When driving my son Arthur to school one morning I decided to ask him a very simple question. You see our drive in peak hour traffic was going to be at least 15-20 minutes, so Arthur was a captive audience in the back seat and I had his undivided attention.
'Arthur have you decided what sort of day you're gong to have today'?, I asked. At the time he was only 8 so it was quite a thought provoking question for someone so young. I noticed him through my rear vision mirror in deep thinking mode and then he responded with another question in return: 'what sort of question is that dad'?
'Well Arthur, have you chosen whether you are going to have a calm, gentle, sad, angry, happy or exciting day'? Without thinking Arthur immediately responded with 'I've chosen to have a happy day dad. What else would I choose but happy'?
Arthur had simply made a decision that his day was going to be a happy and positive one. Sometimes as parents we just assume that our kids are capable of making these distinctions about their mindset. However, like everything else, we need to teach and explain to them that they have the power to decide everyday with regards to what state of mind they can have. It's all a choice.
The lesson here is that we must continually communicate with our children and check in to determine where their mindset is at.
I also recall one particular morning when Arthur was dressed and ready for school. He came into our bedroom and said 'I'm feeling frail today'. I immediately checked to see if he was experiencing any headaches, tummy pains, or any other physical pain. He replied to any of the above. It was unusual for him to complain so I took him seriously. My quick response to him was 'Arthur you can choose to feel frail, or you can choose to feel energetic and excited about your day, which one would you like to choose'? Thankfully he replied with excited and energetic. My wife and I haven't heard anything more about the word frail ever since.
At the time, I could have dismissed his claim of frailty as a means of trying to stay home from school and replied with a more harsh tone. Alternatively, I could have also acted like a doting parent and molly coddled him and tell him to take off his uniform, get back into bed and take it easy for the rest of the day. Being harsh, or molly coddling our children isn't the answer as it sends the wrong message and doesn't allow for the development of 'behavioural muscle'. Remember we all choose our attitude, behaviour and of course, what type of day we want to have. Therefore, choose wisely.
Till next time
Your Mindfulness Coach
Jim Demetriou (0401 333093)