Monday 27 January 2014

Enthusiasm is contagious

I'm a big believer that children feed off our own energies.  When we are stressed, they can feel it too.   So I've taken a leaf out of my own book and started to be much more positive and enthusiastic about things this year.  I may not feel like colouring in or pretending to play air guitar but I've switched my positive head on and joined in.  And actually I've enjoyed myself - I never knew I was so good at air guitar at 9am on a Sunday morning.  Plus with Missy, you only have to engage a short while before she is off doing something else.  My feelings of positivity also help me feel more motivated which helps me get my @rse in gear.

It was interesting then two things caught my attention this week on a similar vein.  Firstly, I'm doing a course about teaching children meditation and up came the phrase "kids will pick up on your energy and discomfort very easily".   When teaching meditation, the adult needs to be relaxed and in the moment, staying self-aware otherwise the children will sense this and their minds will start wandering too.

Secondly, I read an article in this month's What Doctors Don't Tell You (being a lover of all things complementary, this is one of my favourite magazines) about how gentle enthusiasm for even the smallest of changes can help your child progress.  Science has shown the our brains contains 'mirror neurons' that allow us to understand what others are doing not just through their action but also their intentions, emotions and the social meaning of their behaviour, ie our positive feelings can also be felt by our children but also so can negative feelings.  Of course, I feel a slight generalism here as who knows how our childrens' brains wiring and their mirror neurons have been affected by their background. But the writer of the article who has worked with many children with learning difficulties, ADHD and autism, talks about seeing how children with challenges to their brain development have reacted positively to enthusiasm.

We're not talking massive positive praise, flag waving and high fives but instead the enthusiasm comes from within us.  In fact, with Missy, sometimes if we do overly praise her, she will decide that what she has done is rubbish and that she's no good too.  That self-esteem and trust thing a lot of adopted kids struggle with.

Instead of the over-the-top positive affirmations, if we just 'feel' enthusiasm and delight (for even the smallest of things) and amplify it internally, children's brains will sense that something important has occurred.  The child's brain, using those mirror neurons, then helps the child work out what they are feeling and experiencing.  It's the children's own internal experience that then creates a positive reinforcement for them.

So, anyway, regardless of all the science stuff, I'm practicing being more enthusiastic around Missy.  When Missy first came home and we were struggling, I was advised to 'fake it til you make it'.  And yes sometimes I don't feel like being enthusiastic or positive but I do it and, do you know, I feel better for it.  So, if I'm more positive then hopefully Missy will 'mirror' these feelings too.

Yes, yes, I know, God if only it were that blinkin' easy.  But .... we've had a fairly calm start to 2014 - no furniture throwing or door slamming as yet to accompany the strops.

And this is as much about how I feel as I need to pull myself out of the slump of last year.  As Patricia Neal says "A strong positive mental attitude will create more miracles than any drug" which is good because I am never taking any anti-depressants.


  1. I love this blog. Being still and thinking about our energies, and the impact they may have on our children, or anyone in fact is a useful journey in self awareness Zx


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