1. THEY ARE LOVED, LOVABLE AND LOVING
More important than getting our children to make good grades, or to be polite, or to follow our instructions, is to cause them to feel and know that their natural state is to be loved, loving and lovable. Then they won’t need others to convince them that they’re worthwhile, they’ll feel more stable and competent when meeting challenges, and they’ll have something valuable to give the world.
2. THEY ARE INHERENTLY GOOD
Our lives are full and fast, and our kids’ curiosity and pace can slow us down and sometimes even get in our way. And in those moments, it’s still our job to help them feel good about themselves.
They’re born believing in themselves, and they naturally approach life with gusto and joy. And if we keep affirming that they’re inherently good, they won’t condemn themselves when they make mistakes, and they’ll trust their ability to make decisions.
My son canceled his engagement two months before his wedding. Our family didn’t see it coming, so we were all surprised. There was a tendency, almost a kneejerk reaction, to judge and criticize him. Instead, I paid for the dress and stayed supportive of both of them. He told me that he just knew it wasn’t going to work out and that they would end up divorcing. Talking together and exploring his motivations helped me support him unconditionally.
As our kids feel appreciated, they won’t forget their value. And their expectations of life will be high, they’ll attract people who treat them well, and the quality of their lives will be rich.
3. THEY DESERVE THE BEST FROM LIFE
We sometimes withhold our attention and approval from our kids when they don’t do what we want them to do, believing that making them feel guilty will make them better people. It’s not true.
Instead, it makes them fearful of not being able to get what they need in life. And three things happen. They feel compelled to replace what they want with what others want, in order to get the attention and approval they need. They make others’ opinions more important than what they think and feel about themselves. And they develop fear-based self-talk that says: “I’m not good enough. I don’t deserve all the good stuff others have. I’m afraid.”
That’s why it’s important that we not withdraw our energy from our children when we discipline them. They need to trust that life will treat them well, and they learn that from us treating them well.
My son took part in a Napoleon Hill Mastermind Group, and his first assignment was to successfully precipitate something within a week. So he decided to precipitate $5. Toward the end of the week, the money hadn’t shown up. So Ron said to him, “Let’s take a walk.” And as they walked down our street, my son found a $5 bill on the ground, but only after Ron got him to walk past it four times.
One of the best gifts we can give our children is a belief that, “Life loves me, and it will turn out well for me.”
One fall, my son put a new surfboard on layaway, feeling certain that he would have it in time for Christmas. He spent months raising money and making payments, growing more and more excited with every dollar he earned. Late in the afternoon on Christmas Eve, he got a phone call from the surf shop. They wanted to know: “Aren’t you coming down to pick up the board so you’ll have it Christmas morning?” He reminded them that he still owed quite a bit, but he was sure he’d be able to get it soon. Then they told him that the balance was zero. A secret-Santa – we still don’t know who it was – had come in and paid it off for him. And our whole family had a moment of real magic!
4. THEY HAVE A SOURCE OF GUIDANCE WITHIN
Our children have their own paths, and we’ll need to accept that they may not strive for what society believes is important, or even what we believe is important. And other adults may judge us even more than they judge our kids by whether they follow accepted standards.
And then we’ll need to ask ourselves, “Do I want a well-behaved child or a happy child?”
Children who are independent and even rebellious, who are joyous freethinkers, are usually creatively resourceful later in life. So what source of guidance should we advise our kids to listen to? We all have an innate capacity to know what’s good for us. Especially children, before their adults begin telling them to look for external answers rather than listen to their intuition and imagination.
My son suffered with a herniated disc for several months, which was hard on his whole family. Everything fell on my daughter-in-law’s shoulders, and my granddaughter worried whether her daddy would get well. While they waited for his surgery, my granddaughter found a unique way to soothe herself. She constantly carried around his copy of a book on holistic health, even sleeping with it at night. She told me that holding the book kept her daddy safe and helped her to not be afraid. And when his surgery was successful, she put the book away on his bookshelf.
Inner guidance comes in many forms, including ideas, feelings, hunches, impressions, insights and dreams. And it’s a wise person who knows how to consciously listen inside for guidance concerning how to relate, what action to take and what words to say.
If we’ll encourage our kids to go inside for their answers, they’ll discover for themselves what choices are effective and what works in life. Sure, they may suffer some challenging consequences along the way. But our children don’t learn from our words. They learn from their experiences how to make wise decisions next time.
