As Adults, whenever we’re around our Kids, we tend to slip into “lecture mode” sooner or later. And despite the rift that it causes in the relationship, we convince ourselves that it’s the right way to go. After all, isn’t it your duty to impart this Wisdom onto them at some point?
Otherwise, they’ll probably get abducted by Aliens, be taken to some strange planet light years from here and be condemned to a life of healthy eating, regular exercise and 80s sitcoms.
But the truth of the matter is when our Kids grow up and are left to their own devices, they’re gonna live near identical lives to ours anyway, right down to the types of foods they eat, how they speak, the way they walk, how active/inactive they are, how healthy they’ll be, the sort of person they’ll marry, how they treat their spouses, the types of drugs they sniff (or don’t sniff), the way they laugh, cry, sneeze, cough, giggle, and burp etc.
Therefore, a more effective approach would be to correct OUR behavior instead (especially with things we’re trying to keep under wraps).
If you’re skiing straight into a crevasse, you can’t just “tell” the skis to stop or go in another direction. The corrective measure has to come from you. Then the skis will follow.
But unlike with Skis that don’t have the ability to record and recall memories, Children take in and imprint what they’ve been told either in a positive or a negative light, often for the rest of their lives.
So, all that blame and criticism is doing is crippling their self-esteem and confidence. And all what Children “hear” in the process is “we don’t love you” and “we don’t care about you”.
This ultimately forces them to reach out to external influences to fill the shoes that their well-meaning Parents are neglecting to fill in a meaningful way.
External influences can be great if they’re positive and productive.
But when we’re at a tender age, we rarely make the most enlightened of decisions, especially in picking who to hang out with. And for the most part, we would do almost anything to “fit in”and feel accepted.
So, some of these external influences can get our Kids into a whole lot of trouble, starting with drugs, pregnancies, strange looking footwear, bad hairstyles to serial piggy bank robberies.
So, how do you win over your Kids AND be a positive influence in their lives at the same time?
1. Be Cool
Step into their World and FULLY comprehend what makes their World turn. Find out the type of video games they like, the type of shows they like, what their hobbies are, what sort of gadgets they’re into, what their sense of humor is like, and what they like to talk about etc.
Then spend a good amount of time fitting into their World. Wear the same blinking sneakers as they do (whilst being careful not to show up to work in them), try out their “weird snacks” and even go to some of their Music Concerts if you get invited.
At the same time, never compromise your values or the way you speak, as this serves as the nutrition that’s been fed into them unsuspectingly to mold their personality and character. To them, the whole experience would taste like just another Milkshake, but you know otherwise.
2. Be awesome
Let go of EVERYTHING that’s not causing anyone any harm. Obviously, if they’re trying to teach the Dog to walk on fire (after having seen it at a Tony Robbins Seminar) or is constantly decorating your pet Turtle’s shell with Crayons and Toothpaste or is trying to Catapult your Cat to a different part of town as part of a science experiment, then you would need to step in and take measures to correct that behavior.
But do it from a place of love and let them know what the consequences would be without breaking into a lecture. For instance, if you’re concerned about their little Science experiment, say something like “If you catapult the Cat to a different part of Town, we may never see it again”. But if they do it regardless and you suddenly receive a collect call with a “barricade of agitated mews” coming from the other end, and you could tell from the broad smile on your Kid’s face that they’re likely to do it again, then communicate your displeasure by simply taking away something that they value, for a few days or a few centuries(depending on the Crime). This can be as simple as banning one of their favorite TV shows or video games or taking away one of their favorite toys for a brief period of time.
But NEVER punish them, if you can clearly see that they had learned their lesson. In fact, Children (much like us) learn best from their mistakes. So allow them the luxury of making mistakes, even costly ones, as long as they’re not putting anyone’s well-being at risk. And, if the price of their mistake leads to pain and frustration, be there to nurse their wounds and to play a more empathetic and supportive role.
At the same time, aim to develop a relationship with your Kids in such a way, that they can open up to you freely on just about anything. And be there to answer any of the questions that they may have for you, ACCURATELY. If you don’t know the answer to something, instead of sharing your opinion, find out and get back to them on a later date. But never loose your Cool over topics that come up or over confessions that don’t appeal to you.
Kids learn to lie in their formative years as a defense mechanism to keep themselves safe and to prevent being ostracized from the family. Yep. That’s how much of an emotional impact blame and criticism has on Children. In fact, the only thing that tops that is having to live through a Parental divorce or breakup, which is a trauma that grows over time and affects many individuals for the rest of their lives.
Brian Tracy had a rule for his Kids (who’re all grown up now), and that is to never punish them if they tell him the Truth, no matter what.And that’s paid off for him (and his Kids) in spades.
3. Be cautious
Be cautious of the input that goes into your Child’s mind.
Whilst the occasional TV show, is a great way to wind down, much of TV is now focused on feeding us with the most heinous and destructive of images in an effort to “stay on the air”.
The Worst culprit of the lot is commercial News Media, who are in the business of collecting the juiciest pieces of garbage from around the globe and dumping them straight into our living rooms.
In other words, what we see in the news, is as accurate of a representation of the World as judging a Racehorse, solely by his muck.
If many us are afraid to go into the Bathroom by ourselves after watching the news, what sort of an impact do you think they would have on our Kids?
So instead, get into the habit of watching shows that inspire you, make you giggle and dazzle, feel better and feel invigorated.
And for goodness sake, get rid of those cable subscriptions and channels that are less than helpful. But don’t make the mistake of imposing those restrictions just on them. Double standards always backfire eventually. What Kids are knowingly deprived of, they’ll move heaven and earth to fulfill in one form or another. And when limiting options, be sure to leave a plentiful selection available for everyone at all times, so that no one feels deprived.
4. Be Lovable
The main reason why Kids get into intimate relationships too early and end up getting pregnant is due to the lack of physical touch they receive from their Parents and due to the lack of Parental approval.
Most Parents don’t hug their Kids, let alone smile at them. In fact, Kids nowadays have book appointments in advance for a “Parental smile”.
Children are much like Roses. So, they need BOTH Sunshine and Rain every single day. If they’re deprived of either, they start to wither. So, when Children see their homes as a place of unconditional love, warmth, and acceptance, that’s what will get imprinted in their hearts and minds. And therefore, that’s what they’ll eventually manifest into their own lives as well when they had flown the nest.
So, hug your spouse (backed with long ‘PG rated’ kiss), and then hug your Kids every day, regardless of their age and even if it means handcuffing them and reading them their rights. Obviously, if your kids are already over 90, this may not be as effective.
Also, make it part of your daily ritual to pour compliments into their lives. Let them know how proud you’re of them. And brag about their good traits to other people and overlook all the bad ones. People usually rise or fall according to the expectations of their peers (or appointed peers).