Most parents that I know want to raise socially aware and well-adjusted kids (whatever that means right?). Maybe I’ve just never come across them, but I’m yet to meet a parent that says, “when my child grows up, I hope that they’re terrible at interpersonal relationships” (I know you were hoping I’d use another word but I’m really trying not to). We want our kids to be leaders and influences in their sphere of being. If you’re that rare parent that wants your kid to be a @&$^$ you can stop reading now… However, if you want your kid to grow up to be a generally decent member of our society here are three traits you should seek to eliminate if they’re showing up.
Admittedly this is a personal pet peeve of mine. Selfishness and self-centeredness really irritate me… and most people really. You all know that one person that is just always out for themselves, pushes others out of the way (figuratively and literally) and generally displays a lack of sensitivity to the thoughts and feelings of others. If you don’t know that person, well, it might be you.
Don’t get me wrong, we can all have selfish moments and sometimes that can be a good thing. However, if that’s your modus operandi, then it’s more of an undesirable personality trait than a once in a while thing for self-preservation. So as your child grows to make sure that this doesn’t become one of their personality traits. So don’t ignore situations where you find your child being inconsiderate of others. Correct them and provide the rationale so they understand the thought process behind it.
Warning though… don’t teach them to be a doormat either. Remember I said being selfish sometimes was a good thing. Yeah, well standing up for one’s self in the face of injustice and other situations that could be less than favorable are important skills to have. What you want is your child to be considerate of others thoughts and feelings but able to recognize when someone is trying to take advantage of them and not allow it to happen.
This is a tough one because there are a lot of people that believe that there’s nothing wrong with telling a little white lie every once in a while. Especially if it’s in service of the greater good. While we could rage on for hours over the ethics of this position and ultimately get absolutely nowhere, I’ll resist the urge to present an argument to the contrary. Disclaimer, I have told a lie… okay, maybe quite a few.
That doesn’t mean that I still don’t believe that honesty is the best policy. I’m endeavoring to be honest at all times, particularly when it’s most difficult. And this is what I would recommend you encourage your child to do. Because what they practice becomes a habit and that habit becomes a personality trait. Believe it or not, trust is still a vital part of our society and being branded as a liar and someone that is untrustworthy is not something you want for your child (I hope…).
Last, but certainly not least, is disrespect. Admittedly, respect can mean different things to different people, but generally, it’s having some common decency. Merriam-Webster describes respect as “an act of giving particular attention” or giving “high or special regard.” When you give something or someone special regard you treat them in a certain way. This kind of ties into the first idea of being thoughtful instead of selfish. But respect is the action that follows thoughtfulness.
Weeding out the seeds of disrespect is important. Sure when they’re little it seems cute, but that mess gets old and quick. Disrespectful kids certainly aren’t cute to the rest of us. I’m going to plug my teacher friends for a second, cause I’ve heard some horror stories and really that’s a good place to start. Teach your kids to show respect for their teachers, sometimes that means you’ve got to model it. Even if the teacher is wrong, teach your child how to handle conflict respectfully. Again, we’re not raising doormats either.
This is not a comprehensive lesson on how to not raise and @&$^$, but it’s a good start. Ensuring that your child begins practicing thoughtfulness, truthfulness and respect early in life will produce an adult that you’ll be proud of. Somewhere along the way we lost the plot and thought that teaching our kids to be ruthless, cutthroat and self-centered would lead them to the pinnacle of success. Instead, we just end up with a bunch of lonely @&$^$.
Ultimately humans, despite our claims of independence, are all interdependent. We’ve got to do better at living together and much of that depends on how we are raising the generations to come. Remember though, raising a thoughtful, truthful, respectful child doesn’t mean you’re raising a doormat. In fact, I want you to do just the opposite, but that’s another topic for another day.