Parenting

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Parenting.

Parenting.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Parenting.

“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”

― Margaret Mead

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

― Albert Einstein

“One thing I had learned from watching chimpanzees with their infants is that having a child should be fun.”

― Jane Goodall

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Look at these related posts for more on this topic and other feelings.

Emotions and Feelings.

Inspiration

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Parenting.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Raising good children. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Raising good children.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Parenting.

“If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them, and half as much money.”  Abigail Van Buren

“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”  James Baldwin

“Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.”  Marcus Tullius Cicero

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

11 ways to be a great parent.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Parenting.

Parenting.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Want to be a great parent? Here are some parenting basics.

Many people worry about how good a parent they are and how to be a better one. Those who don’t worry probably need the help more than those who do worry. I recommend parenting education to many of my client’s, even ones that do not have children.

Learning how to be a good parent can help you with the skills to be a good grandparent, friend or any mentoring role. Knowing something about parenting and how it affects children can also help you if you have unresolved issues from childhood. This is a skill I think of as self-parenting.

Here are some tips gathered from all over on how to be a good parent. My apologies to those I learned these things from as I forget who taught or wrote about which point. If you have gathered some other parenting ideas feel free to comment or use the contact me form.

1. Catch your children doing something right.

There are plenty of people who will point out a person’s flaws. You do not make better children by attending to only those things they do wrong. Too much attention to the mistakes makes the child think they are not capable of doing anything right.

Help them learn that they are capable of doing things and doing them well. They do not need to be the world champion in that endeavor at age 5. It is sufficient that they find their talents to develop and enjoy the process of mastering that activity they love.

Help children develop a sense of mastery. They will feel better about themselves if they can do good things.

2. Make sure your children know you love them.

Many parents think their children know they are loved. Trouble is a lot of adults say their parents never told them they loved them. We show our love sometimes by the things we do, feeding and caring for family members. Trouble is other people may give you food or tangible things, that doesn’t mean they love you. Doing things or buying things just isn’t enough. People need to hear those loving words also.

Let your children know you love them not just for what they do or the successes they have but that you love them even when they are less than perfect. Love unconditionally, not just for the good times.

3. Parents need to be parents and let the child be a child.

You can have a good relationship with your children but you can’t neglect your duties as a parent. They need friends but that is not the parent’s job. There are times a parent needs to say no. You have to deliver the bad news. There will be times you need to set limits and boundaries. If the parent does not set limits the child begins to think they can’t be controlled. Eventually, they will come to believe that they can control themselves.

4. Take good care of yourself – set a good example.

Children learn more by watching what you do than by listening to what you say. Lots of people talk about what others should do. The lessons of what you do, come through loud and clear. If children see you never taking care of yourself they think that is what they need to do to be like you.

5. Maintain your adult relationships.

Parents need to have other adult friends. If you are in a relationship you need to spend time with that partner maintaining that relationship. Stay in touch with friends. Your children will develop friendships and eventually relationships. The kids can’t be the ones to meet all your social needs.

There will be life after children. If you are in a relationship maintain it. If you are a single parent develop other healthy adult relationships. You will need friends as your children venture out into the world and they will not be able to stay around to meet all your needs.

6. Get along with others. Especially the other relatives.

If you and the other relatives do not get along then you put your children in an impossible situation. You and your ex may not be together anymore but no matter how much that other person hurt you they will always be your children’s other parent. Don’t put your children in the position of having to take sides. If you keep your children from the other parent it is the kids that you are punishing not your ex.

Short of keeping your children out of real danger, it does not pay to inflict your pain on the children and keep them from having contact with a relative because they have angered you.

Having an extended family that the child can learn from and be supported by anchors them and give their life meaning. Don’t let your squabbles and rivalries with other relatives keep your child isolated from having a family.

