Any adult or parent reading this article can say that the world our children live in today is far different from the world we grew up in. In fact, with the technology of our smartphones, we now have access and exposure to just about everything you can imagine.
With all the apps, gaming devices and platforms our kids have access to and communicate through, they are more vulnerable to negative, destructive views and behaviors than ever before. As a parent, how can you help your kids stand up to the pressures to conform to the endless distractions, temptations and behaviors that have become the new normal for our kids?
The answer is teaching them what I call Prepared Reaction Response (PRR). When it comes to how and when our children respond to the pressures they will face, your children’s response cannot be considered, reasoned or debated in the “heat of the moment” with their friends or peer group. Their choices must be PRE-considered, carefully thought-out, discussed, and decided in advance to avoid the consequences and the potential long-term effects of their choices.
This is why having strong family values and open communication is vital to setting our kids up for success and giving them the confidence, security and courage they need to make wise choices. As a family coach, I want to pass along four character qualities that have proven to be the successful keys to helping kids be fully prepared to stand up to the pressures they will face in today’s world, no matter their age or stage.
Webster’s dictionary defines integrity as “a firm adherence to a code of moral values.” These are character qualities rooted in moral principles that help our kids know what is right or wrong and why certain activities and behaviors are right or wrong. C.S. Lewis defined integrity as “doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”
This value is vital when it comes to teaching self-control. We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can choose our response. Helping our kids to have the discipline to say “no” when it’s easier and more convenient to say “yes” will save them years of regret and consequences. In our world of instant gratification, teaching our kids to control their emotions and impulses to gain attention, acceptance or popularity will help them stay in control when the pressure to conform is everywhere.
Wrong doesn’t become right just because the majority says it is right. Teaching our children the courage to stand alone even in the face of intense pressure from friends or compromising situations will help them rise above and stand out for doing the right thing. Helping them understand that even if they face the consequences, embarrassment or rejection for not conforming to the negative views or behaviors of those around them, it will serve as a testament to their true character and integrity for doing what was right.
Helping our children learn to take the high road is not a sign of weakness but strength. We are surrounded by so many in our culture today who are selfish, prideful, arrogant and crave attention so much that they will do almost anything to get what they want or receive the attention they desire. Imagine what our world would look like if more people lived with a spirit of humility and self-control. I heard someone once say, “The key to success in life is to learn the way up is down.” Teaching our kids to do the right thing will always result in a life lived with no regrets.
As a parent, let me encourage you to carve out teachable moments to help your kids stand firm against the pressures they face by discussing their Prepared Reaction Responses (PRR). You can do this over dinner, while driving in the car, after a news segment that exposes a tragedy, or even with controversial views and behaviors that are taking place in our culture today. Also, take the time to get to know your child’s friends along with their parents. Stay in communication with your child’s teachers so you can get their perspective and who might be serving as a negative influence. It’s essential to stay in touch and stay connected to your children and their circle of friends. Why is this so important? Because friendships are like elevators. They are either taking us up or taking us down.
One final thought to pass along to your kids:
Where you go determines who you meet.
Who you meet determines how you think.
How you think determines what you do.
What you do determines who you become.