5 Common Mistakes Kids Make When They Fight
Recently, my daughter had a disagreement with one of her good friends. She didn’t like the way he had treated his girlfriend, another one of my daughter’s friends. But rather than calling him or sitting down with him to discuss the issue, she posted about it on social media. Of course, this did not go well and created a whole new set of issues.
Kids are immature. As much as we would like them to always think through situations and make great decisions, it just isn’t natural for them to do that. That’s why they have us. We have a responsibility to help guide them and prepare them for the conflict they eventually will face. Here are 5 common mistakes kids make when they fight.
1. They take it to social media.
Kids communicate through social media. Whether we like it or not, it’s a fact we have to accept. When they are frustrated, their first instinct can be to post about the problem on social media. We need to have conversations with them and teach them to consider alternatives like talking to a friend or parent about the issue or addressing the issue with the person directly, whether face to face, in a phone conversation, or even through a thoughtful email.
2. They don’t listen before speaking.
Our kids have very real and strong emotions. When they become emotional, they want to express how they are feeling. This instinct is so strong that they tend to speak before they listen. This leads to situations where they give an opinion after jumping to conclusions and without considering the other side of the story. Unfortunately, adults do this as well, so we need to be mindful to set the right example.
3. They don’t realize that different opinions aren’t necessarily wrong.We need to remind our kids to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and to value another’s perspective.
There are always at least two sides to every story. This is something our kids often struggle to understand. They can feel so passionately about their perspective that they can’t imagine anyone having a conflicting yet valid point. We need to remind our kids to put themselves in someone else’s shoes—that’s when they’ll realize there may be value to another perspective.
4. They don’t understand that some battles are worth the fight, but some are not.
As our kids grow, we will have many instances when we are proud of them for standing up for what they believe. There will also be times when they are fighting a battle they cannot win or fighting for a cause that isn’t worth the emotional effort.
When we see them sticking up for a friend or teammate, this is a battle worth fighting. But when they are threatening to quit the soccer team because they want to wear red socks rather than white socks, we may need to step in and talk to them.
5. They don’t realize that what’s done is done, and there is a time to move forward.
We all have a hard time moving on from a conflict. This is even more difficult for kids, especially when they don’t get the resolution they are looking for. But we need to teach them that there is a point at which they need to move on.
When my kids were younger my son broke my daughter’s favorite water bottle. She was angry and hurt. He offered a sincere apology, but her anger remained. We had to sit down and discuss the fact that her anger wouldn’t fix the bottle and that he had no way to replace it. There was no reason to remain angry. She needed to move on.
Sound off: How do your kids deal with conflict?
5 Deceptively Destructive Messages We Send Our Kids
I remember the first time I realized I’d taught my daughter something destructive. She was talking about a friend who was really needy. This person kept taking advantage of my daughter, who wouldn’t set boundaries. It frustrated me. “Why do you think it’s wrong to tell people no?” I asked her. However, the moment the words left my lips, I knew the answer—she learned it from me. I (and her mother) regularly talk about the need to love people. We taught her that sacrificing is part of what it means to be Christians, so in our family, sacrificing for others is expected. I had accidentally taught my daughter a lesson that might sound noble but is destructive when misunderstood.
Parenting is hard. The intricacies of forming a person are, at times, maddening in their complexity. How we use our language in shaping our people is one of those intricacies. Sometimes, with the words and phrases we use, we intend to motivate, to inspire, to pass along truth. And while many of the words we use are good, there are some that I believe are actually destructive messages we send our kids. It’s subtle, but we need to be cognizant of what we’re really saying when we say these 5 things.
1. You can be anything you want to be.
This sounds freeing, but in fact, it can become a source of anxiety for our kids. Malcolm Gladwell talks about the inverse relationship between the amount of choice we have and our level of happiness. It turns out having unlimited choices simply creates anxiety. Additionally, it’s not true! Your child is wired to be good at some things and bad at others.
Instead, try “You were designed to be a gift to the world. Part of the joy of life is discovering your unique contribution.”
2. I just want you to be happy.
This seems like a given. Of course we want our kids to be happy. But is happiness the end game? Is it really enough? This is one of the destructive messages we send our kids because there are many things that can impact our children’s happiness beyond our control and certainly beyond theirs. Not to mention some people find great joy in something that actually causes other people pain. Is that what you want for your child?
A far better hope for our children than being happy is being good. In our home, we believe that, as Jesus said, “No one is good but God alone.” So to be good is to live in the world reflecting God’s character as we each were intended. Therefore, we would much rather say, “I want your life to reflect the character and image of God.” What do you think would be a better message than “I just want you to be happy?”
3. Keep busy and you’ll stay out of trouble.
There’s some truth to this, practically speaking. There’s a reason why a saying like “idle hands are the devil’s playthings” came about. And yet, more than ever we have crafted lives for our kids in which they don’t know what to do with downtime. You and I were created to need rest. This is one of the destructive messages we send our kids because it creates a negative relationship with leisure and rest when both are necessary for human flourishing.