7. Have good mental health – learn to manage anger and reduce stress.

Having a depressed parent leaves a lasting impression on a child. It is not noble to suffer in silence. If you have issues get help. Mentally healthy parents raise healthy children. Addicted parents raise children who struggle through life. Get healthy for their sake.

Do not alibi that “that is just the way I am.” You say you have always had a lot of anger? There was a time that you ate with your fingers and went in your diaper. If you could learn to eat with silverware and use the bathroom then you are capable of learning to control your anger.

Learn stress reduction techniques. Develop healthy ways of managing your anger.

8. Accept your child’s differences. They will not be small copies of you.

Parents want their children to be all they can be. What is not helpful is to try to overcome your failures by pushing your children to succeed where you did not. Love a sport? You can teach your child that love. They may excel. But don’t try to redeem yourself by pushing them to make the team where you failed or to win the championship you lost out on.

9. Make learning important.

In this world what we know can become obsolete. Any of you still using rotary dial phones? Not likely your children will get far with only that technology. Learn something new every day. Encourage your children to learn also.

Learn for the fun of it and then life becomes fun. The most successful people have interests and knowledge outside the field in which they work. Taking knowledge from one area and applying it to others is where much of the creativity in this world comes from.

10. Keep life in balance.

Life is not all about one thing. We need to work hard but we need to play. Children need to study and they need to laugh. If you do not have your life in balance then your children will have difficulty learning how to keep theirs on an even keel.

We all have many aspects to our lives. You need to eat well, exercise well and sleep well to live well. Do not neglect the social part of your life. Pay attention to your religious or spiritual needs also.

11. Spend time with them.

Time is more important than money when it comes to raising healthy children. Do things with them. Take them along. Plan activities together. The toy may break and be discarded, the candy is eaten and gone, but the experiences you create together will last a lifetime.

Those are some of my suggestions for being a great parent. What suggestions do you have?

You can find more at  Parenting and Children and Family Problems.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Secrets of the Parents Club.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Parenting.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

There are parent secrets you can only learn on the job.

Parenting is one of the most common tasks on earth. You would think there would be better preparation. Unlike most vocations and avocations parenting has no training required and little provided before you start the job.

There are a few parenting classes, I highly recommend them. I know however that most people do not get into a parenting class until after they are actively participating as parents and discover it is harder than it looks.

Seems like parenting is something like swimming, hard to learn in the classroom and most people are learning this skill by the old fashion method of sink or swim. Below are some secrets that the survivors of the real world parenting boot camps have shared with me.

There are no minor leagues for parents.

Taking a class in being a parent is nice. Being raised in a family with lots of children and helping care for your siblings or relatives is helpful. So is having had some experiences as a babysitter. None of that prepares you for the challenges of being a parent, especially if you have to do this while working out relationships and having to work a job to support yourself.

Becoming a parent is the equivalent of going from tossing the ball around in first grade to being drafted into a major league. Some time in school athletics and the minors would have helped. Being “drafted” as a parent gives you nine months tops to prepare. Most of your learning will be on the job and you will get hurt a lot. Still, if you try really hard there may be a few times you do something right.

You will make mistakes.

There are no perfect parents except in the movies. There you do not see what happens when the camera stops rolling. In real life, the role does not end until you are dead and gone. Along the way you just do the best you can.

Studies have suggested if you get more than half of things right your kid will think you did a good job. At least till they become a teenager and decide to try and improve on your efforts.

Do not try to be your kid’s friend.

Having a good relationship with your kids is nice. Remember though that parents need to be parents and kids need to be kids. This precludes you having the kind of relationship your child has with their friends. If you try too hard to their best friend you stop being their parent.

You have to wait for them to learn things.

Pushing too hard can make a child fall down. The old school way was to constantly push kids to do more and be more. Some of that worked. What you need to be careful of is trying to push your child to do things that developmentally they are not ready for. A three-year-old should not be carrying heavy objects and they are not ready for some mental tasks. Expecting a child to act older than they really are is a bad formula. Spend some time learning what a “typical” child should be able to do at what age. Then cut your child some slack. If they are on average doing things they should, they can take longer to learn some things than others. We all have different skills. If they seem to be falling behind get them professionally evaluated.

