Jun 112014
F.A. Cup Trophy

Photo credit: Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums


Everything we accomplish begins in our mind’s eye.  Don’t believe me?  Look at the thousands of dollars adults spend each year on books, seminars and coaching simply to learn how to use this important tool.  How many times have you heard a speaker or seminar leader advise you to attach a “vivid, emotional picture” to your goals in order to speed up the process?  It’s pretty common — and common sense — advice.

Visualize.  Picture.  Imagine.  Pretend.  Fake it ’til you make it.

What do these things have in common?  They come pretty naturally to kids.  I wonder what would happen if we took steps to reinforce  those abilities  in childhood   — while it’s still easy and natural?  And why do we want to preserve constructive imagination in our kids?

When did you first hear that old favorite W. Clement Stone quote, ‘What the mind can conceive it and believe it can achieve’?  As adults we learn that being able to picture the end result is an important step in creating motivation to act on our ‘wants.’  We picture ourselves fitting easily and effortlessly into a favorite outfit or skinny jeans to keep our feet moving on the way to the gym.  As kids we lie in bed and ‘watch the movie’ of the game-winning catch or being at the center of the big awards ceremony…. over and over and over.

Practicing “imagination plus emotion” also helps build emotional intelligence and strengthen empathy.  That’s pretty easy to practice with your kids.  After all, as you move through the day together you encounter dozens of situations that allow you to ask “how do you think that person is feeling right now?”  This can lead to some great conversations about news stories, neighborhood relations, manners, sports score…  It’s a way to take almost any conversation with your kids beyond the “headline level.”

Besides, the best way to learn something is to teach it.  Practicing visualization skills with your kids could save you a lot of time at seminars and move you closer to your personal goals.


Having trouble keeping that inner voice positive?  Watch this space for a new book about taming your Inner Critic!

Feb 062013

learning to play catch

For better or worse, everything we do begins in our mind.  Or, more specifically, in our mind’s eye.

Adults spend thousands of dollars every year on books and seminars and coaching to learn to do something that most kids do pretty naturally.  Visualize.  Picture.  Imagine.  “Fire up your goals with a vivid picture, complete with the emotions you’ll feel when you reach your goal.”  Sound familiar?

I wonder what would happen if we took steps to reinforce that ability in childhood  while it’s still easy and natural?  And why would you want to?

1) The first thing that springs to mind is that favorite old W. Clement Stone quote, “What the mind can conceive it and believe it can achieve.”  Being able to preview the end result is an important step in motivation and action.  It’s the skill that some of us use to get on the treadmill or to help our kids do their math homework.  (The picture of fitting into my favorite jeans or her picture of going to school to become a veterinarian motivate us to actually show up and complete the less desirable task at hand.)

2) It enhances emotional intelligence by building empathy.  This one is fairly easy to practice together and can lead to some great conversations.  In the course of your day, what are you noticing together?  Sports scores?  News? People bumping into one another?  Helping someone out? Protesting? Volunteering?  It’s hard for me to imagine any situation that you observe with your kids that doesn’t provide you a natural opening to ask “I wonder how that person feels right now?”  Practice prepares your child for situations they haven’t encountered, perhaps even how to respond should they feel an urge to bully someone.

3) It could save you money.  What????  The best way to learn something is to teach it.  Practicing visualization skills with your kids could help improve the mental rehearsal skills needed to reach important goals in your own life.  And what better teacher for your chid than a parent who is walking the talk?


Having trouble keeping that inner voice positive?  You might be interested in Inner Critic to Inner Ally: A Beginner’s Guide

Jan 152013

I’m a big fan of taking something that works well in one arena and trying it out in another.

Literacy advocate Esther Jantzen suggests that Think-Aloud is a great way to engage our kids’ thought process during story time, thereby supporting the growth of both their literacy and critical thinking skills. (You can go back and read that post here.)

What if Think-Aloud could be applied to improving and enhancing social and emotional literacy skills? What if we help our kids to ‘Share Our Supposes’ about things that we see on the news, at the mall or in our neighborhoods?

It’s a simple something that can be easily added to day-to-day routines: just stop occasionally to share your thoughts and feelings about what you observed together… and ask your child to do the same. When we do this our youngsters get to see and feel that talking about what’s going on in the world around is us a way to understand it better. It can also help them to connect to news stories and appreciate the ways that their own lives could be impacted by similar circumstances. I think that the ability to see things from another’s point of view is possibly more important now than it has ever been.

How do you talk about the news without scaring or overwhelming your kids?

When an event reminds you of a personal experience, stop and briefly talk about it. You might make a connection between what happened to you and what is happening on the news, or about the impact that a similar event might have had on you or someone you know.

Or, when you come across a story or event that puzzles you, stop and ask questions like, “I wonder why that person did that?” or “That doesn’t make any sense to me — I wonder what she was thinking?” or “Was that a good decision?”

Don’t be in a hurry — see if your child wants to add something. Listen carefully. Encourage your child’s observations.

While you may not come up with any big answers, you’ll help impart the value of asking questions AND contribute to your child’s sense of community and connection.