenting, so keep writing them down.
- If you have some difficulties writing, record yourself and then capture your beliefs from the recording. If you need to talk about it, find someone who is willing to join in with you and make a list of their beliefs too. Everything you say is just a belief anyway.
- Do not be judgmental towards yourself when you come up with beliefs you are not happy to have. You have a choice to change it any time. Always focus on moving forward.
- Notice when the beliefs are not yours. You may say them regularly, but you do not believe in them. It is amazing how similar our beliefs are to our parents', only they lived in a different era without the easy communication and the hurried lifestyle. We obviously take some wisdom from them, but not all their beliefs can be relevant to our time. When you get to the changing stage, get rid of beliefs that are not relevant for your life.
- Beliefs about kids can come from many different sources. Sometimes, thinking about the sources can trigger more thoughts. For example, our own parents are a big source of many of our beliefs. If we think about our parents, we can come up with a huge list of 100 beliefs easily. Other sources of beliefs are teachers, school, family members, past experiences, friends, the culture we live in, the groups we feel part of, the media and, as funny as this may seem, some beliefs are created in our own imagination and it is hard to pin point their exact source.
- When you are done, leave your list for a while before examining each belief to see if it is limiting or empowering. Sometime, a negative belief can give you lots of power, so do not automatically eliminate "negative" beliefs or accept "positive" ones. For example, "Drugs are bad" is a negative belief about drugs, but it can empower you to focus on a healthy, responsible lifestyle for your kids. Similarly, the belief "Hitting my kids is bad" may cause you to focus on other parenting methods and eventually build a stronger relationship with your kids. So ask yourself, "If I believe in this, will it make me a better parent?" and only you know the answer.
Here are the topics you can write about to uncover your beliefs regarding kids. If you write 2-3 beliefs for each topic, you will have plenty to work with.
- Babies - what age to have them, how hard it is, sleep and babies, money and babies, career and babies, babies and health, immunize or not, putting sugar in their drinking water, pacifier or not, breastfeeding or formula, how often, how long, let them sleep in your bed or not?
- Boys and Girls - what do you think about boys and girls, what would you rather have and why? What do you think about your son or daughter's color of clothes? Which toys are suitable for boys, which one for girls? What do you think about your daughter doing sports wearing shorts or miniskirts? What do you think about your son cooking, shaving or having an earring? What do you think about your daughter going on a diet or being overweight? What about your son and academic achievements and expectations for the future?
- Friends - how many of them you want for your kids, where from, what kind, what do you think about trusting friends, at which age, what do you think about sleeping over, about parties and friends and ruining your house and your budget, name 3 kinds of friends you do not want for your kids and why, what age they can have a boyfriend or a girlfriend, what you think about friends and their influence on your kids.
- School - what do you think about the importance of school? Why? Which teachers do you like/hate? What do you think about homework, exams and grade, report cards, awards, studying on the weekend, what subjects are more important, sport, respect, uniform and how schools should handle behavior management. What do you wish school would do differently? Private or public school, tutoring, leaving school early, working and studying during high school, giving kids rewards for good grades, participating in school functions, joining the school council or the parents' association, home schooling, skills learned or not learned at school.
- Siblings - What do you think about siblings, about the right age difference between them, problems due of age difference, sibling rivalry, jealousy, comparing kids, motivating kids to be like their siblings, sharing rooms, privacy and siblings, sharing clothes and sharing toys. When your kids fight, should you interfere or not? When? What is your philosophy about responsibilities for younger and older siblings?
- Exposure to Media - what do you think your kids should see on TV? Why? At what age? Why? When should you start buying them magazines? Which ones? How do you treat the rating of the movies they watch? Do you watch with your kids? Until what age? What do you think of adult themes or horror movies and kids? What is the best way to monitor watching too much TV? How much is too much?
- Health - how to keep kids healthy? What is a healthy kid? What do you think of junk food, doctors and medication for kids? What to do when your kids are sick? School and sickness? Vitamins? Natural medicine?
- Behavior management - what do you think is good behavior management? Punishment rules? Behavior problems? Which parent is best to do it, at what age, what is suitable for boys and what for girls? What do you think about money and punishment, rewards and behavior or threats that work and those that do not?
If you answer most of the questions here, you should already have 100 beliefs, but keep going as far as you can.
When you are done, go over your beliefs and ask, "If I believe in this, will it make me a better parent?" If the answer is "No" for any belief, change it. You can always use my list next week to get some ideas to change them to empowering beliefs.
Happy thoughts about kids,
This post is part of the series Make a List:
- Make a list: List Making
- Make a list: About Myself
- Make a list: Friends and Friendships
- Make a list: My Lifetime
- Make a list: Things I am Happy about
- Make a list: Childhood Memories
- Make a list: Ways to say “I love you!”
- Make a list: What I like about me
- Make a list: Things to ask for my birthday
- Make a list: Improve My Life
- Make a list: Things to tell my parents
- Make a list: Beliefs about Money
- Make a list: Feelings I Want to Feel
- Make a list: If I Could Live Forever
- Make a list: Beliefs about Kids
- Make a list: Beliefs about Kids cont.
- Make a list: Events that have shaped my life
- Make a list: Ways to be kind
- Make a list: Be More Productive
- Make a list: Mistakes (and what I can learn from them)
- Make a list: Expectations
- Make a list: Beliefs about Traveling
- Make a list: Rules I Follow
- Make a list: Good Parenting Qualities
- Make a list: Excuses
- Make a list: Quotes to live by
- Make a list: How to use my time better
- Make a list: If I were Santa Claus
- Make a list: If I had one year to live
- Make a list: Things that Make Me Happy
- Make a list: Movies I loved
- Make a List: My Fears
- Make a List: Find your Happy-ism
- Make a List: Inspiring People
- Make a List: Books that have changed my life
- Make a list: Inspiring Movies