Let them be kids.

Drive a car too fast for too long and it will fall apart. I see a lot of clients who were pushed beyond their limits to be perfect as children and then once out of the house they fell apart.

That “playing around” is not a bad thing. Play is a sort of rehearsal for life. Well-adjusted children learn to play so they can enjoy what they do later in life. In your haste to prepare your child for adult life do not take away the joy of living.

Encouraging is not nagging.

Encouragement is pointing out the successes not yelling at them to do more and do better. Saying you believe in them need not convey the message that you will only love them if they win big.

Be slow to point out their mistakes.

If all you ever get is criticism you may think you are incapable and give up. There is such a thing as “learned helplessness” where after a while when nothing you do is adequate, you stop trying. Do not teach your child that no matter how hard they try it will never be possible for them to measure up.

Be fast to recognize your mistakes.

As a parent, you will make mistakes. Accept that. Learn from that. Doing the thing that is not working over and over will not change the child. It will wear you and them out. Learn from your child and from others. Practice your parenting skills and you will get better. The truth is that the youngest children will have very different parents than their older siblings.

They will change.

Children change whether you want them to or not. Just about the time you figure them out, they will have changed. But then often the child thinks this same thing about the parent. The person you were ten years ago is not who you are now or who you will be ten years from now. Neither is your child.

Your answers will not work for them.

You had to find your way in life, hopefully, you are there now. If not keep working on you. Your child will need to do the same. You may be good at music and they have no interest what so ever. Or they may have your interest but like a form of music, you can’t stand. That is the way it works.

Occasionally we see a person that is in the family business or who is a third or fourth generation professional in the same field. That is rare. What is more common is parents who push their child into their footsteps and the path does not fit that child. Let them explore and find their own way.

Once they start to think they will come up with new stuff.

A common parent mistake is to try to tell your children to think for themselves and then be horrified at the things they think. Your children are living in a different world than you did. They will grow up with technology you will struggle to keep up with.

This attraction to and willingness to accept new ideas is not limited to technology. Accept that the next generation will experiment with new ideas. Some will work and some will not. Old is good but so is new. There needs to be a balance. Rejecting your hobby or your ideas does not have to equal a rejection of you. Do not think that because your child thinks about new things that invalidates you.

The stuff will not make them love you.

A whole lot of adults fell into the trap of thinking that working hard to give their kids the things they never had as children will make their child happier and healthier. That does not work.

Ten, twenty, thirty years from now most kids will not remember the exact thing you bought them. They will remember the time you spent or did not spend with them. Remember to give love and time as much or more than you give things.

Popular does not last, hard work does.

There is a time in school when being popular and with the in-crowd matters. The life lesson we mostly learn is that who is in and why can change in an instant.

That popular person in the senior class in high school maybe not so popular three months later when you start college. The in musical group or politician may be out tomorrow. Popularity is a lot about others. Those who stay at the top over the long haul work really hard at what they do. They have talent but talent is hugely about how many hours you practice what you do. Talents grow with use.

Feelings will change.

Feelings can and should change. This is a real life. Some days are better than others. Do not think that the way you feel now will be the way you will feel some other time. We used to think of childhood as the happy time, free of responsibilities, and then as an adult, you had to struggle. Nowadays that is upside down. Many kids struggle with anxiety, depression or loneliness. Then when we get to be older life is happier. Not because you have everything, may elderly have much less than before, but you just start to appreciate what you have and don’t care so much what others think.

There will be life after children.

From the first day you have a child in your life, or even the day you know you will have one, your life changes. You think a lot about your child all that time. Then one day that child leaves you and you have to think about what will happen next. Some couples go through a crisis then. They spent more than half their life doing things for their children and now they can’t figure out what to do together or with the rest of their life. As important as your children are you need to still have a life that you will want when the kids are gone.

