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. The gist of what we have talked about so far is:
- Focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want.
- Talk about the negative behavior and not about them.
- Complaints are weed killers. They will stop good character traits from growing.
- Sarcasm is the worst weed killer.
- Fear is not a good way to instill good character traits. It only shows your kids how to do fear well.
- Do not threaten or scare your child (see rule #5).
- Do not shame, ridicule, humiliate, dishonor or condemn your kid to make them do what you want them to do.
- Do not force your child into things, abuse your power or lecture to death. (see rule #5).
- Do not try to convince yourself that they will thank you for it. They won’t.
- Do not use “fortune telling” to predict bad character traits if they do not do what you say. Leave your fortune telling skills to promote good character traits.
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”.
It becomes harder when your kids are no longer around. If your child is still living at home, take the opportunity to work your magic while you still can. If your kids are grown up and you are both set in your ways of communicating, read through the list anyways. Hopefully you won’t recognize the phrases. If you do, it is never too late to make positive changes. Parent coaching can be very helpful to bridge the gap.
Things that destroy good character traits in children
Here are some good character traits I’m sure you want your child to have. And here are some “weed killer” phrases that do just the opposite of being encouraging.
- Active – “move your bum and go outside. You are lazy and it will make you fat”
- Affectionate – “Stop being so emotional. If you show people you love them, they will take advantage of you”
- Ambitious – “You’ll never be able to get there/do it. You don’t have what it takes to do it. It is not for you”
- Adventurous – “You are such a Sissy”, “You are afraid of your own shadow”, “That’s too dangerous”, “I will not allow you to go there”, “That’s a stupid idea”, “Where did you get this idea from?”
- Assertive – “Keep your thoughts to yourself”, “I didn’t ask your opinion”, “I will tell you what to think/say”, ” I make the rules here”, “You live under my roof and will do what I tell you to do”, “You need to thank me for providing for you”, “You are nothing”
- Appreciative -“You are the child from hell”, “You are so stupid”, “Nothing good will come out of you”, “You don’t appreciate what you have”, “You are disrespectful”, “I do everything for you and you don’t appreciate me”, “Is this the thanks I get from you?”, ” It is not worth doing anything for you”
- Brave/Courageous – “Don’t be afraid”, “Stop behaving like a little kid”, “Be a man”, “t is not going to kill you”, “Stop being a chicken”, “Don’t be a girl”, “When I was your age, I did it in no time”, “I just need to throw you in the deep end, that’s the only way you’ll learn”
- Creative – “You and your stupid ideas”, “This is not the way to do things”, “That is not good enough”, “No one asked you for ideas”, “Every stupid kid could do that”, “Nothing special about it”, “You are not as good as you think you are”, “No one can make money from music”, “Why bother?”
- Considerate – “You are selfish”, “You only think of yourself”, ” There are other people in the house you know”, “Life is not about you only”, “You are the trouble maker in this house”, “You don’t care about anything around you”, “This is your house too”, “You are such a messy kid”, “I can’t stand your mess”
- Compassionate – “You are selfish and care about no one”, “Why do you care about people you don’t know?”, “I don’t care about other people”, “The probably deserved it”, “It is their fault”
- Confident – “I can never trust you to make the right choices”, “You have no confidence”, “You must think differently”, “You are a loser”, “You don’t stand a chance”, “You don’t really think you can do it, do you?”
- Cooperative – “Stop fighting with your brother”, “You are selfish”, “Kids don’t like being with you”, “No wonder they don’t want to play with you”, “You need to stop thinking about yourself”, “You are a sore loser”, “You are not a good sport”
- Careful – “You are scared”, “Just do it”, “How long can you debate this?”, “You never think things through”, “Next time, do what I tell you to do and it won’t happen”, “Next time, listen to your dad”, “This is your fault”, “What a stupid decision!”
