This Sunday on Halloween I watched with amazement how my three lovely girls were transformed in front of my very eyes to an ice princess, a bride and a soccer monster. What hit me was that the transformation went beyond their costumes and into their behaviour. Each one of them fully incorporated their character fully and completely. This experience demonstrated that we all, adults and children alike, possess the ability to voluntarily enter a different state of mind as we so choose.
The ability to choose your state of mind, the ability to decide: now I am going to be happy, calm, determined and so on, is an important and accessible tool.
We can all do it and the way to introduce this concept to our kids is through the use of metaphors and role modeling.
Step 1: Think about three states of mind in which would like your child to be more often.
Step 2: Talk to your child and come up with a metaphor, an image or a role model that is a vision of this state of mind. For example, happy can be a big yellow smiley face; calm can be your child as she practices yoga and so on.
Step 3: Rehearse with your child the different states of mind and strengthen the connection between the state of mind and its metaphor. (What you are doing is creating a short cut to the brain so once you bring up the metaphor the brain brings up the feeling associated with it).
Step 4: Practice with your child. Explain to her that when you see that she is in a less resourceful state of mind (it can be anger, frustration etc…) you are going to remind her to enter the ‘happiness’ state of mind by bringing up the yellow smile and putting it on like a Halloween costume. After a while your child will do it automatically.
This chameleon attribute that we all possess will support your child in having resourceful and satisfying states of mind. The good news is, you can use that too!