Kids with negative core values have heightened emotional reactions. When this is the case, what appear to be minor events or things we say can result in strong reactions such as fits, tears, anger and withdrawal.
When coaching families across the country, I find negative core values play a significant role in virtually every family. While the term core value is used in several ways, I am referring to the deeply held beliefs we adopt about ourselves in our childhood. These beliefs can be:
- Positive: we believe more positive things about ourselves deep within than negative.
- Negative: we believe more negative things about ourselves deep within than positive.
Today I find very few kids who have positive core values and the impact that it takes on our kids should not be underestimated. I did not discover how deeply my negative core values impacted my perspective, reactions and decisions until my early forties and wish someone had helped me see them when I was in middle school or high school.
When negative core beliefs are out of balance with positive beliefs, they can alter how we perceive situations, things that are said to us as well as lead us to make wrong decisions. This occurs when situations strike one or more of our deeply held negative beliefs triggering a sense of inadequacy, fear, defensiveness or quiet panic within.
The following short list of common negative core values I hear from kids age 8 to 18 will help to explain this concept.
- There is something wrong with me
- Nothing I do is good enough
- I am a failure
- I am unlovable
- I am the problem in my family
- I am stupid
- I do not fit in
- I mess up all the time
Our kids can carry a list of negative beliefs even if they appear that they have friends, are doing well in school, seem normal for their age, and even appear to be happy. In spite of these surface indications I find many kids are silently and even somewhat unconsciously struggling within themselves. They seek to suppress these negative beliefs/feelings through social media, gaming, relationships, and even academics or sports. Far too many kids I interact with have only three or four positive beliefs versus eight to ten negative beliefs about themselves. This imbalance means that they will minimize, alter, or dismiss the positive things that happen or are said about them because they are inconsistent with what they truly believe about themselves.
Their internal pool of negativity grows until even small comments can trigger extreme feelings of failure, stupidity, awkwardness, loneliness and even more feelings. The feelings than result in fits, tears, anger, or shutting down. This is why kids who seem like they are well liked and have friends can reach a point of being suicidal without anyone realizing what is going on inside them. Our focus on behavior can lead to our kids’ behaving the way they believe they need to act to be appreciated, belong, and keep the peace. However, they may be figuratively bleeding to death within because of the beliefs they have adopted about themselves in childhood and have been reinforced along the way.
Looking beyond behavior and to the inside of our kids is vital in our society. Today genuine relationships are under assault by technology, time is scarce due to business, and broken families lead to uncertainty in our kids. Moreover social media can reinforce our kids’ sense of inadequacy and negativity.
Today, nothing is more important than a genuine relationship that leads to deep conversations with our kids!
Would you like to find out more on how to work through negative core values? You can visit our website ReviveFamily.com to watch our free webinar on Influential Parenting to find more ways to apply positive core values.