The Power Of Having Your Own BackApr 14, 2022
When you make a mistake are you the first person to beat yourself up? If you’re like most of my clients (and many friends), you likely berate yourself for your mistake. Most parents want their children to develop positive self-talk and be kind to themselves, but that’s not what we model for them when we beat ourselves up. I have to teach my clients the power of having their own back, especially when they are working on changing habitual behavior.
Consider that when a child is learning to ride a bike, if you berate the child the first couple of times they fall they are more likely to give up trying to learn. They have no motivation to get through the learning curve required to ride a bike successfully.
Our brains function exactly the same way. If you give yourself a hard time when you make a mistake — or don’t do as well as you would like when you are trying something new — your brain will resist the new behavior because there is a potential to fail. Your brain will do everything to avoid and resist that new path because it knows that you will be mean to yourself if it doesn’t turn out well. And if you tend to replay that mistake over and over in your head as most of us do, you are actually hardwiring and programming the neural pathway for the behavior and result that you don’t want in your brain.
When you beat yourself up, you shut down the learning and motivation centers in your brain and you program the behavior that you don’t want so that you’re more likely to repeat it.
Alternatively, when you don’t beat yourself up and you have your own back, you have grace for your mistakes like you would a good friend. As you are kinder to yourself, you feel better. You are more motivated to keep trying and willing to take chances knowing that you will support yourself along the way.
On a neurological level, when you are kind to yourself your body releases dopamine and you turn ON the learning and motivation centers in the brain — making the process of change so much easier.
So how do you start the shift to having your own back after years of beating yourself up? Start small. Work on one small change and when you successfully do it, celebrate! Congratulate yourself on remembering, tell yourself Good job! or Way to remember! Then congratulate yourself again for remembering to be kind to yourself with Yay Me!
That little window of kindness will turn on the motivation center in your brain so you will be more motivated to keep it up. When you start being kind and having your own back, you are likely to have more grace through the mistakes. You are more open to accepting that it wasn’t your best moment, and you wonder how you can learn from it. And when we change and start being kinder and having more grace for ourselves, we also start being more kind and having more grace for our children and family.
The best way to start intentionally modeling these concepts for your kids is by celebrating what you did well and cheering yourself on out loud so they hear you. This is how you model and teach positive self-talk and having your own back.
And when you make a parenting mistake with your kids, acknowledge your mistake, apologize, and let them know that you'll work on doing better in the future. Instead of ruminating on what went wrong — ask yourself how you can improve and what you can do differently in the future.
Then start working on doing things differently. Again, as you make the change and act differently, make sure to celebrate it and congratulate yourself: Yay me! I remembered! You will be more likely to remember next time and more motivated to keep it up so it will make the process of change quicker and easier.
This is the neuroscience of learning, and it’s purposefully where we start in my Parent From Neutral program. As parents start learning the concepts that I teach, I find that many of them start thinking that they’ve been doing it wrong or that they’ve screwed up their kids — and this line of thinking does not serve them and actually makes it harder. Please hear me when I say that it’s never too late, and your kids learn from watching you no matter what their age.
I teach these concepts first to help make the process of learning and change easier for you as parents, and so you can model and teach your children how to have their own back to save them from a lifetime of struggle and frustration.
Parent From Neutral is filled with tools and strategies to help parents shift from anxious, overwhelmed, and frustrated to calm, connected and in-control so they can focus on building the emotional health and resilience of their kids. Registration opens on April 28th and spots are limited. If you want to learn more about it and get notified as soon as registration opens, get on the waitlist here: melpeirce.com/parent
Kids learn from watching us. I didn’t realize how much my kids were picking up until my daughter commented that things were different at home. When I asked her what had changed, she responded You did. That was over five years ago and she was already thirteen at the time. But as I changed, she did too. When we model how to change through kindness and having your own back, we teach our kids a very powerful lesson that will serve them well in life. The sooner we teach these skills to children, the more we help build the resilience and emotional health of the next generation. I hope you’ll join me.
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