Some of you will try to substitute being grandparents for being parents. Being active in your grandchildren’s life is good, but remember you can’t take over the role of being your grandchild’s parent. You need to let your children parent their children and then the whole cycle starts over.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

18 Ways you are a really bad parent.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Child crying

Ways to be a bad parent.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

18 ways to be a really bad parent.

Here are 18 really bad ways to treat children. Do them enough and you can destroy a child’s life. Some parents do these things out of ignorance, others out of meanness. (Want to be a good parent then avoid these traps.)

How many of these child-warping parenting techniques do you use?

1. Never tell your kids you love them.

Parents are for discipline not love. They should know you love them, you feed them sometimes right?

You can be strict or you can be lenient as long as the kids know you love them. Strict without love is abusive. Lenient without love can turn into neglect.

2. Point out everything wrong with your child.

Point out every mistake they make. Keep at them until they get it right or give up. Over the years I have seen a whole lot of people who came from non-affirming homes. No matter how hard they tried they could never please their caregiver. Eventually most stopped trying. They also developed a concept of themselves that they were incapable of doing anything well. Some of these people had extraordinary talent; just no one ever told them so.

Pick on them every chance you get. Point out the flaws in their face and how ugly they are. Prepare them to deal; with the “real world.”

The result of this sort of bullying is people who develop a victim mentality. They think they deserved to be bullied and they become permanent victims or they get angry and they strike out at anyone and everyone.

Constantly running a child down is a form of child abuse, not good parenting.

3. Belittle children in public whenever possible.

Make sure you publicly belittle your child and you will teach them to avoid others. This can result in a lot of social phobias, people afraid to be in public because they know they will be put down by others.

Break their spirit while they are young and they will never have to attempt anything that might show you up.

4. Do all the things you told them not to.

Remind your children to “do as I say not as I do.” This sets them up to be hypocrites and liars. Do not be surprised when they do sneaky things behind your back. You taught them to say one thing and do another.

5. Never teach them anything, make them find out for themselves.

Remind them you shouldn’t have to explain things to them. Call them stupid if they ask questions. Keep them ignorant and they will be slow to catch onto how lame their caregiver was.

6. Remind them you expect them to be a failure.

Tell them often enough and they will live down to your expectations. Most kids want to be just like their parents.

7. Do not ever talk about the future with them, they have no future.

The best way to repeat the cycle of dropping out of school, early parenthood and a life on welfare, with no job and no hope, is to set this example yourselves. Let them know that you expect them to be an even bigger failure than you were.

Make sure you never share any of life’s lessons you have learned with them.

8. Remind them constantly you are the king in this castle and they are peasants.

Set them up to be the victims in a controlling relationship the rest of their life. Undermine their self-esteem and intuitive.

9. Tell them how they should be feeling.

Make sure you invalidate everything they feel. If they tell you a feeling tell them no they are not feeling that, they are feeling something else. Remind them that their only purpose in life is to feel the way you tell them to feel.

The expressions “You should not feel that way” and “you should be feeling the same way I do.” Will help undermine their ability to feel what they are feeling.

10. Never let them think for themselves.

Make sure your children do not learn to think for themselves. This makes them easier to control. You will need to control them for a while though eventually they will become controlled by drug dealers, pimps or abusive partners.

Congratulate yourself you have created an easy to control adult with the emotions of a child.

11. Tell them everything, never ask.

Convince them that their opinions do not matter. Make them doubt themselves and they will never attempt anything worth doing.

12. Never explain anything; it is over their heads anyway.

Create in your children the love of ignorance. This will protect them from schools, learning and the risk of ever accomplishing anything in life.

13. Family communication means you tell them.

Do not let them ask to have their needs met. Keep all family communication a one-way street. You didn’t talk to their other parent why would you want to talk to them?

