How to Destroy Good Character Traits for Children: G-Z

Respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship

In the previous chapter of the character traits series, I explained about the beliefs we try to instill in our kids. We need to focus on encouraging the characters we want our children to have, not try to prevent the characters we don’t want them to have. If good character traits are like plants, the fear that your child will develop a bad character is like watering the plant with weed killer. The character will never grow. For good character to grow and flourish, we need to water it and give it nutritious and healthy fertilizer.

In the last chapter, we listed traits from A to F, that we want our kids to have. We talked about some of the major weed killers that prevent these good character traits from growing. This chapter will cover the traits from G to Z.

Generous – “Don’t be a sucker”, “People will take advantage of you”, “Why would you waste your time on that?”, “What will you get from helping them?”, “If you do things for people for free, they’ll expect you to do it for free forever”.

Gentle – Aggressive behavior and the use of force, threats and harsh discipline will prevent kids from developing gentleness as a trait. Saying things like, “Stop being a girl (for a boy)”, “I am make the rules. You do what I tell you or elseā€¦”.

Grateful – “You are ungrateful”, “It is not worth doing anything for you”, “I do things for you and you do not appreciate it”, “You need to beg me to do that”, “I am ashamed of you”, “I will help you only if you do what I tell you to do”.

This post is part 6 of 6 in the series Helping Kids Build Character

Do Parents Let Their Kids Play Violent Video Games?

Blame video games

Recently, I received a question from a mother who said her teenage kids wanted to watch violent video games and they claimed other parents allowed their kids to do so. They thought she was just being mean and ignorant of what was happening in the world. “I do not like the idea of them playing violent and sexist video games but I feel helpless”. Her idea was to design a questionnaire for parents and see if her teenagers were right. She asked me what I think of her idea. Here is what I wrote to her:

Your experience is quite normal and it is wonderful to read that there are people like you still out there, advocating for children to be engaging in healthy activities!

Feel free to set the rules in your house. Your teen is a teen. He does not set the rules. You do! He is welcome to make different rules in his house!

You don’t need a questionnaire to back up what you already know is right. You can be the captain of your own family ship, regardless of what other parents do.

Kids cannot buy their own games, computers, iPhones, etc. You have a lot more power than you think! I have clients who found amazing result when they put their kids on a technology diet for a week. Their kids were suddenly like new! If they can’t use your credit card and don’t know your PayPal password, you have nothing to worry about.

How to Destroy Good Character Traits for Children: A to F

Little girls dressed as snow white

In the last chapter, of the Helping Kids Build Character Series, I explained the nature of watering with weed killer. There are certain things we do as parents that prevent good character traits from developing.

If you want to encourage good character traits in your children, there are some important things you should do differently.

Here is a list of good character traits that will not develop in the presence of bad beliefs (“weed killers”). Read them. If there are phrases on the list that you recognize in yourself, try removing them from your day to day speech. See if you can replace them with more positive phrases.

Over the years, I have worked with many parents who succeeded in changing the seeds they were planting, from poisonous communication and planting helpful beliefs. Being a parent can be a burden and a blessing. If you were the one who watered your child’s character with weed killer (rather than nutritious water), only you have the power to change it.

Parents have an amazing power. I have seen many kids and coached many people about beliefs. Working with parents has always been the best solution because me telling a kid “your parents love you” is meaningless compared to a parent saying “I love you”.

This post is part 5 of 6 in the series Helping Kids Build Character

How Many Friends Can We Really Have?

150 is the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships

In today’s world, when you can have 4,000 “friends” on Facebook, it is hard to determine the true definition of friendship. Knowing 4,000 people (and even only 1,000) does not mean you are friends. It means you know of, or maybe even have been acquainted with, that many people. Sometimes, you share nothing in common other than you happen to have a mutual contact. You might not have even met!

Professor Robin Dunbar, an anthropologist at the University of London, tried to find the answer to the question “How Many Friends Can We Really Have?” He found that there is a limit to how many friends we can have with whom we can maintain meaningful relationships. Dunbar claimed that we can only have relationships with an average of 150 people for them to be considered stable, effective social relationships. This is called Dunbar’s Number.

Positive Character Traits for Children: Watering with Weed Killer

magnets of emotions stuck on a forehead

The previous Character Traits posts focused on what parents should say to instill positive character traits in their kids. Character traits are like plants or trees that grow over time – all they need is for parents to plant good beliefs as seeds and provide reinforcement as water. Unfortunately, some parents use weed killer as water. This ensures this plant will never grow big and strong and even makes room for some nasty “bad” plants to grow.

It is amazing how the seeds of character sown in childhood can have a long-term impact. Some of my grown up clients (aged 25 to 65) are being held back by some very old and poisonous trees that creep into everything they do. It is as if there is a space in the brain dedicated for each good trait. As soon as the area has been poisoned by weed killer, nothing good can grow there. If a person feels fundamentally inadequate, this becomes part of their identity. If anything were to suggest that they are adequate, they will subconsciously resist with all their might. The subconscious minds is a tricky thing and it takes time and courage to access and heal.

