Are You Encouraging Positive Character Qualities in Your Children?
Last Saturday it was a privilege to teach 16 to 24-year-olds about how they are smart. Their joy as I presented was not surprising. I think everyone wants to know that there are explanations for their preferences and their behaviors. Did you read Monday’s post about helping children develop a healthy character identity? The smarts are relevant.
I talked with these students about how the ways we’re smart influence our choices and the ways we behave. For instance:
- Logic-smart children may debate more than others and struggle with respecting those they believe make no sense.
- Body-smart children may touch everything in grandma’s apartment even though she has asked them repeatedly to not to do that.
- Self-smart children may develop pride in their own opinions and not be terribly teachable.
- Music-smart children may ignore everyone around them because they “have to” listen to their favorite music.
- Word-smart children may tease and gossip.
- Picture-smart children may be judgmental about people’s appearances.
- Nature-smart children may not to be on their best behavior when stuck inside for a long time.
- People-smart children can manipulate others quite easily.
I imagine those are enough examples to help you understand why we always teach that self-respect, self-control, and respect for others are character qualities to prioritize. It is these three that often motivate children to use their smarts only for good and not to do harm.
There were positive reactions when I shared illustrations along these lines and talked with these teenagers and young adults about how their misbehavior may be birthed in their smarts. They saw why some of the same misbehavior continues to be an issue for them.
How Can We As Parents Help?
Think about how you can encourage children you love to improve their behavior by adding positive character qualities to their repertoire rather than paralyzing their smarts. “Stop that!” can paralyze them from using the smart related to the negative behavior. They might stop enjoying music altogether. Maybe they won’t ever want to visit their grandma’s apartment again. They may isolate and not want to interact with people since they always seem to get into trouble when they do. Stopping negative behavior is, of course, appropriate. But, we don’t want children of any age to stop being smart.
“Start this!” is beneficial. Start being other-centered. Start being compassionate. Being careful. Start being humble. Start being kind. Be open. Start being ….
How would you love your children to finish this sentence so they’ll use their smart strengths in smart ways?