I’ve always bought into the idea of actions speaking louder than words and the importance of being good role models for children. But Adam Grant’s excellent piece in today’s NY Times Sunday Review, RAISING A MORAL CHILD, puts some science behind it. Two ideas really stuck with me –
“When our actions become a reflection of our character, we lean more heavily toward the moral and generous choices. Over time it can become part of us.” (So, being a good person may take a little practice, but gradually becomes ingrained…)
Then there's this positive bit of reframing: “Shame is the feeling that I am a bad person, whereas guilt is the feeling that I have done a bad thing. Shame is a negative judgment about the core self, which is devastating: Shame makes children feel small and worthless, and they respond either by lashing out at the target or escaping the situation altogether. In contrast, guilt is a negative judgment about an action, which can be repaired by good behavior.” How we talk to kids about their actions can be so potent, the difference between “I am disappointed that you lied about that” vs. “I am so disappointed that you are a liar.” And not just kids – think about how adults talk to each other.