• How Beliefs Affect Behavior—Mighty Parenting 220 With Shelly Lefkoe

  • how beliefs affect behavior

    The beliefs we learn when we’re young form the cornerstone of our morals, opinions, speech and behaviors for the rest of our lives. So how do we make sure that our children internalize beliefs that will help, not hinder, their futures? Shelly Lefkoe is here to show us how beliefs affect behavior; she talks with Mighty Parenting podcast host Sandy Fowler on learned beliefs and behaviors, common beliefs that can be harmful, and opening up your child to share what they believe and how you can guide them forward in their life.

    Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Player FM | iheartradio | Castbox | Podchaser | Overcast

    A Favorite Quote from the Show: 

    Our children’s beliefs are the single most important thing that will determine their future.

    High Points From Our Conversation on How Beliefs Affect Behavior:

    Quote about how beliefs affect behavior

    In her work over the past 30 years, Shelly has discovered that how beliefs affect behavior is universal—the people she worked with lived around the world, yet they shared the same beliefs, which came from the same place and stopped those people in the same way.

    If we can transform the way people parent, we can change the world.

    Our beliefs influence more of ourselves than we think they do—everything from our emotions to our behavior to our current reality is shaped by what we believe and how we internalize that. 

    If you believe everyone can be trusted, that’s going to change your behavior; you’ll be more open and honest. If you believe your coworkers are smart, that’s going to change how you treat and act around them. If you believe mistakes and failures are bad, you’re never going to take risks and will rarely try being innovative for fear of that failure.

    This is not a place for you as a parent to feel guilt. Nobody is a perfect parent; we all make mistakes. 

    Our kids are not perfect. They are magnificent beings, but we all have issues. No matter what you do, at some point, your kids are going to hate you. This does not mean you are failing or that you’re a horrible parent.

    Shelley recommends all parents of teens read Uncommon Sense for Parenting Kids, by Michael Rivera. Here’s some major points to remember:

    • Teens as they are right now aren’t who they’re going to be later in life
    • They’re trying on personalities to see who they want to be
    • They want to be independent but need us and resent us for it

    When kids are born and small, they don’t know anything about themselves, life, people or the world. They look around to learn and generally first latch onto parents or guardians as role models.

    Every child wants three things:

    1. Affection
    2. Attention 
    3. Acknowledgment 
    Our beliefs stay with us because we think we see those beliefs in the world. This is especially true for children growing up: they see mom and dad struggling with money and believe money is scarce and hard to get. They see other kids getting more attention from their parents and believe they aren’t worth the attention/aren’t lovable enough.

    You can listen for your child’s beliefs. If they come to you and say, Everybody hates me, you can ask, Well, why do you think that?  You can play valid interpretation with them and their answers—it could be that everybody hates you, or it could be something else. What are other valid interpretations? What’s another way of looking at it?

    Even knowing how beliefs affect behavior, you may not be able to get rid of your child’s harmful/negative beliefs, but there are ways to loosen their grip. Try getting to the source of the beliefs as opposed to putting a bandaid on their behavior.

    Shelley has a technique she calls, “Get to the source, don’t force.” Instead of why, ask what. If your kid doesn’t want to do their homework, then instead of asking them why they don’t want to do it, ask them: what about doing the homework don’t you like? What could we/you do to make that better?

    Parents often fall into wanting to fix things rather than get to the root cause of the belief and subsequent behavior. But getting to the source, whether it’s your kid not having enough time at home to do the work, or they’re struggling with certain concepts, or getting bullied at school… that allows for finding a true solution rather than a temporary fix-it.

    So we’re learning how beliefs affect behavior, but with teenagers, their beliefs don’t just affect their behavior, but their emotions and hormones also. Sometimes they can’t control their feelings and the resulting behavior.

    Validate their feelings and listen, and often your teen’s anger or frustration will simply deflate, and they might talk truly about why they’re so angry or frustrated. The most important thing is that you stop talking and listen—often you’ll get information you won’t have gotten before.

    Your job is to facilitate your children to create positive beliefs about themselves in life. You’re not the boss of your child; you’re their guardian angel. Get rid of the belief that you’re the boss and that your children are here to live up to your expectations.

    Shelley’s husband’s main philosophy on parenting is: If they aren’t hurting themselves, others or things/property, then your child should be allowed to do what they want; it’s their adventure in growing up. They don’t have to be a football player because you were a football player in high school. Just because you think they should go to a specific college doesn’t mean they should.

    There are many common parenting beliefs, but one of the most common is that your kids are a reflection of you, that everything from how they dress to which school they attend to how they act around strangers is a reflection of you. That is the number one belief that kills parents.

    The most common belief is what makes me good enough are my achievements. We need to tell our kids that we love and appreciate them for who they are, not what they do. We can tell our kids how much we enjoy being with them, that we love how they’re kind, fun, caring, creative…

    When you only get praised and positive reinforcement for doing a job/getting a good grade/winning a sports game, you start believing that your achievements are what make you worthy. This leads to workaholism, because the minute you stop, you’re not good enough, so you keep going and going and going.

    Alternative interpretations: if your child is failing (not doing well enough for their desires), you can open the possibility of other possibilities besides failure. Maybe the coach or teacher uses the wrong learning style. Maybe you’re a visual learner in an auditory learning environment. Thus the poor grades mean you aren’t learning in the best manner for you, not that you’re stupid or not paying attention.

    We want our kids to come to the conclusion that they’re not stupid using alternative interpretations. Everybody has different interpretations of events, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t valid—you just have to keep an open mind and brainstorm until you find the interpretations that seem to actually fit the problem.

    To sum up:

    1. Listen, don’t talk
    2. Validate their feelings
    3. Listen for beliefs that are harmful
    4. Ask, Where did you discover that?
    5. Discuss alternative interpretations
    6. Remind them: You never saw that; you saw events and interpreted those events via your beliefs


    Shelly’s gift: https://www.recreateyourlife.com 

    Uncommon Sense for Parents with Teenagers by Michael Riera

    How Mentally Strong Parents Raise Mentally Strong Kids | Amy Morin | Episode 29

    Mindfulness In Parenting | iBme | Episode 130

    Connecting With Your Teenager | Courtney Conley | Episode 185

    Our Guest Shelly Lefkoe:

    Shelly Lefkoe discusses how beliefs affect behavior

    Shelly Lefkoe is the co-founder of the Lefkoe Institute, a San Francisco Bay Area firm whose mission is “To significantly improve the quality of life on the planet.” 

    Shelly has helped thousands of clients worldwide recreate their lives by ridding themselves of a wide variety of problems including phobias, relationships that never seem to work, violence, procrastination, unwillingness to confront people, health and wellness issues, and sexual dysfunction. Her clients have eliminated emotional patterns such as fear, hostility, shyness, anxiety, depression, worry about what people think of them, and a negative sense of themselves.   

    Her programs have reached over 150,000 people worldwide. Her work has been featured on the Today Show, Leeza, and many other media outlets.  

    Shelly is an international keynote speaker and workshop leader.  

    Her personal vision is to transform the way people parent. She believes that if we raise a conscious generation of children, violence will end, people will treat each other with respect and dignity, and life on this planet will be better for everyone.   She is the author of parenting the Lefkoe way – a manual for raising confident kids.  

    To learn more or connect with our guest visit https://empoweringthenextgeneration.mykajabi.com.

    Our Sponsor: 

    Inward Bound Mindfulness Education — Mindfulness courses and retreats for teens and adults

    iBme offers online and in-person retreats, mindfulness courses, and weekly meditations tailored for various communities of teens and young adults. Visit iBme.com to learn more and register for programs, including in-person summer retreats.