Our children need to know how to listen inside for their intuitive intelligence, and how to interpret the information they receive in ways that are useful. To help them with that, we may need to let go our beliefs that say, “I need to figure everything out through logical thinking,” so we can open to the natural intelligence inside ourselves.
It means helping our kids to trust their intuition, and to heed their first spontaneous response instead of being afraid to make a mistake. So they’ll need to make a decision ahead of time that it’s all right to make mistakes. It means taking responsibility for decisions, which results in confidence.
My son spent a summer raising money to make a cross-country trip to visit friends. He worked odd jobs, including cutting lawns in our neighborhood. One day he cut a lawn on our street, but it was the wrong yard. The owner believed my son should learn a lesson, so he wouldn’t pay for the cut grass. Plus, the right lawn still had to be cut. It was a pretty lousy day in the grass-cutting business. But he managed to not beat himself up, and we laughed about it later.
Being willing to take a risk and have an experience gives us the ability to transcend any power that the experience has to hurt us. And not being afraid to make mistakes deprives a mistake of its power to have control over us. It’s a great tool for helping children go through life without a fear of living.
By asking relevant questions inside themselves and then expecting and recognizing answers, our children can learn to request and immediately receive answers. And with steady practice, they can build a functioning bridge between their conscious awareness and their intuitive intelligence.
5. THEIR BODIES ARE AMAZING AND BEAUTIFUL
When my sons were babies, I put their photos at eye level for them, right in their cribs. And I always kept mirrors in their rooms. I wanted them to be familiar and comfortable and even adoring of their images, before society could begin to tell them that they were unacceptable in any way.
Our children will need a strong sense of confidence, self‑worth, self-respect and self-love, to have the inner strength to be a leader in a peer group rather than a victim of peer pressure.
And of course, we’ll need to live it ourselves, since they’re listening to our self-beliefs more than our words.
Our bodies need love. And we need to look at ourselves and say, “You’re doing a great job for me. Thank you!”
Every human body is a living, functioning miracle. And we need to feel good about the miracle we’re walking around in, without comparing it to others, which leads to negative self-talk. And when we feel positive about our bodies, our kids will, too.
Deciding to feel positive about our bodies doesn’t mean blind acceptance without concern for good health. But it’s not possible to beat ourselves up into being healthy.
So the first step in a supportive lifestyle is to be kind to ourselves. That means accepting our bodies exactly as they are and giving them the love and affection they need.
6. THEY CAN CHOOSE HOW TO FEEL
Every day, we’re making a statement to our children, “This is how the adult world works.” And they’ll grow into adulthood thinking, “This is how it is, and this is how I’m supposed to react.”
So it won’t work to let our kids see us worrying about money and security and the future. If we want them to feel stable and peaceful, we’ll need to demonstrate that we can choose to feel all right, even when life is messy.
If we’re not afraid of the world, and we’re not looking at it through a negative lens, our kids have a good foundation for an enjoyable life. So it’s important, for them and for us, to not take life too seriously and to make it fun.
I practiced “applied kinesiology” on my sons when they were small, including muscle testing and “zipping up their auras.” I asked them to extend their arms parallel to the floor, placed my index finger on their wrists, asked them to think of something they felt happy about, and then pressed down on their arms to see how strong they were. Then I did it a second time, asking them to think of something that caused them to have a bad feeling, and their arms were always weaker.
When they were back to happy thoughts and their arms were strong again, I grabbed an imaginary zipper at their toes and pulled it up to the top of their heads, sealing a protective bubble around them. And then I herded them out the door. Maybe goofy, but definitely fun.
My granddaughter does a similar thing now when she instinctively places her favorite books and stuffed animals in a protective “magic circle” around her on her bed and then sleeps soundly.
Worrying about things results in more things to worry about, including negative thoughts patterns, stressed minds, unhealthy bodies and diminished lives. So whatever it takes to cause our kids to trust life and feel secure is a good thing.
Everything in our lives has as much power as we give it. And we can give our kids the power to always feel safe.
7. KNOWING HOW TO LEARN IS BETTER THAN STORING INFORMATION
It can be difficult for children to be a perfect match to a one-size-fits-all educational system. One of my sons dropped out of his school’s gifted program, because he felt bored. Another faced challenges, because he didn’t like to go to school on Mondays.
