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Teach Kids to Think, Discuss, and Build Character with 3 Easy Sentences

By Jean Tracy. MSS

Do you ache to know if you're parenting well? Have your kids gone underground with their thoughts and feelings? Do you feel cut-off?

The most important job you'll ever have is parenting. To parent well, you need to know what your kids are thinking. If their thinking is crooked, their characters will be too. Let's see how to straighten crooked thinking by viewing its power to create character.

Thinking Creates Character:

1. Thinking sways feelings.

2. Feelings sway behavior.

3. Thinking, feelings, and behavior create character

My toastmaster friend, Mike, presented a contest talk entitled "The Invisible Box." With his arms extended, he drew an imaginary box about 7 high and 3 wide. Next he stepped inside and shut its invisible door. Mike said that too many people live inside their invisible boxes. How does this apply to your kids?

1. The invisible box is the place where they nurse their hurts and grudges.

2. The invisible box is the place where their negative attitudes fester.

3. The invisible box is the place where they make multiple excuses and hide.

Could this already be happening in your child's mind? Certainly! What can you do? Listen for words like:

Nobody likes me.

I can't do it.

It's too hard.

Suppose your child tried to make the select soccer team. Your child's best friends made the team but the coach didn't choose your child. Now your child shuts down, won't go out to play, and steps into the invisible box. What can you do?

Discuss the Problem with Your Child and:

1. Probe gently. Find out what your child is thinking and feeling.

2. Listen carefully to what your child is saying and isn't saying.

3. Appreciate your child's best thoughts. Avoid denying his/her feelings.

4. No criticism. Empathize instead.

What's next? Teach your child 3 easy sentences to tell him/herself in difficult times. You'll be more effective if you use these sentences out loud before, during, and after diffficult times in your own life. Make sure your child hears these sentences often:

3 Easy Sentences:

1.Things aren't terrible or awful.

2.This is just inconvenient.

3.Things don't have to go my way.

Think about it. Awfuls and terribles don't really exist. Things are the way they are. The trouble starts when we use awful and terrible to describe the difficult events in our lives. This is extreme thinking and it is negative.

Teach your child that difficulties are just inconvenient. Inconveniences are not terrible and awful.

Finally, things don't have to go their way. Teach your child to accept the reality that he/she is not the King or Queen of the universe. If they were they could make things go their way. They"d have the power. Accepting that things do not have to go their way frees them from hiding inside the invisible box. Being free helps them face the challenges in their lives with a positive attitude.

Take the time to discuss your child's thoughts and feelings. Teach your child to use the 3 easy sentences with their 3 simple and deep meanings. You'll be helping your child step outside the invisible box. You'll be parenting well. You'll be building character too.

About The Author

Jean Tracy, MSS, Edmonds, WA, USA

Subscribe to Jean Tracy's Free Parenting Newsletter, Tips and Tools for Character Builders at

Jean's newsletter is rated as one of the best parenting newsletters on the web!

Look for her new book, Character Building with the Family Meeting Diary at

Download Free parenting tips at


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