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Inspiring Our Youths to Greatness
Our “Youth Inspire Programs” started about 9 years ago when I was working in Brunswick, Ohio schools. I helped a teenage student deal with a school bully. The problem was solved so quickly that the teenager’s mother inspired me to help other children in the district. Since I was already involved in seminars, I finally started speaking to large and small groups of young people in classrooms, auditoriums, assemblies and school cafeterias.
Although I deal with several issues such as: goal setting, memory and concentration, stress management, avoiding drugs and alcohol and designing your future; I am convinced that the most important factor in inspiring greatness in our youth is to build their self-esteem. Therefore, self-esteem is a common thread that runs seamlessly through all of our programs.
Did you know that approximately 1/3 of violent crime victims are between the ages of 12-19. Approximately 2,800 teenage girls in America become pregnant every day, 1 in 3 high school students will not graduate, and over 3,000 young adults start smoking daily. Our children can easily fall victim to this behavior and become statistics due to a lack of self-love. Your child’s self-esteem is the key to avoiding peer pressure, drugs, alcohol and other dangerous, self-destructive activities. They use this rude behavior to distract themselves from facing problems at home or at school.
I am convinced that the most destructive type of mind is the mind that feels it has no worth or value. By raising the self-esteem of your youth, they become masters of their own destiny. Then they can easily eliminate self-doubt, overcome fears and anxieties, overcome a defeatist attitude and win. This is the true path to greatness.
By high self-esteem, I don’t mean an arrogant, self-centered, narcissistic way of thinking. Instead, healthy self-esteem is demonstrated by realizing one’s own worth. Understanding your own uniqueness and the contribution you can make to our world. Realizing that of the 80 billion people who have walked the earth, there has never been anyone like you and there never will be. A healthy form of self-esteem is knowing that you are perfect just the way you are. You are satisfied with yourself, your beliefs and values. You hold yourself in high regard, yet maintain a quiet humility and an aura of serenity. These are the common denominators that our children must acquire in order to rise to greatness.
High self-esteem is the key to better grades, improved social skills, higher self-confidence and better friends. (Remember: A great way to gauge your child’s self-esteem is to notice the friends they hang out with and the boyfriends or girlfriends they have.)
We must constantly remind our children that we can never rise above the image we have of ourselves. If the image we have of ourselves is negative, we will never reach our peak and be all that we could be. However, if the image you have of yourself is positive, we can rise up and know our greatness. We can discover who we really are, avoid psychosclerosis (hardening of the mind) and leave a glorious legacy. With high self-esteem, your future is limitless.
Here are some powerful exercises you can do at home with your kids to encourage their greatness. These are great strategies that I use with my kids and they seem to work well.
1. Have your child write on a piece of paper all their good sides, positive qualities and things they admire most about themselves. Spend as much time as possible on this. You will be surprised how many valuable qualities they possess that others can appreciate.
2. Teach your child to become a “Good Inventor”. Always catch yourself doing something good. You can easily increase your value by focusing on the positive feedback you give yourself. Constantly focus on your strengths and see any weaknesses as signals that remind you that there is still work to be done. Remember, you are not your weakness. You are a positive person with enough personal power to recognize a weakness and turn it into a strength. Teach your child to pat themselves on the back often, they deserve it much more than they think.
3. Work with your child to constantly question the ideas he has about himself. Teach them to challenge their critical inner voice. They are in charge so they have to take control. If ever a disempowering image pops into their mind, they must ask themselves, “Is this image accurate, or do I need to update my mental resume?” “Am I stuck with this image or can I change it?” The moment you start asking these questions, you gain control and empower yourself to change. If you hear your inner voice criticizing you, remember that you can always have the last word. Do your best to prove that inner critic wrong. Use his voice as a signal to move forward and achieve freedom. You disarm the inner critic every time you prove them wrong. As your child continues to respond in this way, the voice will gradually fade away, realizing that he has encountered his match.
I’ll end with a powerful story:
One day a farmer was walking in his field and came across a small glass jar in his tomato garden. Out of curiosity, he poked a small tomato through the neck of the jar, being careful not to break the vine. He placed his little experiment on the ground and then left it alone. At harvest time, a farmer was making his way down a row of large ripe tomatoes when he came across an old glass jar. This time it looked very different and strange. Upon inspection he soon discovered that the small tomato he had pushed inside had completely filled its glass prison. Since he had no more space, he simply stopped growing. The farmer broke the jar and held a ragged, misshapen, twisted tomato in his hand. It was less than half the size of the other tomatoes and exactly the shape of a jar.
Although our youth are not tomatoes, their self-esteem might be something like that jar. It plays a role in determining the size and type of person they become. We can increase our self-imposed limitations by breaking out of our glass prisons and increasing our self-esteem. The path to greatness lies outside the jar.
I wish you luck and success!
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