Instead, say, “Orient your life around things that matter. Choose to do work you’re proud of and that makes the world better.”
4. Ignore people who are mean to you.
Out of a desire to protect our children, we sometimes instruct them simply to avoid people who are unkind. This isn’t entirely wrong. We do want our kids to have good boundaries, and it’s certainly not in their best interest to be in relationships with people who are unkind. At the same time, we can develop in our children a sense that an unkind person is a lost cause, someone to exclude.
However, what if instead, we believed our children have the power to impact people with their kindness? What if we said, “Love your enemies. Do good to those who are unkind to you?”
5. You’re gifted.
I have a child who is labeled “gifted” by the school. She’s smart, she’s disciplined, she’s talented. I’m glad there are programs that help her utilize her gifts to the fullest. But the way we think of “gifted” in the public school system is incredibly narrow. Don’t all people have gifts to offer? Why is my child who is academically bright but lacks a lot of common sense more “gifted” than the child who navigates complicated situations well but struggles with higher-level math? The problem isn’t that we use the phrase but that we use it selectively.
Keep telling your child he or she is gifted. Just make sure you tell your other children—even the ones struggling in school—that they are gifted too. Their gifts are just different ones.
Sound off: Are there any other destructive messages we send our kids?
The post 5 Deceptively Destructive Messages We Send Our Kids appeared first on All Pro Dad.
3 Character Traits to Affirm in Your Kids
Being the son of a Marine, the values in my home were similar to the values of the Corps—respect and honor, work ethic, faithfulness, devotion, humility, and commitment, just to name a few. We are told life is about the journey, not the destination. But most people only see our best moments because that’s what we post to social media. Very few see the journey, yet all high-five us for arriving at the finish line.
While it is important for us to praise our kids in healthy ways regarding their achievements, it’s even more important to build up the character traits that lead to those achievements. Here are 3 positive character traits for kids that will encourage them to be among the few, the proud.
If we’re going to raise our kids to be strong individuals, we must teach them to remain true to their morals and values. The Marines go by the following code: Semper Fi—always faithful. It’s important to teach what it means to be faithful, being devoted to something greater than ourselves, encouraging them to follow their moral compass. If they stay the course until the end, success won’t be far behind. We should applaud our kids’ consistency. Praise them when they do chores without being reminded every 30 seconds to do them. Celebrate that they didn’t rage-quit a game they’ve tried to win for weeks. Tell them you’re proud when they tell the truth even though it would have been easier to blame a younger sibling for breaking a dish. There is no medal or trophy for having integrity, but the kids who earn medals and trophies don’t usually do it without that trait.If they stay the course until the end, success won’t be far behind.
Michael Jordan faced stress as a kid getting cut from his high school basketball team. Stephen King was a long-suffering English teacher before he published his first book. Anybody who’s achieved anything has struggled first. So I’ve been vulnerable in front of my kids about my own struggles at work, which lets them know that life can be hard sometimes. But we can overcome and learn how to fight through it rather than avoid it. When we praise them for being resilient at school, in their jobs, and in relationships, especially when times get tough, they’ll believe they can get through.
This word means something different than you think: a voluntary choice to take responsibility for others, identify with them, and carry their burdens. As parents, we submit to our kids every day. Taking responsibility for them, identifying with them, and carrying their burdens is the toughest job in the world. The key to this form of submission: It’s voluntary. Forced submission has never ended well and usually leads to a lot of unhealthy relationships. But when a dad makes the choice to submit, he’s setting an example for his kids to follow. It’s like an athlete who voluntarily stays after practice to watch film even after the coaches have left, or Kobe arriving at school two hours early to play pick-up games with his classmates in the gym. The choice to submit demonstrates a willingness to take responsibility for the team, identify with them, and take on the burden to better yourself and your teammates. When a dad models submission, the home becomes stronger.
Sound off: What positive character traits for kids do you think are important to teach?
5 Signs You Are Missing the Mark as a Dad
Not long ago, I was online trying to diagnose an issue with my wife’s car when I noticed my daughter standing beside me yelling, “Dad!” “You need to stop yelling,” I said in an angry tone. Then my wife stepped in and pointed out that my daughter had been trying patiently to get my attention for a while before resorting to yelling.
It’s easy to get involved in my own world, worrying about an issue at work or being focused on the game I’m watching. Unfortunately, this often distracts me from the more important job of being the best dad I can be. So am I a bad father? Are you? Not necessarily. But here are 5 signs you are missing the mark as a dad.
1. You don’t know your kids’ friends.
As our kids get older, they spend more and more time with their friends and less time with us. When our kids start talking about their friends and we don’t recognize some or all of the names, it should be a warning sign. It shows that we haven’t been having meaningful conversations with them about their daily lives.
2. Your kids don’t want to tell you about their day.
We have a responsibility to know what’s going on with our kids. There can be a variety of reasons why they may not want to talk to us about their day. Regardless of the reason, we need to move past it and open the communication. They need to know that we are interested in them and that we are there to help them when they need to have a difficult conversation. If they aren’t talking to us, who are they going to talk to?
