Today, Mom’s Choice Awards is proud to announce that we’re introducing a new series of interviews with some of the masterminds behind our favorite family-friendly products. As part of our interview series, we’ll talk to CEOs, product designers, publishers, and more!
For our first installment, we’re excited to have had the opportunity to chat with Susan Lustenberger, the creator of the I AM Technique. The I AM Technique bundle recently won a Mom’s Choice Award®. It is a ten minute daily audio system that helps to restore self-esteem in young children, preteens, and teens so they can grow into thriving adults. We were fascinated by what Susan had to say about positivity and the I AM Technique.
MCA: What prompted you to start the I AM Technique and how did it begin?
SL: I developed the I AM Technique as a high accelerator program for athletes and executives 10 years ago, but when one of my children had a life changing experience that left them a shell of the confident happy teenager I knew, everything shifted. I realized that the most important priority I had as a mom was to raise happy, confident children. I thought I was doing that, but you can’t control what happens out in the world and sometimes you can’t even explain it. I realized that even when we think we’ve done it all, what we’re doing as parents might not be enough. I had to do something, not only for my children, but for all of the children I saw that were suffering so bad with stress, negative self behaviors and skewed self images. Our children have so much stress and such high demands at such early ages and they have very little or no positive independent structures in place to support and maintain self-esteem and confidence through it all. I began reworking the framework of The I AM Technique to provide children with the neural pathway reconditioning I had been using before, but centered completely around each age group’s self-esteem and self-confidence and I super boosted it with positive loving affirmations.
MCA: What’s the first piece of advice you give to parents trying to improve their child’s confidence?
SL: Talk to them as if they have already made you more proud than you could have ever imagined, not in a “perma-grin” kind of way, but really anchored into the good they have done. I see so many parents talk to their kids in constant lecture mode or “You could do better” mode. For example; when a parent spends money on their child, whether it’s for competitive sports, college, or other milestones, they tend to say “go make me proud.” what they need to say is “You make me so proud!” This shifts the neural pathways from negative self doubt and pressure, to a positive self confident belief system that they have already accomplished making their parents proud and when children come from that place, they easily achieve more and have much more self esteem.
MCA: What types of things do you see outside of the household that affect children’s confidence and self-esteem?
SL: Social media for sure. Kids can’t just come home and get a break from the social pressures that they have while in school. They are exposed to this non- stop. Even if a family has social media or tech rules in place, these kids have true anxiety and stress over missing out or being out-casted if they don’t keep up and keep involved. If there is negativity going on at school, it comes home with them, they just can’t get away from it.
School also has an effect. Last year, my daughter came home with a paper due on sex trafficking. She had to write the paper from the perspective of the perpetrator; she was 13. There are things that our children are learning about in school that we just didn’t. While it’s brilliant that our children are learning about really important issues in the world, they are being exposed to a reality that the world they live in is really really scary.
MCA: That brings up an interesting point. Obviously school is really important for kids, but it’s also true that as parents, we aren’t really in control of everything our children experience at school. So how can parents counter negativity encountered in school or on social media? To what extent can/should parents be involved in those things?
SL: I believe that parents should be as involved as they can be with setting up open expectations from the very minute of allowing your child to engage on social media. However, This is the culture of being young and wanting freedom, so the challenge lies in the mastery of social media by kids and teens and the lack of mastery by parents. As a parent of a child with social media, I believe it is our responsibility to learn the ins and out of the apps our kids are using. The most powerful thing parents can do to counteract all of the negativity children are exposed to, is to give the child a positive and open place to discuss those things without judgment or making the child feel like those topics are taboo. Slow them down and let them fall into the natural rhythm of who they are. Teach them that our paths are our own to cultivate and give them the self-esteem and confidence so they think that way. That is why The I AM Technique is such an amazing support; it is the perfect positive counterbalance right in the privacy of kids’ own ear buds.
MCA: To what extent do positive / negative words affect self-esteem?
SL: In an article in Psychology Today, Mark Waldeman writes that, “just seeing a list of negative words for a few seconds will make a highly anxious or depressed person feel worse, and the more you ruminate on them, the more you can actually damage key structures that regulate your memory, feelings, and emotions. You’ll disrupt your sleep, your appetite, and your ability to experience long-term happiness and satisfaction.”
When a person has had long term exposure to negative words, it actually takes about five positive phrases to one negative phrase to bring the person to a state of neutral. The pressures of today’s kids, teens and young adults are extreme. This combined with the non-stop exposure of negative words, images, and violent entertainment creates a damaged and fear-based neural pathway. Left unchecked, this creates anxiety, depression, and cortisol/adrenal malfunctions. Negativity, even in the form of entertainment, compromises the subconscious of the growing brain. If young adults have not had the support of continual positive messaging, they are left very vulnerable and face higher risk of turning to alcohol and drugs as a release. The problem with that is that negative words such as fear, hate, kill, guilt make up more than 50% of our working vocabulary, positive words make up 30% and neutral 20%. Even more disturbing is that throughout the world the words that are “universal” have even more disturbing stats.
Studies of 37 different languages turned up seven words that have very similar meanings. They are joy, fear, anger, sadness, disgust, shame and guilt. Seven words, and only one positive! Isn’t that unthinkable?
MCA: Lastly, could you briefly describe what the I AM Technique Bundle includes?
SL: The Bundle is the entire library of The I AM Technique. It spans from 6 years to 20+. It is broken down into 4 modules, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20 and 21+.
Each module is complete with two 10-minute age appropriate audios: 1 upbeat for daytime use and 1 for just before bed that is set to relaxing ocean waves. These 10 minute audios are created using a four layer approach: positive affirmations laid over age appropriate music, with positive subliminal affirmations laid underneath, and finished off with binaural beats to support stress reduction, anti-anxiety and anti-depression.
In addition to the two audios, each module comes with two guided visualization/ meditations to create a space where the child can tune in and relax within the safety and imagination of their own mind.
Thanks to Susan Lustenberger for taking the time to chat with us! You can find visit the I AM Technique website here.