Thoughts are powerful but is there something stronger? Our parenting skills expert and author of the book, The Good, The Bad, and the Difference, Michael Sabbeth, is here to shed some light.
First, we'll describe a talk Michael Sabbeth had with third graders to show why a positive thought may not be enough. Then we'll share how two experiments deepened the children's wisdom. Finally, I'll end with 10 simple things children can do when they combine good thinking with acting.
A Lawyer's Discussion with Kids:
One chilly fall morning, Michael began a discussion with 8-year-olds about friendship. Specifically, he asked the class about caring and its relationship to doing. His eyebrows arched when some children said caring and helping were the same thing. He remembers Julie saying, "Because, with both, you are doing something good and you feel better."
Two Challenging Experiments about Thinking and Acting:
Michael brought up the topic of homeless children and devised two tests.
1. "Close your eyes," he told the class. "Concentrate for 15 seconds on caring about homeless children and improving their lives. Imagine giving them books and clothing and shelter."
When the kids opened their eyes, Michael asked if they had any evidence that the kids' lives improved. They said, "No." Then Michael added the second experiment and tripled the time.
2. "Close your eyes for 45 seconds and really care. Don't hold back."
Some youngsters clenched their fists. Others bit their lips to think their most generous thoughts.
When they opened their eyes, Jordan blurted out, "It takes no work to care." Samantha shared that she was a volunteer at a homeless shelter. Morgan, in talking about caring and doing said, "They're not equal at all! Doing is better.
Michael encourages parents to have these kinds of dialogues with their children because they quickly lead to deeper levels of thinking. (From pages 214-215)
10 Ways Kids Can Turn Positive Thoughts into Helpful Actions:
1. "I hope Johnny gets over his cold." Call Johnny and tell him you hope he gets better.
2. "I bet Suzy would like one of my chocolates." Offer Suzy a chocolate.
3. "I'm glad Jimmy likes my new bike." Ask Jimmy if he'd like to ride it.
4. "I wish Sally had a friend." Ask Sally to play.
5. "Somebody should be nice to the new kid in class." Introduce the new kid to your friends.
6. "Kirsten gave a great book report." Tell Kirsten what you liked about her book report."
7. "Too bad the teacher punished Alvin for something he didn't do." Tell the teacher the truth.
8. "Jonathon looks hungry." Share your snack with him.
9. "Tina has to finish her yard work before she can play." Help Tina finish her work.
10. "I'm sorry Peter has a bloody knee." Help Peter wash it and give him a band aid.
When good ideas are followed through with helpful activities, they create superior outcomes. Consider brainstorming kind actions toward others with your children. Then ask, "What can you do to make it happen?" By getting kids to add actions to thoughts you are teaching them to be kind now and preparing them to be leaders tomorrow.
Let's THANK Michael Sabbeth for sharing his class discussions, his experiments, and his wisdom.
Pick up your copy of The Good The Bad & The Difference: How To Talk With Children About Values and watch your children grow when you use his ideas for your creative discussions.
Available at Amazon.com
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