This post is part 4 of 6 in the series Helping Kids Build Character

How to Save Your Kids from The Consumerism Trap

The Consumerism Trap

The world we live in promotes consumerism all the time. Sometimes, I feel like I need to take my kids to live in a hut or a cave, far away from civilization if I want to prevent them from falling into the consumerism trap. Just recently, the big shopping center closest to us was rebuilt. It is now more than doubled in size. I often have meetings there, in one of the cafes. I always look at all the people rushing past and wonder to myself, “Don’t they have anything better to do than just spend money here?” Of course, my excuse for being there is that I came there for work!

The scariest thing is going to the supermarket with my kids. We buy most of our groceries from two different supermarkets. To get from one to the other, we need to cross the entire shopping centered, which is shocking. Every window tells you why you must have that dress and that you are nothing without those shoes and that you are not cool if you don’t buy this and that you are fat if you don’t use that product. It is completely shocking and terrifying. People we know talk about how they do not have enough money for basic things, and yet their kids seem to have the latest iPhones and the latest brand name jeans that they bought for a bargain at $140 at a half price sale. They are totally over the moon that they can help their kids be considered cool for that price.

My main problem is that this excitement will last for a week at most. After that, the cycle of “buy me!” will start again, because we live in a society that teaches children to be consumers. We live in a society that convinces kids (and their parents) that they are inadequate and that they need to shop in order to survive! It is a trap because it turns desires and wants into needs. It is a very strong, well oiled and sophisticated machine. It gives us that idea that “I can only be happy when I have this item”. As parents, we want our children to be happy from every teeny tiny thing they possibly can enjoy. We are helpless before such a well rehearsed trap.

Developing Good Character Traits for Children: H to Z

Little boy smiling in the sunshine

Good character traits are what every parent wants for their kids. We all know and believe that this can set them up for good, healthy, successful and happy lives. If we let go of the belief that character is something we are born with, something that is carved in stone, we realize that we, as parents, have the power to instill positive character in our kids.

We can give our kids those traits that they are going to need to run a happy and successful life, by instilling strong beliefs that support and build these good character traits.

In the last chapter, I gave examples of good character traits from A to G and what beliefs will support them. Here are the H- Z (well, H to W at least) traits and the beliefs that will support them.

This post is part 3 of 6 in the series Helping Kids Build Character

Healthy and Powerful Character Traits for Children: A to G

Parent watering a child

This saying is as true for grownups as it is true for kids. We are what we think. If you want to know who your kids are, ask them what they think of themselves. Whether they think they are smart or not, happy or not, friendly or not, they are always right.

If you want to build their character, you need to instill character-building thoughts in their minds. Their thoughts become words, their words become thoughts, and their thoughts become actions. These actions become habits that become their character. Their character determines their destiny.

As I said in the previous chapter, a belief is like a seed, if you repeat the belief over and over again, it is like watering the seed. When the child hears the belief expressed enough times, the seed develops strong roots and becomes a conviction, like, “I am a very responsible kid”. The child stops thinking of it as a behavior and it becomes a character trait, a personal quality that they possess, “I am a very responsible kid”.

Here are examples of thoughts that will help build your kids’ character. If he/she adopts these thoughts/beliefs, they will turn into character of time. It is important to talk to kids about their character, what it means to them and what it means to you. Give them examples of times when they have shown a particular trait in a nice way and how it helped them in life. If you cannot find examples from their life, give examples from your own life, when you showed this trait and how it helped you in life. This will make it is easier for them to adopt the trait.

This post is part 2 of 6 in the series Helping Kids Build Character

How to Be Happy in Life: The Happy To Do List

Happy to do list

Happiness is a choice! This is my motto in my life and in my work. I coach many people on how to make this choice and find their own happiness.

One of the strategies in bringing happiness into our lives is to get into good habits that make us pay more attention to the good things we already have. It makes us feel happy about what we have in life and attract more of it through our focus.

Together, my clients and I come up with a simple “happy to do list” – a list of things they can do to change their happiness level within 3 weeks. This list follows the rule that it only takes 21 days to make a habit.

This Happy To Do list is written in past tense. It’s more of a list of accomplishments to tick once they are achieved. When you go over it, instead of seeing things you still need to do, your focus is on your successes.

I promise that if you do this every day, then after three weeks, you will feel happier.

Helping Kids Build Healthy and Powerful Character Traits

Little girl with a doll

Many parents talk to me about their kids’ character traits and behavior. “He is a stubborn kid. He was always stubborn” or “She is a nag. She nagged from the first day she came home”. I wonder how much of what these parents are describing is real character (permanent and unchangeable) and how much of it we can change.

All kids are born with their unique character, a personality. This becomes really obvious when you have your second child. You realize that some of how they behave is just something they are born with. You notice that they have a certain character from the very first day you spend with them.

Unfortunately, not all character traits are wonderful and great. How they develop later on in life depends mainly on how we view these traits and how we react to them. For example, many parents treat their kids’ behavior as a result of a character trait. Since character is solid and fixed, they thing this behavior cannot be changed.

This post is part 1 of 6 in the series Helping Kids Build Character