There’s a proverb that says “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” The way we think determines not only who we are but also how we behave. Our thoughts lead directly to our actions.
This means that parents have to help their children think correctly before they will begin to change their bad behavior patterns. Kids develop wrong ideas about life, and these wrong ideas lead to poor decisions, bad behavior, and harmful patterns and habits.
Here are five damaging thinking patterns that result in problems in family life:
1. It’s mom’s job to make dinner, clean up, do the laundry, and all the other chores in the house. A child who thinks this will not do the work assigned him. Why should he when it’s mom’s job to do it all? Sometimes we help our kids to this wrong conclusion by doing everything for them and not giving them age appropriate tasks to handle. Everyone who benefits from family life should contribute to it by doing chores.
2. It’s ok for me to get angry because that (whatever it is) isn’t fair. When a child’s sense of fairness is not challenged and trained, he naturally thinks that every circumstance that doesn’t go his way is unfair. That’s just not true. Everyone has challenges and disappointments. Help your child see that, even when he’s disappointed, there are boundaries for expressing anger.
3. I deserve all these things my parents give me. This child needs gratitude. When we give children more than their character can handle, that’s spoiling. Some kids can handle gifts without corrupting their thinking and others can’t. Spend time daily talking about what we’ve been given. For the child who doesn’t have gratitude, remove privileges until they develop a proper perspective.
4. I’m the center of the universe. We do this by catering to our child’s every preference. We avoid a restaurant we like because the child doesn’t like it. We turn the volume up more than we like because the child likes it loud. We leave the church we like because the child doesn’t like some aspect of it. Be careful that you don’t create a self-centered child.
5. What’s happening right now is all that matters. Children miss opportunities to prepare for the next phase of life because they see only the benefits of right now. A child taught to save for future desires begins to look at the future differently. Help your child catch a vision of life in the future by talking about what they’ll want and need in years to come, and the character they’ll need to possess when they get there.
Dr. Forrest E. Watson