Re-framing is a powerful tool to introduce your children to and to use within family life. It can hugely enhance wellbeing, confidence and self-worth.
WHAT IS IT?
Essentially it is looking for the positive side of the negative. Not in a way that ignores that they negative exists BUT it is focusing on the bigger picture. Some people do this naturally, other people need to gently ‘train’ themselves to see less of the negative.
An initial example … your child might say ‘I am terrible at football. I did not score a single goal in that match’. To re-frame this negativity you need to unpick the statement with them. Have they scored in previous games? Have they helped other players score by passing them the ball? Does their performance in one match make them terrible at football? Then you can encourage them to re-phrase it … ‘I did not play my best match today but I helped William be man of the match by passing the ball to him. I was a great team player.’
It’s not about ignoring negative things that happen, but it is about viewing everyday life with a more positive filter.
HOW TO START RE-FRAMING:
Language is huge when it comes to re-framing. Start listening to how you and your children describe yourself /events generally. Are you using limiting language? Are you putting yourself down? Eg: ‘I was no good at maths at school’, ‘I have no will power when it comes to sugar’ , ‘I am terrible with pain’. You / they are reinforcing negative beliefs by thinking in such blanket terms. It is very black and white, when we are a whole spectrum of greys. You / they are placing yourself in a pigeon hole unnecessarily. None of us a ‘good’ / ‘bad’ / ‘greedy’ all of the time, but we all are sometimes!
Re-framing … ‘I found maths really hard today’ (the maths WAS hard, it was not you that was bad at it. Learning anything takes time). ‘I really craved sugar today, I must eat a few more veggies tomorrow!’ (You do have will power, but today you chose to eat treats, were they yummy?!). ‘wow, it really hurt when I banged my knee’ (it does hurt when you bang your knee! It is not a negative about you). Start noticing your language and adjusting it.
HOW TO HELP YOUR CHILDREN RE-FRAME.
- Model it yourself. Adjust your language together and let them hear you do it.
- Practice! It takes time to adjust how we think and speak. Eg: ‘Gah! I hate the dark evenings in the winter they make me feel sad’. What can you find that you like about the darkness? The cosiness? The opportunity to light candles, snuggle under a blanket and enjoy a book together?
- Avoid ‘pigeon holes’. Our children often get ‘labelled’ within a family … the arty one, the sporty one, the reader. Although these sound like positive labels, we are implying that the others are not sporty … or arty … or that we can’t be a bit of everything.
- Help them to notice values and skills. Eg kindness, enthusiasm, perseverance. Point them out when you see them in themselves and others and encourage them to do the same. ‘Wow, you focused so well on your drawing, well done’. Or … ‘Wasn’t Amy kind to share her toys with you?’.
A GREAT WAY TO START …
Notice the negative voices in yourself and your family. Help each other look for the flip side and practise using positive language.
Re-framing is key to building resilience. If your children (and yourselves) can train themselves to be less negative about themselves and how they view the world, this will lead to greater happiness and fulfillment.