Thinking Outside the Box

Outside the box

By Ben Smith, LCSW, Courier & Press, March 22, 2016 –

Albert Einstein once stated, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

So often people walk through life gauging what they see and experience through a small picture frame. We create and embellish on this structure through formal education, life experiences and social and intimate interactions

We are taught what values are important, who to associate with, and even what goals we need to focus on. But what is the effect on the frame when surrounding concerns paint a picture of failure, stress and confined limits?

As parents or guardians, what type of picture frame do we help our children construct?

Einstein saw the “awe” in experiencing new opportunities every day. Maybe we should ask what we can do today to help our youth think outside the box.

Regardless of race, financial status or age, people often operate from the safety of a self-constructed box. Over time, this box has provided security and protection from hurtful outside influences. It has also provided acceptance and approval from people or groups we deem important.

These self-constructed walls are initially malleable but begin to become rigid over time as beliefs are fortified. In general, this is not a bad thing.

However, some youth are unfortunately subjected to social experiences and stressors (such as poor home conditions) that cause their box and view of the world to become small and fixated. Depending on how they are able to manage these circumstances, they will see their world with limited opportunities and minimal success. This is something I hope we do not readily accept.

What can we do to help our kids think differently and stretch the limits of their box?

Here are a few quick tips:

1) Be a role model. As caregivers, the way in which we see things and interact will transfer to our children. Display excitement in attempting new challenges and exploring new possibilities. Demonstrate characteristics of resiliency, work ethic and self-confidence. Encourage your child to expand their circle of influence toward people who can help them grow socially, emotionally and spiritually.

2) Get involved and experience things through their eyes. As parents, we often place values and mannerisms onto our kids. As they grow older the parent/child attachment gets stretched. Caregivers can strengthen those bonds by reassessing how the world is viewed through their child’s eye. Opening up a steady line of communication, being nonjudgmental, and supporting creative ideas can help lead a youth toward new horizons.

3) Be aware of what kids are listening to and watching. This is pretty self-explanatory but often overlooked. Take the opportunity to observe things they are interested in. Allow kids to discuss why they find these things meaningful, and explain your views in a noncritical way.

4) Help develop positive and proactive self-talk. Many people walk around using negative language that fosters helplessness. They hold the perspective that outside influences control their behavior. Teach your child to make statements that display confidence such as “I can,” I will,” etc.

Encourage your child to dream, imagine the possibilities and think outside the box. With this change in perspective, your child will be able to witness many of life’s miracles.