Your teen comes home and tells you that they want to shave their head because it’ll look “cool.”
Your school-aged child wants to wear their pajamas to school.
Your toddler takes their pants off on the playground and is running around in their diaper.
Your 12-year-old wants to have a sleepover but her room is very messy and her dirty clothes are all over the floor.
What are your thoughts in response to each of these scenarios? Are you cringing? Do you automatically want to say no?
Do you tell your child, “Oh honey, what will people think?” Even if you don’t say it, do you think it and then communicate it with your tone and body language?
If so, your reaction is not really teaching your child to make better choices and form values that make sense. It’s actually teaching them that they’re not good enough as they are.
And that can have dire consequences when they get older.
What are you teaching your child when your frequent reaction to their behavior is that it’s embarrassing to you?
Or that what others think is more important than expressing themselves or doing what they want to do?
This is a belief that ran my life.
Growing up, my mother worried a lot about what other people thought. Her reactions and responses led me to form the belief that my value came from what other people thought.
It even affected my own parenting approach for a while.
My daughter Blake has always been an alternative child. She dyed her hair purple, wore big billowy pants, and was always just a little different from her peers. We lived in an affluent neighborhood and she shopped in the Goodwill!
Allowing Blake to be herself was very difficult for me because I was always worried about what she was wearing, how she looked, and what other people thought.
When I got rid of that belief it totally changed my life because it allowed me to be true to myself and be a better parent. Without worrying about what others thought, I allowed Blake to be herself. That resulted in a happier child and an adult who lives her life true to her values.
One of the questions I always ask my clients is, “Do you remember what the neighbors thought of you when you were little?”
Everyone responds, “No, I don’t.” They then realize that what the neighbors thought or didn’t think had no bearing on how their life turned out.
Now, I’m not saying what people think isn’t important, or will not have a consequence in your life, but your self-worth, your good-enough-ness and your importance is NOT a function of what other people think of you.
People admire my daughter Blake because she’s such a free spirit and so genuinely herself. They don’t judge her because as a young woman, she chose a unique lifestyle—to fish in Alaska part of the year and go to university and surf in Hawaii the other part of the year. People often tell her that they wish they had her life.
My point is this: if you’re worried about what other people think, you’re not thinking about what’s best for your child.
Instead of cringing about how your child’s hairstyle or clothing choices or quirky behavior reflects on you, ask yourself what would serve your child right now and contribute to their highest good?
And then ask your child to reflect on 2 powerful questions.
To me, this is one of the most important skills I teach parents:
Teach your child that before he or she does something, stop and ask these 2 questions:
This can apply in all sorts of situations, but especially serious ones, such as:
You see, you don’t want your kids to make bad decisions because of what other kids might think. You want to teach them to think about what the consequences might be of their choices.
Will I fall behind and have to do more work later?
Maybe I won’t get into the college of my choice if I do that.
I’ll get arrested for a DUI and have my license revoked.
If you teach your children at a very young age about consequences, you’ll be training your children to look inside themselves, or have an internal locus of control.
It allows your children to take responsibility for their lives, instead of going around worrying what other people think.
There’s a story I like to tell that illustrates the value of teaching children how to have an internal locus of control.
I was once at a retreat where one of the teachers told us a story about a priest that was teaching boys how to play a particular game.
He said, “If you really want to see if you’re strong, you have to punch another boy in the arm.” So the boys started punching each other in the arm.
Finally, one boy in the group that wasn’t participating came forward and said, “Stop! This is ridiculous!”
The priest walked over to the boy and said, “This is the boy who’s really strong. He’s the only one strong enough to tell the truth about something that was ridiculous.”
This story shows why it’s important to teach your children not to worry so much about what other people think and to take responsibility for their own choices instead.
Here’s a boy who stood up for what was right, instead of doing what everyone else was told, or thought was the cool thing to do.
He had confidence and courage to speak his truth.
How did he get this way? He probably had parents who had the skills to instill positive beliefs in him through the way they interacted with him. Their actions allowed him to conclude that what he thought and wanted mattered, and that he didn’t need approval from others in order to feel good about himself.
These are parenting skills that most of us aren’t born with. We aren’t taught these skills in school, either. Our parents usually model what they’ve learned from their parents, and for the most part, we interact with our children based on what we observed growing up.
Can you learn the skills that will help you raise a more confident, self-assured child? You can!
In my audio program, Parenting That Empowers: How To Ensure Your Child Becomes A Happy, Confident, Capable Adult, you’ll learn the skills and tools that will help you guide your child to making better choices for themselves without being influenced so much by peer pressure or what others think.
You’ll learn how to speak to them in a way that makes them feel capable, not powerless.
You’ll get tips on how to help your child develop self-esteem, solve their own problems creatively, and speak up for themselves when there’s an injustice in their lives.
You’ll also learn:
And much more.
Simply go to this link, read more about my program, and you can start listening to the audio in a matter of minutes, risk-free:Teach Your Child To Take Responsibility
Remember, you won’t always be there to tell your kids what to do. That’s why teaching them to take responsibility for their own choices NOW is so critical to their future.
I hope you agree.
P.S. As parents, we often want to fix things for our children, stop the crying and make the pain go away.
That’s why we so often make the mistake of either giving in to our child’s demands or yelling at our child to do something “because we said so.”
There’s a third option, and that is getting to the source of the problem. In Module 5 of Parenting That Empowers, you’ll learn why this skill is so critical, and can save you and your child unnecessary conflict. You’ll learn what questions are most effective to getting to the source of the problem, and more. It’s all here:Start Listening Now