We all like to think our children won’t bully anyone or even be ugly to others. Yet, it’s often the parents of the bully who are the most surprised when they learn of their child’s behavior.
Studies out of the University of Copenhagen and the University of Koblenz Landau studied how beliefs and attitudes were attached to negative behaviors. They found that when people had certain beliefs or attitudes, they regularly engaged in behavior that was harmful to others – including violence, lying, stealing and discrimination.
Not surprisingly, all of the attitudes and beliefs that led to these ungodly behaviors are also ungodly. Of course, the study was secular and didn’t make the connection, but it is definitely there.
So what attitudes and beliefs are red flags that your child may be developing into a person who hurts others on a regular basis – often with little, if any, remorse? (Note: These have been adapted for a Christian worldview.)
- Puts himself or herself before others. These are the young people who are more concerned with getting what they want in life than about any collateral damage their “win” may create in the lives of others.
- Manipulative. These are the sneaky kids who will say and do what they have to do to get adults and peers to agree to what they want.
- Callous. These are the young people who seem to have “I don’t care” as their life motto. They may show little remorse if they hurt someone else in some way.
- Believes the end justifies the means. These are the young people who believe it is okay to do whatever is necessary to get what they want. Sometimes, this can be masked as a type of “Robin Hood” attitude. Sins like lying, cheating and stealing are considered acceptable and even laudable if engaging in them got the young person the result they desired (no matter how seemingly noble the result is).
- Sins without feeling guilt. These are the young people who aren’t concerned what you or God may think of a sinful choice they have made. They can tell lies or commit other sins without feeling the least little bit of guilt.
- Needs to constantly be the center of attention. We aren’t talking about the normal childhood “Look at me!” syndrome. These are the young people who will “make everything about them”. If the attention moves to someone else for even a moment, they will say or do something to get the attention back on themselves.
- Believes they deserve better treatment than others. These are those entitled young people. They deserve the best of everything – whether or not they or their parents can afford it. They expect to be first in line, get the biggest piece of cake and receive every gift their heart desires. This is childhood selfishness on steroids.
- Lacks empathy. These young people don’t just struggle, but find it impossible to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. They show no emotion when they hear about someone else in pain – even pain caused by them. All of us struggle with empathy from time to time, but this is a consistent display of a lack of empathy for others.
- Lack of self-control. This can range from emotions to behavior. Self-control is fundamental for avoiding sin. All of us have our moments, but these young people display a consistent lack of self-control.
- Impulsive behavior. Impulsivity is to be somewhat expected in very young children. They have yet to learn fully the importance of thinking before speaking or acting. These young people, however, almost always “shoot first and ask questions later”. They may be labeled as having anger issues, but at its core, it is impulsive behavior.
- Obsessed with money and/or power. Wanting to be successful in life isn’t a bad goal necessarily. If all the young person talks, dreams and thinks about is money and/or power though, there is a serious problem.
- Spiteful. This is the young person who will do things just to hurt others. The motive may be disguised as revenge. These young people hurt others on purpose to get some sort of reaction or to inflict pain.
The really scary thing about this study is they found each of these negative traits is rarely isolated. If a person had one of these traits, they often had several. Even more disturbing is they found those who had multiple traits on this list not only actively hurt others, but felt justified in doing so.
Take an honest look at your kids. All of these behaviors can develop in any child – especially those who have very little adult guidance. The good news is that if you are intentional in parenting your child’s heart, these traits may never fully develop and the beginnings of them can be eradicated. It’s worth your time and effort to help your kids erase all signs of these beliefs and attitudes from their hearts.
Source: Mental Floss