3. Your kids don’t treat their mother and other adults respectfully.If our kids aren’t respecting their mother, we need to look at how we treat their mother.
As dads, we need to make sure our kids are respectful. This starts by setting the example. If our kids aren’t respecting their mother, we need to look at how we treat their mother. The second step is to make sure we are vocal about their treatment. If we see our kids disrespecting their mother, we need to step in and let them know it is unacceptable.
4. Someone criticizes your parenting.
Any time we get criticized, whether by a friend or your wife or ex-wife or your parents or in-laws, it is natural to become defensive—especially when we are talking about something as personal as parenting. But if we are interested in being the best dads we can be, we must be willing to listen to criticism and look at it objectively to determine if we need to make an adjustment.
5. You realize you don’t do any activities with your kids.
We won’t always have the same interests as our kids. In many cases, our interests may be very different. However, if we want to have a close relationship, we need to make an effort. That might mean playing a video game we don’t like or watching a sport we don’t understand. But when we go out of our way to spend time with our kids, we get a glimpse into their world, which helps us relate.
Sound off: What signs have told you that you need to make a change as a dad?
What to Do After You Lose Your Temper
As a coach, I always did my best to keep my emotions in check. I always tried to speak to my players calmly when I communicated what they needed to do. So this might surprise you: Believe it or not, I have a lot of experience with repairing relationships after blowing up or losing my temper with my kids. I have plenty of patience in other areas, but my kids seem to erase my patience quickly.
Many dads can understand my experience. We want to communicate to our kids calmly and clearly, but then we get frustrated and lose our cool. So what do you do when that happens? How can you bring healing to the relationship? Here is the most important thing to do when you lose it with your child.
Apologize.If we want our kids to do something, we need to model it first.
It’s hard for us as men to do, but we have to model the right things to our kids. We consistently ask our kids to apologize when they are wrong. If we want our kids to do something, we need to model it first. So tell them you are sorry for yelling and then you can get back to correcting their behavior. However, if you don’t apologize after doing something wrong, then whatever words you use to correct them will be hollow.
Earn some points: Are you married? If so, share this iMOM article with your wife: 7 Things to Do Instead of Yelling at Your Kids.
Sound off: What do you do after losing your temper with your kids?
4 Reasons Not to Be the Cool Dad
I don’t know about you, but I think I’m a pretty cool dad. I grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, when we had things like Walkmans, the birth of the World Wide Web, Bob Saget on America’s Funniest Home Videos, and Nintendo 64. I even had what it took to survive the Oregon Trail. I’m sure, like you, I’ve only grown in my coolness. But recently, I think my preteen son is starting to think I’m not so cool. And that’s most likely on him, because he just doesn’t understand what cool is. Right? Right. Fine—fortunately, being cool isn’t required to being a great dad.
I believe a lot of dads think being cool is a necessity for good parenting. I’ve seen a lot of dads trying to be their kids’ friends and seeking to ensure their kids are never uncomfortable or feel pain. They believe if they’re cool, their kids are going to like them and that that’s the definition of good parenting. Unfortunately, this is setting their kids up for hard lessons and potential failure in the future. Here are 4 reasons NOT to be the cool dad.
1. Your kids don’t need you to be cool.
When kids hit the preteen and teen years, everyone around them is making every possible effort just to be “cool.” Your kids see people pretending to be things they aren’t and when a dad does this just to be cool, it sends the wrong message to his kids. Your kids need a role model. Be someone who is confident and knows who he is.
2. Your coolness doesn’t add what you think it does.Kids need someone to guide them, to let them know when they’re heading in the wrong direction.
Many dads think if they can be the cool dad, it will help their kids. They try being cool by giving their kids whatever they want and never telling them no. They think kids need freedom and comfort. But what kids need is structure. Structure allows kids to feel a sense of belonging and safety. Kids need someone to guide them, to let them know when they’re heading in the wrong direction. Be a dad who sets good boundaries for your kids.
3. Your effort to be cool is actually hurting your kids.
Kids need a parent and many times this means you’re not going to be cool with them all the time. Kids need someone who is going to love them unconditionally, who isn’t afraid to push back when they’re making mistakes. That’s not always seen as cool in the moment, but if you do it right, one day your kids are going to thank you for not being cool! Again, this means being comfortable in your role as a dad and often, it also means tough love.
4. Your kids need a great dad.
Your role is unlike any other role in the universe for your kids. It’s unlike any other relationship your kids will ever have. You are a provider, protector, advocate, guide, mentor, discipliner, and more. Your kids don’t need a great friend who’s cool all the time. They need a great dad to simply be their dad. From birth to age 10, our kids are going to think we’re amazing and can do nothing wrong! Once they get into those preteen years and older, we’re most likely going to be anything but cool to them. And that’s OK! Because hopefully, as you embrace your role as a dad, one day, when your kids are older and start having their own kids, you then can become the cool dad and their best friend.
Earn some points: Are you married? If so, share iMOM’s 11 Ways to be the Meanest Mom Around with your wife.
Sound off: What word or words would you use to describe the type of dad you are?