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Parent Stephanie contributed this item, which came from Patti Teel. “While we’d like to believe that our children live carefree lives devoid of concerns, many children become anx-ious and self-critical at an early age. Parents can help their children develop positive thinking, a discipline that can be developed through practice. Many children are born optimists. They have a wonderful feeling of self-assurance and absolute faith that their wishes and desires will come true. However, some children either are born or quickly develop into worriers. They worry about speaking in front of their class, that they are stupid, that no one likes them, etc. Instead of focusing on what we desire or want, this form of stress focuses on what will happen when things go wrong.

We attract what we focus on. Often we don’t realize that we are focusing on what we don’t want, rather than what we do want. For instance, if your family has been sick, you’re probably clear that this is not what you want. However, worry-ing about being sick is an entirely different perspective than focusing on being well. When your child expresses a worry by telling you what she doesn’t want to have happen, help her to identify and then start focusing on what she truly wants to have happen instead. For instance, if your daughter says, “I don’t want to go to the party because no one will play with me,” help her identify what she wants by asking, “What would you like to have happen at the party?” And then, “What if you have fun at the party?” Children who worry a lot are great candidates for visualization and imagery. The truth is, worry is negative visualization, and it takes a vivid imagination to imagine such horrible scenarios. Gradually teach your child to focus on her desires rather than on her fears. Tell stories in which your child faces and overcomes a fear or attains her goal. Eventually she will be able to visualize these positive scenarios on her own.

Challenge your child to direct all statements that start with “I am” towards positive statements and goals. Negative affirmations such as “I’m just stupid” or “I’m always sick” are harmful because they penetrate a child’s subconscious. Our minds and bodies are not separate entities. When a child creates positive pictures and self-suggestion, it can have a beneficial effect on both his physical and emotional health. Children who picture themselves as happy and healthy will be taking an important step towards becoming happy and healthy throughout their entire lives.

As parents, we need to keep in mind that we are our children’s heroes and role models. If we are continuously worried and self-critical, our children are likely to be the same. Worrying projects negative energy, and it doesn’t do you or your children a bit of good. In fact, when children are aware that their parents are worried about them, it projects a lack of faith, and they tend to feel more anxious. Admittedly, there are times when our worries are well-founded. Even then, instead of imagining the worst possible scenario, focus on the positive outcome you desire and on actions that can help bring it about.”