Recently, my freshman son decided he wanted to run track on the high school team. I was proud of his decision to participate, but I was worried about how he would stack up against the other athletes. When he got home from practice the first day, I asked how it went. Then I made the mistake of asking who else is on the team, how fast they are, if he could keep up with them. The more I asked questions, the more he tried to avoid the conversation. Once he left the room, my wife was quick to let me know why my line of questioning didn’t encourage the right mentality.
She pointed out that the questions I asked were about how he compared to the other athletes. I was teaching him that his value is based on how he compares to others. Instead, I should have emphasized that he should do his best and work to improve. I should have suggested that he compare himself to his potential and encouraged him to work to get better every day to maximize his ability. Here are 3 more lessons we should avoid teaching our kids.
1. You need to be the best.When we focus on being the best and winning at all costs, we shift the focus from where it needs to be.
Our society places an emphasis on winning, and we always want our kids to be successful. We want them to be the all-star on the team, the A+ student in the class, the most talented musician in the group. When we focus on being the best and winning at all costs, we shift the focus from where it needs to be. Instead, we should teach our kids to find enjoyment in the activity itself.
Do this instead: Ask your son or daughter what he or she enjoys about the activity.
2. It’s all right to be content with “good enough.”
We live in a fast-paced society. When we start to run out of time on a project, how often do we say “good enough” and move on to the next project? Whether we are completing a project for work, cleaning the house, or helping our kids with their homework, every time they see us satisfied with “good enough,” we reinforce the idea that they don’t always need to give their best effort.
Do this instead: Point out to your child that you are taking extra time to make sure you finish the job well.
3. It’s acceptable to put the blame on others.
It’s only natural to blame others. No one likes to be wrong. No one wants to make a mistake—especially in front of our kids. When they are young, they see us as invincible and we don’t want to tarnish that. As they get older, they start to see that we’re flawed and we don’t want to give them any evidence that it’s true. So when something goes wrong in front of them, we easily can be tempted to blame it on someone or something else. Unfortunately, when we do this, we are modeling a lack of accountability.
Sound off: When was a time that you realized you were teaching your son or daughter the wrong lesson?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “If you had kids, what is one thing you would want to teach them?”