Working with parents and kids I have seen the little ones (and older kids) totally deflate when mom or dad parents or interacts a particular way. There are 15 arrows that always pierce the tender hearts of our kids. Let’s put these weapons down.
If you want to break your child’s heart and crush his spirit, do these 15 things:
- Discipline in anger. “You are grounded for life.”
- Criticize rather than correct. “That’s a stupid way to solve that problem.”
- Lecture rather than discuss. “Blah, blah, blah…”
- Express unreasonable expectations. “You are two and you need to sit perfectly still during church.”
- Compare one sibling to another. “Your sister was able to ______.”
- Bring up past failures. “Remember when you _______.”
- Use sarcasm. “Yah, right, you are so smart.”
- Kill joy. “You could have done even better if you had_______.”
- Shame. “You are so clumsy.”
- Broadcast failures. “You can’t believe what my son did.”
- Blame. “It’s your fault I ran the red light.”
- Present yourself as perfect. “When I was your age I never _______.”
- Steal success. “You got your talent from my side of the family.”
- Don’t admit wrong doing.“I’m the parent. I’m always right.”
- Never ask for forgiveness. (Ditto number 13.)
As parents we typically have two goals, a short term goal (typically behavior) and a long term goal ( character building). In my parenting courses I encourage moms (and dads) to use a positive, proactive, and purposeful approach with their kiddos. Work toward training kids regarding the preferred behavior and start providing opportunities to grow desirable character traits in those moments.
The traits of humility, confidence, empathy, and kindness can be encouraged and grown in our kids when we demonstrate them ourselves, pray for those qualities in ourselves and in our kids, and give our kids the support they need to develop those traits.
We are holding our child’s heart and spirit in our hands. Let’s hold on firmly and tenderly so he or she can flourish to be the person God created him or her to be. Even when we mess up it isn’t too late— we can always adjust our approach by asking for forgiveness and beginning anew today.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13: 4-8
This article originally appeared at The Mom Initiative.