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Programming…it’s not just the TV’s latest shows.

Programming is also the message or the story that we say in our head when we push play again and again.  Our minds are being programmed like a computer, tapes, and tracks.  We can choose to listen to the “I am fat” tape; the “I am stupid” CD; and the “I can’t do anything right” recording.  Or we can choose to think on what is truth, what is right, pure, and lovely. 

Take for example the child who says, “I can’t do math.  I’m not good at it like the rest of the kids in my class.”  This is the message that he is pushing play to again and again.  But that doesn’t have to be his truth, his reality.  Let’s help him to change the message to, “I Can Do Math.”

This is challenging, but I’ll try again.  I can do this.  I am smart.  I am a good thinker.  I can figure this out.  How about I ask for help or look back at my notes.”

I Can Do Math Sticker Award

When we face a challenge and begin to feel like “I don’t get this.  This is too hard,” sometimes we make an agreement with a lie that says; “I can’t do this.”  When we believe this lie of “I can’t do this,” it has consequences.  We stop trying.  We give up.

What we think in our head soon comes out of our mouth.  Now we begin saying, “I don’t like math.  I’m not good at it.”  We’ve spoken it out loud, so we begin to believe it.  Our mind and our mouth control our reality.  When words are spoken over us, it creates a track in our heads.  Our subconscious mind keeps replaying the message until we believe it.

It doesn’t stop there though.  We think it, speak it out, believe it, and then we start to walk it out.  We no longer try to do math practice problems.  We stop turning in homework.  We don’t listen in class.  We leave questions blank on a math test. 

I Can't Do Math girl

How do we help a child when they get to this point?  Ask them these two questions: 1) “Who told you that you couldn’t do math?”  2) “When was the first time you remember feeling like you couldn’t do math?”  As you talk this through with them, help them to see the truth or the lie about that first memory.

Now talk through their current behavior or actions.  Are they paying attention in class?  Are they taking notes?  Are they writing down what the teacher writes on the board?  Are they trying to do the practice problems?  Would doing any of these things help them to do better in math?  Do they want to understand math and be able to do it as best as they can?  By asking these questions, you are gauging motivation as well as their commitment level towards trying to do better. 

Now create a plan as to what they will do to change their thinking, the words they speak out, and then their actions.  Write it down on an index card or put alarms on their phone that randomly ring and tell them the message of the right thing they should be thinking. 

Don’t leave them off the hook yet.  You may have put a plan in place to help them to do better and to feel better about their math, but you’ve got to get their commitment. 

Ask them specifically: “If I ever notice or sense that you are believing the lie again that you can’t do math…if I see you slacking off and not paying attention…if you stop doing the homework, will you give me permission to point it out to you?      YES     NO

Are you willing to refocus, keep doing the practice homework, and ask questions to get more help?   YES    NO

Great!  Then let’s do this math!”

It's Easy I've Got This Sticker Badge

It’s all about the programming.  What messages are we telling ourselves?  What do we keep pushing play to?  How are those thoughts playing out in our actions?

We want to hear from you. Share in the comments below any messages that you’ve noticed yourself believing that you’ve had to stop, turn off, or tune out. How were those negative or false messages showing up in your life? When you changed the tape, the programming that you were listening to, what good things happened in your life? We want to learn from you.

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