- Cheerful – “You are bitter and angry”, ” Your life is not happy”, “No one wants to be with you”, “If you behave like that, no one would want to be like you”, “Stop jumping up and down”, “Stop being negative about life”, “You are so negative” “Life is not that bad”, “Don’t take things so seriously”
- Curious – “Do not get your nose into things that are not yours”, “It is none of your business”, “No one asked you” “You can’t do ice skating and dance and flute” (why not?)
- Charismatic – “Your friends don’t like you. What do you think that means?”, “You are not that funny”, “People will like you only if you…”
- Crafty – “That’s OK, but it is not perfect”, “A person doesn’t look like that in real life”, “Try harder”, “Keep working on it until it is good”, “Don’t show it to anyone until it is perfect”, “It takes a long time to learn how to do that“
- Calm – “I will not talk to you until you calm down”, “That is your problem”, “If you do that again, I will take away your computer time”, “I don’t accept this kind of behavior”, ” You can’t talk to me like that”, ” If you dare do that again, I will…”
- Capable – “I can never trust you to do something”, “This is so simple, why can’t you do it?”, “There is no point, you’ll never get this”, “You are useless”, “Look at your brother and be like him”, “I will help you only if…”, “Nothing will come out of you”
- Decisive – “I’ll tell you what to do”, “Next time, you listen to me when I tell you what to do”, “This is what happens when you don’t listen to me”, “Will you make up your mind already!”, “Will you stop making a big thing out of this and make up your mind”, “It is not a life and death thing, just pick one and that’s it”, “The choice is very clear here”, ” This is the only thing you can do”, ” Every stupid person would know what to do about this”
- Efficient – “I can’t trust you to manage your time”, “If I count on you, I’ll be in deep trouble”, “Why did you do it like that!?”, “There are so many better ways to do this”, “This is not good enough”, “It was a waste of time”, “Why did you waste your time on this?”
- Encouraging – criticizing, perfectionism, complaints, guilt feelings, demands, and threats will create a very scared kid that will not be able to encourage others. Mainly because he/she doesn’t have a good model of encouragement. “You are not good enough”, “Why didn’t you get 100% on your exam?”, “You should be ashamed of yourself”, “This is my money. You eat my food and live under my roof therefore you should do whatever I tell you to do”
- Enthusiastic – “Don’t be so eager”, “It is nothing”, “It is not that important”, “This hobby is a waste of time”, “This hobby will not give you a job”, “I only pay for things I think are important for your schooling. Soccer is not important”
- Easy-going – “You are selfish”, “No one wants to play with you”, “It’s no wonder no one wants to play with you”, “You are a sucker”, “Next time, you tell them that you won’t join them if they don’t play your game”, “Why are you hanging around with them if they don’t do what you want?”, “I will tell you what to do”
- Fair – “You are the eldest in the house, I expect you to give it to Tommy”, “I am the father of the house so you do what I tell you to do”, “I am the parent and I make the rules here and if you don’t like it, you can leave”, “I work very hard all day so I get to chose what we watch on TV”, “In this house, we do things my way or the highway”
- Friendly – “You don’t know what good friends are”, “No one likes you”, “If I was your friend, I would never play with you either”, “Friends do not exist”, “I would not trust anyone”, “Friends will betray you”, ” I would not tell my friends everything, you never know when they will use it against you”
- Funny – Sarcastic parents confuse insult with humor. “That’s not funny”, “You are not that funny”, “Stop being a clown”
Join me in the next chapter for the G to Z traits that will never grow if you shower your child with weed killers.
Until next time, happy aware parenting,
This post is part of the series Helping Kids Build Character:
- Helping Kids Build Healthy and Powerful Character Traits
- Healthy and Powerful Character Traits for Children (A to G)
- Developing Good Character Traits for Children: H to Z
- Positive Character Traits for Children: Watering with Weed Killer
- How to Destroy Good Character Traits for Children: A to F
- How to Destroy Good Character Traits for Children: G-Z
- Kids’ Personality Traits: How to Change Them with Awareness
- Character Traits: Swapping the Bad for the Good