14. Toughen them up for the real world.

Make sure you instill a negative dog-eat-dog attitude in your children. You would not want them turning soft on you. People who do for others are soft. You are hardening your children up so they can be takers.

15. Teach them what a bully really looks like.

If you beat the stuffing out of them they will know how to take the beating that others will give them. Make sure that they know the only thing they deserve in life is a good beating.

16. Never tell them the truth about anything, keep them guessing.

You don’t owe children the truth. They wouldn’t recognize it if you told them anyway. Keep them, believing all the stories you tell them for as long as you can.

17. Give them nicknames – stupid, lazy, ugly, fats.

If you call all your kids by pet names you can turn them into animals. It will be fun to watch them quarrel and hurt each other.

18. Forget being consistent, keep them guessing.

Good parents are consistent and loving, two things you would never want to be.

If you enjoy doing all these things to your children you will love watching them do the same things to your grandchildren, should you get to keep them in your life that long.

If these recommendations appall you then make sure you do the opposite and nurture those children.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Perfectionism – good thing or bad thing

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Hitting a target

Goal.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Is your perfectionism out of control?

Perfectionism, that constant striving to do everything just right, has been connected with high accomplishment. Parents often believe the way to get the most out of their children is to push them for ever-increasing goals. Parents may feel their role is to point out their child’s failings to inspire them to do better.

People who aim for perfection set higher goals and may achieve grander things than those who have lower expectations. Does perfectionism really inspire more effort and accomplishment? Or does perfectionism have a dark side?

Perfectionism’s dark side.

Perfectionism has been linked to high worry, fear of failure, eating disorders, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and an increased risk of suicide. Perfectionists can suffer unmercifully and they can make those around them miserable also.

Perfectionism, Learned or Genetic?

In this conversation about perfectionism, I am talking about the learned variety. Anything which is learned can be unlearned. There are those whose perfectionist tendencies are a part of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. These disorders appear to have a physical or genetic basis in addition to any learned component. If you have OCD or OCPD medication and therapy may be helpful in managing your disorder so can other recovery methods.

Perfectionism has mixed results.

Why does this striving for perfection sometimes result in champions and other times in learned hopelessness and failure? The key lies in how the perfectionist was raised and in how they are raising themselves. What were the messages the perfectionist received in childhood from whatever source and how have they gone on to adopt those “need to be perfect” themes?

One way in which setting high standards goes wrong and results in unhealthy perfectionism is when caregivers set high standards but are at the same time disapproving of the child. If the parent’s approval of the child is contingent on success, the only way a child can get that parents love is to always be perfect and win at everything.

After receiving this message for a while the perfectionist internalizes the message “I am what I accomplish, if I don’t do everything perfectly I am no good.” Not only do they believe this message but they repeatedly retell themselves this story.

No matter how hard this child tries it is never enough, a little league championship should have been a World Series win and gold medal should have been the most Gold Medals ever. The target keeps changing and the child internalizes this belief that they will never be good enough and that their self-worth is dependent on never making a mistake.

Homes that produce unhealthy perfectionists are high in control, the parent is in charge of most everything, but they are low in warmth and affection. To win is to be loved. To lose is to face rejection. Perfectionists go on to love or reject themselves based on their successes and failures.

Parental acceptance in children and presumably self-acceptance in adulthood appear to be the best antidotes to perfectionism, self-doubt and excessive worry about mistakes.

If you didn’t get acceptance in childhood or didn’t get as much as you feel you need, begin today to accept yourself. Whatever you do is good enough. This is tough medicine for the perfectionist to swallow. Something about that constant struggle to be perfect reduces anxiety and seems protective at the time until the perfectionist fails at something.

If how you feel about yourself or how others feel about you is dependent not on effort but upon results you are in for a rough ride. Smooth out the road ahead by cutting yourself some slack.