In both cases, it was tempting to become upset, but I wouldn’t be swayed to negative thinking about them. And I kept telling a validating story about them, knowing they’d become for me whatever I decided to see.
As they moved out of their teen years, they all three went on quests. One climbed through the night to the top of the Great Pyramid in Cairo. One spent an intense night alone, sitting out a lightning storm on the precipice of Stromboli’s volcano. And one volunteered with a relief agency, digging wells in Ethiopia. And today, they’re all rich in authenticity, integrity and self-knowledge.
More important than telling our kids what they should learn is to constantly support their unique curiosity and their confidence in finding the resources to create a valuable life.
And one of the best ways we can help our kids get along in school is to not hassle them about school, and to be a continually curious person ourselves in their presence. That way, we teach them to be curious, and to want to know and understand. And if we can impart that to our kids, we won’t need to worry about their grades.
8. PLAY IS THEIR PURPOSE
When we set aside adult responsibilities for a while, and we get out a board game as a family, or we cook together in the kitchen, or we head out to the woods for a walk, we’re making a rich life. Because when we’re having fun, our kids will have fun with us.
When my sons were old enough to stay home alone together, I would sometimes go out for the evening and then arrive home after their bedtimes, pull up in the driveway, and through the windows I could see bodies flying in every direction, racing to the bedrooms. Inside, I’d feel the back of the TV to see whether it was still warm, and of course it was.
These were not the battles I chose though. That stuff usually made me laugh – along with the glassless picture frames hanging on our walls, in spite of the “no playing ball in the house” rule, and all the broken louver windows, in spite of the “no skateboarding in the house” rule.
My sons were naturally all about play. And I believed that the better we felt, the better we would do at anything we tried. And that learning happens best when we’re having fun.
Children naturally place greater value and priority on enjoying life than on winning approval or accomplishing goals. Their biggest concern is not whether our career and wealth and reputation are thriving. What matters to our kids is whether we’re sharing a fun life with them.
When my son was nine, he asked to join an adult art class for people with AIDS. Everyone in the class had the HIV virus, which was a death sentence back then, and they were hoping to channel their fear into a creative outlet. For them, my son was a joyous, wisecracking, unaffected symbol of life and liveliness, always telling jokes and making them laugh. He wasn’t afraid, and he didn’t judge or condemn them. He just wanted to have a good time with them.
We all have a lot to gain from having fun, and we all need regular playtime.
9. THEY CAN CHOOSE JOY EVERY MOMENT
I was fortunate to have a mom whose nature was to be joyful and to laugh easily. She wasn’t afraid to be different or to do the unexpected. She began piano lessons at age fifty, attending recitals alongside seven-year-olds. At seventy, she began ballroom dance lessons. And at ninety, she learned to email. She never assumed that she was too old. And she had an innate knowing that she had worth, that it didn’t matter what others thought of her, and that she would be able to figure things out.
For most of my childhood, we lived in a log cabin in the middle of a forest. The driveway out was a mile long, the acreage was fenced, and we had a horse that had full run of the area. My mom felt concerned about him when he had to stay home alone. So to keep him happy, she left the kitchen radio playing, and he would stand by the open window to listen to the music.
One of the best gifts we can give our kids is joy of life. To know how to feel fulfilled and joyful in spite of outward conditions. But we can’t give it if we don’t express it.
If we need anyone or anything to change before we can feel better, we’ve given away our power to that person or that thing. We may be thinking, “But what about my current finances? I don’t have enough money to be happy,” and that will result in poverty consciousness. We may be thinking, “But what about my partner? She’s bad, so I can’t feel good,” and that will result in marriage problems.
When we let go of negativity, it’s as though we shift to a higher vantage point. And from there, we’re able to see a more beautiful world and live a richer life.
Most important is that we show our kids that it’s possible to think ourselves into feeling better, and that enjoying life is a decision. And when we enjoy life, our kids are affected, because joy is infectious.
And when they know how to feel fulfilled and secure, no matter what their outward conditions are, they’ll understand themselves to be valuable and they’ll perceive the world as a beautiful place – from that higher vantage point.
Whatever our ideals and beliefs, and whatever we decide to teach our children and pass on to them as our values, it’s less important than who we are in front of them, because that’s what they’ll take into themselves, and into adulthood.
So let’s give them the best that we are.
Come follow me on Instagram!