In Are You Accidentally Raising a Victim, I shared why you need to raise kids who don’t see themselves as victims. 10 Signs Your Child Has a Victim Mindset explained how to tell if your kids are beginning to view themselves as victims. Whether your kids already view themselves as victims or you just want to make sure they never see themselves in that light, it’s important to know how to give your kids the tools to survive and even thrive in the face of adversity.
There are a lot of things you can do to help your children become survivors instead of victims. In fact, the Bible is full of stories of people like King David who experienced a lot of really negative things. Have your kids read how David shared his feelings about his adversities in Psalms. Then have them read the stories of how God helped David survive and even thrive in spite of the adversity in his life. If you regularly share these stories with your kids, they will begin to see the pattern of how God still works in the lives of His people.
There are other things you can do to give your kids the tools to avoid developing a victim mindset. In the case of serious trauma, your child may also need help from a mental health professional to process the event in healthy ways. For those with less traumatic negative experiences, here are a few more of my favorite tips for helping kids survive and even thrive.
- Meet your children’s basic needs – especially for love and attention. Oddly enough, a child’s relationship – or lack thereof – with parents was the strongest influence on whether or not he/she perceived himself/herself as a victim. Kids need more active love and engaged attention than our society is willing to admit. If you are doing the bare minimum, you risk leaving your child vulnerable to developing a victim mindset.
- Teach your children God is all-powerful and in control. Your kids need to understand and believe God is in control – especially when bad things happen. Bad things are a result of living in a fallen world. God can sometimes cause these situations to improve or at the very least, give your kids the strength to survive and even thrive through the rough spots in life.
- Help your kids memorize key Bible verses. Your kids may not always be able to look up Bible verses when they need them. Memorized verses will pop into their head when they need them, providing comfort and guidance.
- Teach your kids how to analyze the situation rationally. To survive and even thrive through a problem, your kids need to know how to analyze it. What are the various elements that caused the problem? Which things do they have the power to change? Which things really are beyond their control? Are there creative ways to solve the problem they haven’t thought of yet? The answers will give them clues about how to navigate the issue successfully.
- Help your kids move beyond negative emotions to gratitude and forgiveness. Those with a victim mentality never move beyond their hurt, pain and anger. Teach your kids how to process those negative emotions and move on emotionally. Help them remember to think of the blessings God has given them and the promises He has made to His people. Teach them to forgive those who harm them as God forgives us.
- Encourage your kids to assign the best possible motives to people. Help your kids learn to process what happened through the eyes of the other person. Are they in a lot of pain from a difficult life? Were they speaking in general and your child took it personally? Did your child even hear what was said accurately? You don’t want to minimize your child’s pain too quickly, or they will feel unheard by you. Over time though, you should be able to help your child move from pain to empathy and forgiveness.
- Teach your kids to articulate, not retaliate. Help your kids learn how to set healthy boundaries and enforce them in kind and loving ways. Teach them to communicate their feelings without destroying another in the process. Encourage them to build bridges instead of burning them.
- Help your kids learn how to “love their enemies” on a regular basis. Encourage your kids to proactively treat their “enemies” with love and kindness. Over time, this can often result in a softening from the “enemy”. Even if the person continues to treat them badly, your children are accurately reflecting God to those around them in how they continue to treat the person with love.
Helping your children move through painful experiences without developing a victim mindset, frees them to reach their godly potential. They won’t become stuck in the past, but can move forward to the plans God has for their life. It is definitely worth your time and effort to help them get there.