Everything a child consistently hears, sees and feels moulds their view of the world and how they see themselves within it, as well as creating belief systems that then silently influence them throughout life.
95% of what we do is completely subconscious, meaning the majority of our actions and reactions from day to day are done on autopilot and stem from the beliefs that we have acquired in our formative years.
Belief systems impact the path of our life
If a child is consistently ignored, there’s a good chance that they will feel unimportant. Over time, these messages and feelings get stored in their subconscious mind as beliefs that then impact the path of their life without them even realising it.
If you think about when we first start driving a car, the process is very conscious. We think about the gears, the accelerator, the clutch and every step is well thought out. However, over time, this becomes automatic because through repetition the act of driving becomes stored in our subconscious mind. It becomes so second nature that at times we can quite often go from A to B without evening remembering how we got there!
Experiences in childhood work in a similar way. If a child is repeatedly spoken down to, this becomes their ‘normal’. It then creates a belief within them that reflects their experiences, which can manifest itself in lots of different ways later in life.
Our subconscious mind validates our beliefs
Our subconscious mind is very literal and one of its roles is to keep us safe. In our conscious mind being surrounded by great people, having positive thoughts and living a happy life would be deemed as safety. However, safety to our subconscious mind is being in alignment with our beliefs (whether they are positive or not). If we grow up with a belief that we are not good enough, our mind will do whatever it takes to validate this.
It’s important to note that not everyone with the same belief will react in the same way. One person might never fulfil their potential or step into their own brilliance. However, another person might go the opposite way and become really successful, but work so much that they jeopardise their health and relationships because they never feel that what they have achieved, no matter how amazing it may seem to the outside world, is good enough.
Our beliefs shape how we view the world
Beliefs also influence how we interpret and react to situations. You could put two people in a room and they would see a very different picture because their beliefs would influence their view of the world. An example I often give is two people (one with a belief that they are good enough and one with the belief that they are not) go to an event. In front of them is a larger-than-life person who is loud and commanding the room. The person with the ‘not good enough’ belief might think that they are overbearing, too big for their boots and that they make people feel inadequate. However, the person with the ‘I am good enough’ belief might think that they are the most inspirational person they’ve ever met and completely admire their ability to captivate an audience. Both scenarios are very real to each person, but their reality is one that validates what they intrinsically feel and believe. This is why, as human beings, we all resonate with and are attracted to different people.
As parents, practitioners and teachers we all have the best of intentions. I’m not sat here on my high horse saying that we have to be perfect at all times. As human beings, we are imperfect by nature and, no matter how much we try, children will always grow up with lessons to learn and things to unravel in adulthood because that is life. However, it is important to be mindful of the messages that our actions are consistently giving children. On the occasions when we do get it wrong (which we all do at times), it’s also important to acknowledge this and to use it as an opportunity to teach children that it’s okay to make mistakes and the importance of taking responsibility.
Failure is a stepping-stone to success
Sometimes our actions can actually be giving the opposite message that we intended. An example of this is teaching children that failure is not an option because we want to instil a winning ‘can do’ attitude. The reality is that having a belief that failure isn’t an option results in our subconscious mind doing everything it can to prevent us from failing. The problem here is that failure is a part of success and we will never reach our brilliance without having to step out of our comfort zone and risk failing. Here you can see that even though the intention was to create a winning mentality, the reality is that the exact opposite happens. What we need to be teaching children is that failure is positive because it is simply a stepping-stone to success and an opportunity to learn and grow.
It’s important to give children a foundation for success and happiness
None of us are, or ever will be, perfect. However, it is important to be aware of how our actions shape belief systems. By having a deeper understanding, we can give children a foundation for success and happiness and allow them to step into their own brilliance with confidence and self-belief.
About the author
Stacey Kelly is a former teacher, a parent to 2 beautiful babies and the founder of Early Years Story Box, which is a subscription website providing children’s storybooks and early years resources. She is passionate about building children’s imagination, creativity and self-belief and about creating awareness of the impact that the Early Years have on a child’s future. Stacey loves her role as a writer, illustrator and public speaker and believes in the power of personal development. She is also on a mission to empower children to live a life full of happiness and fulfilment, which is why she launched the #ThankYouOaky Gratitude Movement.