What are you acting like?
What do you believe? What’s important to you? Each of our actions suggests something about our values and motivation, and it’s worth the time and effort to think about what our behavior says about us.
Many of our behaviors can be interpreted in light of “I’m acting as if” statements. For example, being impatient with your children translates into “I’m acting as if my kids are a nuisance to me.” Muttering in frustration when the driver ahead of you is going slow can be viewed as “I’m acting as if my needs are more important than those of others on the road.” Not using vacation days and working insanely long hours equals “I’m acting as if rest and renewal are unimportant for me and my family.”
But there are also positive “I’m acting as if” messages. Listening intently to your daughter and talking with her conveys the idea “I’m acting as if paying attention to and guiding my kids is important to me.” Setting a bedtime for your younger children is similar to saying “I’m acting as if boundaries and expectations are an important part of growing up.” Asset #11: setting and establishing Family Boundaries is an imperative part of role as parents. Use these times to model and explain the reasoning behind the boundaries and expectations you have for behavior within and outside of your home.
The phrase, “I am (or you are) acting as if” holds a mirror up to our character that parents and children can benefit from this coming school year. It can help start the conversation about what can be observed and what may need some attention.
For instance, after taking stock of a child’s behavior, a parent could say “You are acting as if…”
- No one will share their toys with you
- A smartphone is your only ticket to social survival
- You can’t get by without video games
- You are expecting to fail
- No one can be trusted
- Winning gives you value
- Others get to define who you are
There are additional “You’re acting as if statements” that are more appropriate for older children and teens:
- Wearing certain clothes is critical to finding love
- You want a certain kind of attention from others
- Having a boyfriend or girlfriend is a need rather than a want
- You are expecting yourself or others to be perfect
- Success is the most important thing in life
- Someone else controls all your time
Parents can follow up on these statements with the questions “Is that true? If so, why?” Through this dialogue you can pursue understanding and deeper relationship and provide guidance.
We are all “acting as if,” often with a number of not-so-obvious reasons and motives. What are we looking for? What are we finding? What do we actually want, and what is it costing us? I believe this is a practical exercise you can use to help you and your child increase self-awareness so you can both experience growth this coming school year.
RezilientKidz is a 501c3 educational organization created to champion the needs of children and equip parents to build thriving, healthy families. For information on our parenting curriculum, Raising Highly Capable Kids, contact us at 855-REZ-KIDZ or 8675 Explorer Drive, Col Springs, CO 80920.
Raising Highly Capable Kids Curriculum: https://www.rezilientkidz.com/raising-highly-capable-kids/
Fight for Your Marriage Curriculum: https://www.rezilientkidz.com/fight-for-your-marriage/