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Do as I Say, Not as I Do. The Advice We Give to Children that We 'Should' Take Ourselves!

What advice do we give to children that we need to remind ourselves as adults?

10 Things we need to learn to 'Do as I say' as adults:


“ooh look, look what’s over here”

Adults distract children from tears and pain. How can we distract ourselves in a positive way?

We don't want to avoid things that are going on, we need to deal with things, however, a positive distraction can often give us a change in our headspace that can bring a welcome break, an opportunity to recharge the mental and emotional battery so that we can deal with 'stuff'.

What can we control in any situation and where are we placing our focus? We often spend time focusing on the problem rather than the solution and this can be a negative distraction. Placing our focus on the solution and the steps we are taking towards it can feel more positive and empowering.

In the same way that distraction helps children to switch from one emotion to another, it is important that we do the same.

It can be very easy to hold on to certain feelin

gs and emotions, even when they are not of use to us.

If the thoughts and feelings are negative and not helping the situation then try and distract yourself to switch your head space into one that is more positive, and one that is going to help you resolve and move through the situation you are in.


“Go and let off some of that energy and have some fun”

What do you do to have fun?

Children tend to be more active and their playtime is fun-filled and active, where are you finding opportunities to laugh, have fun and 'let off some steam'?

Research suggests that children laugh up to 300 times per day, which is miles off the average 17.5 times for adults.

We need to laugh more as adults, the physical and emotional benefits of laughter are important and we should be actively finding people or activities that are fun.

A good belly laugh is not just great for the soul. It releases 'feel-good' endorphins that can help decrease stress hormones, can increase immune cell activity and help relax muscles and release any tension we are holding.

Many mental, physical and emotional benefits just by having fun and a giggle.

Are you following the crowd?

“If they told you to jump off a bridge would you do it?”

Are you succumbing to peer pressure? Are you staying true to yourself and your ethics, morals and values?

Are you spending time and energy on the things that are important to you, or on things that are important to somebody else?

When you reflect on the time you spend, the activities you do, and the people you surround yourself with, are they taking you forward towards the person you want to become and the goals you want to achieve?

Are the people around you, the crowd you spend time with, helping you get there, or holding you back?

Time outside?

“The fresh air will do you good”

Do you take yourself outside at lunchtime for some fresh air, some vitamin D, and a quick walk around the block, car park or local park (if you are lucky).

There isn't a reward for working through the lunch break you are entitled to, and I suspect you don't get thanked for it either.

How much more productive would you be if you stepped outside for half an hour and took the time to re-energise and refresh?

Fresh air, vitamin D, being active, all contribute to a healthy mental, physical and emotional health.

Challenge Self Limiting beliefs

“Can’t was made to try”

"No such word as can’t".
"How do you know if you haven’t tried"
"Go for your dreams, you can be anything you want to be".
"You can’t …YET"

As children, we had parents, teachers, and adults to challenge any self-limiting beliefs that we had.

How often do you challenge these beliefs as an adult?

If you challenged and changed your internal conversation, how much more would you step outside of your comfort zone?

Are you allowing your self-awareness to hold you back?

The lack of self-awareness that children have is very refreshing. Be more like ‘Phoebe from Friends’ Run in whatever way you want, sing when you walk down the street, smile and say hello to strangers.

Stop worrying about what other people think of you, it really is none of your business!

Your bedtime routine is important!

“It can wait until morning; go to sleep!”

We get tired and grumpy just like toddlers and we don’t function well on lack of sleep either! Poor sleep can result in poor concentration and less productivity so sometimes leaving it until the morning is really not a bad idea!

How many reasons are you listing off as to why you can’t go to bed? Does it really have to be done right now or can it wait until morning?

Wind down before you plan to go off to sleep, slow the pace down so that you aren't hitting your pillow like an emergency stop. Put the DND functionality on your phone and let your brain start to wind down ready for a good night sleep.

Sleep has an impact across our mental, physical and emotional health. I would argue it is quite possibly the most important thing. Make it a priority and see where you can make some small changes to improve your quality and quantity of sleep.

Screen time should be limited

“That’s enough for one day”

How much time are you spending on your computer, watching TV or even computer games?

  • Could you benefit from having a screen time limit?

  • What could you be doing that is more productive?

  • Does this type of activity reduce your stress levels or increase them?

If you reduced your screen time activity by just 25% of the time, what else could you achieve, where could you re-invest this time?

How many things that you hear yourself saying that you don't have time for could you fit in if you had 25% more time?

There are a lots of benefits to winding down watching tv or playing computer games, however, you can have too much of a good thing, so check that the balance is right for you.

Ask lots of questions

“Because I said so”

Have you stopped asking questions because you don’t want to be seen as not having all the answers?

Maybe you are embarrassed when you have to ask ‘why’?

Ask, ask and ask again. Don’t hold back from asking, it is how you learn.

Be a critical thinker, challenge what you hear and look for the evidence base on both sides of the argument.

Approach life with that childlike curiosity. Let go of the need to know, of the need to be right, quieten your ego and allow yourself to listen, learn, question and understand.

We learn and we grow, as adults as much as when we are children, don't lose out on learning about yourself and the world because you stop asking questions.

Chores first, fun second

“but you found time to do the things YOU wanted to do”

This is definitely something that we do not grow out of when we reach adulthood.

I know that my inner voice mutters "I don't wanna" far more than I would care to admit!

Discipline >>> motivation

Start with the ‘need to do’ tasks before you do the things you want to do. 'Eat the frog' and get that one thing you keep putting off crossed off your list and out of the way.

Use the things that you want to do as a reward for getting the tasks on your to-do list done first.

I'm not sure any of us are immune from procrastination, there is often a reason why. If you are putting something off, be honest with yourself as to why you don’t want to do it, especially if it is a task you have set yourself!

Be nice

“If you have nothing nice to say then say nothing at all”

Be nice, be nice to people, be nice to people for no reason at all.

Being negative about other people fills your own head with negativity. It doesn’t feel nice, it isn’t nice to do, and people don’t like to spend time with people who do it!

Create a positive headspace for yourself by actively looking for the good in people, seek out the kindness in the world, and maybe consider completing regular acts of kindness.

Being kind releases those feel-good hormones, dopamine, serotonin and endorphins. Kindness is an act that gives back to you, as much as you give to others.

It is just as important to be nice to yourself! If you wouldn't say it to other people you certainly shouldn't be saying it to yourself. Check your inner conversation, and remind yourself that it is just as important to be kind to yourself too.

How many of these 10 do you walk the talk on?

Which one can you begin to focus on and challenge yourself to change?


Do you need to learn the skills and strategies that will help you cope better and get the most out of life?

Why not book a call and let's have a chat to see how Coaching might be able to help you?

First published Aug 2018

Revised and republished August 2022

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