Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham
“Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better” is a famous positive affirmation by French psychologist and pharmacist Émile Coué, 1957-1926. His autosuggestion method has been met with positive acclaim as well as cynicism. It is a small but powerful technique we can share with our kids to end negative self-talk. If we hear our kids say, “I’m not good enough,” “I can’t do this,” or “I’m never going to make it,” stop them and help them change their inner voice. During an interview about battling depression, Michael Phelps said it helped him to repeat a positive affirmation every single time he walked through a doorway.
In a webinar called “From Good to Great in Four Steps,” sports parenting consultant David Benzel addressed how positive self-talk plays a part of achieving big dreams. Benzel’s website and webinars can be found on the USA Swimming website under Parent Education called “Growing Champions for Life.”
Here are four ways Benzel said we can help our children (and ourselves) to get better every day:
Most young swimmers dream to become an Olympian, like their heroes. That’s a fine, lofty goal and we should encourage our children along their journey. Hopefully, our kids will share their aspirations and dreams with us and we should reinforce that they aim high. We want them to be passionate and to use their special gifts and talents to their fullest ability.
Goals are the stepping-stones to achieving big dreams. We shouldn’t have too many goals at once, or it’s easy to lose focus. We can explain to our children that success doesn’t always happen, and if they don’t achieve a specific goal, it’s not a failure. Instead, it’s an opportunity to learn a lesson and improve. Our kids shouldn’t feel afraid to pursue goals and fail if they see it as another chance to figure out how to get better.
Visualization is a strong tool that many successful athletes and business people use. They’ve thought through their big dream, they’ve taken specific actions to achieve goals. But, they take it one more step and picture and practice what their dream feels and looks like. They’ve imagined touching the wall first, looking up at the scoreboard to see their best time, and glancing over at their parents jumping up and down cheering in the stands. After practicing it over and over in their minds, it becomes a familiar yet powerful experience to help reach their dreams.
Along with positive self-talk comes a strong belief in themselves. People who reach their big dreams and experience success believe passionately that their fantasy will become a reality. If the negative self-talk starts to take over and doubt enters, a person can rethink their thoughts. It’s possible to rewire the brain by turning negative thoughts into something positive. An example would be a swimmer who thinks they are a lousy kicker. Instead, they could tell themselves that they are a hard worker and will improve their kick each day.
How do you help your children improve every day, in every way?
Elizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as board member, fundraiser, newsletter editor and “Mrs. meet manager.” She’s a writer with a bachelor of arts degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington with a long career in public relations, marketing and advertising. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Parenting and Ladybug. You can read more parenting tips on her blog: http://bleuwater.me/.