Nearly all limiting beliefs such as “I’m not good enough” or “I’ll never succeed” or “I don’t belong” or “I’m unlovable” are created in early childhood by unsuspecting parents who mean well, but just don’t understand how their children’s little minds work.

The effects of such self-defeating beliefs are incredibly traumatic and long lasting for kids. They usually create negative coping mechanisms to avoid the emotional pain. This includes drug and alcohol abuse, violence, crime, promiscuity, eating disorders, irrational fears and a generalized apathy toward achieving goals and dreams.

Once you understand the process of how these limitations are formed, however, you’ll be able to help your children deal with or avoid this situation all together.

Limiting beliefs are created as a result of the following functions of the brain.

Ingredient #1: Constant Search for Meaning
From the moment we see the brand new light of this world, we are trying to figure everything out. So we’re seeking answers to the question “why” at almost every turn.

Ingredient #2: Emotional Safety
The unconscious mind’s highest priority is to keep us emotionally safe. It spends most of its energy protecting our feelings and keeping us out of emotional pain and discomfort.

Ingredient #3: Inherent Desire to Be Right
The human mind does not like to be wrong in its quest to figure this world out. Being correct makes us feel more in control. We’ll generally do whatever we can to be right.

Separately, these functions are positive. But when kids experience something for the first time that’s painful or embarrassing, these 3 ingredients are a recipe for the creation of painful, self-defeating beliefs that can last a lifetime and cause your kids to constantly settle for a life of less in all areas.

Here’s how it works…

During the formative years between ages 0 and 7, most of our beliefs are formed, simply by exploring the world and deciding what each experience means.

Example of an Empowered Meaning:
Q: “Why did Mommy feed me when I was hungry?”
A: “She wants to take care of me because she loves me.” (empowering belief)

Once we have a meaning, we go on an unconscious search for evidence to support our new idea because we have an inherent desire to be right. So we collect a bunch of proof every day, that this new belief is true, regardless of whether it’s positive or negative.

When this scenario takes place after or during an event that’s painful or embarrassing, the child’s unconscious mind tries to avoid any similar experiences in the future in an attempt to save itself from that emotional pain.

So the mind creates some sort of restrictive belief and/or fear in an attempt to understand what just happened or avoid that same situation again.

*Important Note: To the unconscious mind, NOT knowing why something happened is actually more uncomfortable than adopting the negative, limiting belief! ;-(

Example of a Disempowered Meaning:
Q: “Why does daddy yell at me?”
A: “I must not be good enough for him to like me.” (limiting belief)

Example of a Fear Being Created:
Q: "Why does mommy tell me to stop asking so many questions?"
A: "Asking questions gets me in trouble." (can become a lifelong fear of asking for what we want)

So as an empowered parent, do whatever you can to give your children positive, empowering meanings about everything they experience. And challenge any limiting beliefs immediately when you hear them in your children’s language.

Enjoy the journey!
Sean Smith

Author's Bio: 

Sean Smith, certified life coach and happily married father of two, teaches parents how to empower their children so they’ll grow up believing they can be, do and have whatever they want in life. For more resources to nurture your kids’ self-esteem and confidence, go to