This article in the New York Times has been out for a couple of days but it really took me a while to read it because I know that mindset affects age.

Everyone knows that.

If you think you are younger, you’ll feel a little bit younger.  

What if Age is Nothing but a Mind-Set?

But the results in some of the studies in this article are mind blowing!  You can lose weight, be younger, be happier just by changing one word in your vocabulary.

But one thing they don’t mention is children and I think it is even more poignant how children can change through perspective.

Imagine– if adults can physically lose weight just from believing that they are healthier, what would happen to your child’s behavior if they thought they were great kids.

Here’s a scenario (imagined only after you read the whole article): You are at a friend’s house and a mom with a toddler walks in and says, “Oh man, Let me sit down a second before my son starts tearing up the whole house and breaking things.”

And within five minutes, he is running around and trying to get things to throw.

Here’s scenario number two: The same friend’s house, and the same mother walks in with her toddler and the friend says, “Should I get these things out of your way so that he can’t reach them?” And the mom responds, “No, he is very respectful and your things will be fine.”  And even if in five minutes the toddler starts to reach for something (which he probably won’t), the mom can remind him, “no touching, that’s not ours”.

In the first scenario, the mom is setting her child up for poor behavior, however in the second scenario, the same mom is setting up the same child for success!

What if Age is Nothing but a Mind-Set?

I have twins boys so just about everywhere I go, I hear, “Are they twins?  Wow, they must be a handful!”  

Can you imagine?  All my boys’ life they have been hearing that they are a handful which is a really nice way to say that they are difficult.   

But get this, I always respond, “A handful of love!

So for their three long years, they have been hearing about how they are full of love every time they meet a stranger.

You can change your child’s behavior by changing the words you use around them, to describe them, and when you ask them to do things.

This isn’t about praise, I’m not telling you to start telling your children that they are smart, or that their picture is beautiful.  I’ll talk about praise another day, this is about changing one or two words in how you describe your child to other people and how you set their course and give them the perspective that they are good kids!

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Parents fall into traps all the time.  Unfortunately, it is part of parenting.  This is an easy trap to get out of and possibly one of the most important ones. 

Have you ever caught yourself saying the following in front of your kids?

“He’s my difficult kid.”

“She won’t eat anything.”

“He never listens.”

“I can’t get her to sit still for anything.”

We talk about our kids when they are right there especially when they are very young and not as attentive.  But very young children are at the age when they absorb everything, so it is key to use that time to your advantage and let them hear you tell everyone about their attributes.

For the next couple of days try this instead:

“He brings me so much joy.”

“She is trying new foods all the time.”

“He is a good listener.” (even if he isn’t- they internalize what they hear.)

“She loves to listen to stories!”

As children get older, they often know when we are talking about them.  They will hear either the good or the bad and then make it true.  I have never seen a situation where a parent says, “It’s going to be difficult to get her to pay attention” and then have the child actually pay attention.  The child also assimilates that statement into her being and it becomes part of her.

The parent so easily could have said, “Today we are going to be able to sit longer and try and stay for the whole show!” and when the child sits better than they ever have, there will be a big high five at the end!

How we talk about our children defines our children.