Self-esteem for perfectionists fluctuates widely. When they achieve their goals they feel good about themselves and when they fall short they are overly negative and pessimistic. You should not base your self-esteem on what you win or lose. You are not a better person for being a perfectionist and may, in fact, be a pain to be around.

Parents who over control children and do not allow their child to develop a sense of self-control do not prevent the child from making mistakes. These parents prevent their child from learning how to make choices.

If that happened to you, stop making the same mistake with yourself and start accepting that most things in life do not need to be perfect. The time used to make one thing perfect is time taken away from other things you should do, like being present with your children and not passing the perfectionist disorder on to them.

If you are plagued by perfectionism and it has made you or those around you miserable are you ready to seek help for your perfectionism?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Making friends by calling them names.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Friendship

Friendship
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Does criticizing people get them to like you?

There seems to be a widely held belief that the way to get people to like and respect you is to criticize them and tell them what they are doing wrong.

Intuitively most people understand that if upon meeting someone for the first time, you began to upbraid them, called them names and told them how worthless they are, this would not be likely to lead to having a large number of friends. We know this but we often do it anyway.

You would expect that each of us would be striving to treat ourselves well and yet we frequently call ourselves names that we would never, ever, dare call a friend.

Ever call yourself “stupid’ or “dumb?” Think for a moment about saying that to a friend. Not once, when they made an unusually poor choice, but consistently day after day. We wouldn’t do that to a friend, but most of us, most of the time, repeatedly call ourselves names.

The danger to calling yourself names is that you will start believing what you tell yourself.

Pictures of cute little puppies and little children inspire us to want to help. They can inspire us to kindness. It is easy to be kind to others. Most of us are afraid to be kind to ourselves.

Why is compassion reserved for other, unrelated people?

Somewhere we got the idea that it was acceptable to be kind to others but if we were to be nice or kind to ourselves then we would spoil ourselves and thereafter be worthless. So year after year we continue to beat ourselves up for one thing after another.

People, who truly spoil themselves, in a bad way, are not those who are kind and compassionate to themselves. The worst sort of spoilage occurs when we tell ourselves we are no good, worthless or useless and then use that self-description as an excuse for behaving badly.

If you tell yourself you are a slob and then stop trying to clean up your living space because after all you are a slob and no one should expect a slob to clean. If you say you are stupid and then use that belief as an excuse to never attempt anything, expecting your family or society to take care of you. You are using your self-criticism to excuse poor behavior.

Some people tell themselves they are addicts, and what do you expect from an addict? Why of course I relapsed and used drugs again, I am an addict. But if you begin to tell yourself that I USED to be an addict, look at the possibilities that opens up.

One form of therapy is called “narrative therapy.” The way I understand this is that we tell ourselves and others stories, not untrue stories, just stories, and then as we tell them more and more we begin to believe our own fiction. So if you tell yourself you are dumb or worthless you become less and less able to accomplish anything.

People who say “I am an angry person,” stay angry and convince themselves they can’t change. If we can get them to start saying I USED to be an angry person, but I am changing, then amazingly they change.

Do you believe that the only way to get anybody to do things is to beat them? We find that this is a poor way to motivate either ourselves or others. Yet many people continue to beat themselves up, verbally, day after day.

One thing we tell parents as part of basic parenting class is to catch their children doing something right. Small amounts of praise, judiciously used are great motivators. If the only way your children get your attention is to misbehave, they will misbehave for attention.

The parent who does nothing but criticizes their child finds that the child may give up. Consider the child who wants badly to please their parent; they study very hard for a big test. When the results come out the child has achieved a score of 99 out of 100 possible points.

What does this parent say? Why did you miss that one? You knew that! The result is that the child stops trying, convinced that no matter how hard they tried they will never be good enough.

Years later we find that person and many others still trying to motivate themselves by telling themselves that how they are is not good enough.

The risk here is that rather than motivate yourself to try harder, you will convince yourself that you are a failure and stop trying.

Ultimately you may become the person you say you are.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.