Teach Your Children Not to Take Things Personally

When faced with criticism or insults, children may feel offended and react aggressively. Teaching them not to take things personally will help their personal and social happiness.
Teach Your Children Not to Take Things Personally

Last update: 14 November, 2020

Part of parents’ work is to give their children tools to cope with the different situations they’ll encounter throughout their lives. Even though they won’t always be able to control what happens to them, they’ll always be able to decide how to react, and therein lies their strength. That’s why it’s really important to teach children not to take things personally.

This is a task that even we adults find difficult. We’re offended by other people’s words or actions, and react without thinking. So, if we want to avoid passing on this type of behavior to our children, we must start to become aware of its importance.

Miguel Ruiz, in his book The Four Agreements, encourages the reader not to take things personally, and says that this change in attitude will be beneficial for their personal and social lives. In the same way, this tool can be very useful to our children and adolescents for several different reasons.

Why teach your children not to take things personally?

Teach Your Children Not to Take Things Personally

It isn’t personal

First of all, children must be taught not to take things personally because, when it comes down to it, it isn’t really personal. A person’s comments and actions reflect on them, and not the person they’re directed to.

No one can give what they don’t have, and that means that everything the other person does or says is only a reflection of their own inner self. He who feels loved loves; he who feels happy contributes to the happiness of others. And, in the same way, the one who is hurt hurts, and the one who feels unsafe frightens others.

If a friend betrays your child, the child must understand that this only has to do with the friend, and their values, and doesn’t have anything to do with them. They shouldn’t question what they did to deserve it, or why they weren’t good enough, or how they could have avoided it. It’s not personal, there’s nothing wrong with them. Other people’s actions talk about themselves.

They regain their power

Self-control is one of the skills that children will have to acquire as they grow. At first, overcoming their impulses and managing intense emotional states will be very difficult for them. However, teaching them to act instead of react is a really valuable learning experience.

When someone makes a provocative or unpleasant comment, even we adults find it hard not to jump in and defend ourselves.

It’s even more common for children and young people to lack the capacity to reflect on the situation. This can lead them into conflicts and arguments with siblings or peers. Because of this, it’s important to help them understand that, when they react, then they’re giving the other person the power to decide their actions.

Perhaps your child is usually kind, understanding and polite, but then, when provoked, they end up resorting to the same behavior as the other person. They behave in a way that they would never have done if they hadn’t been provoked. They carry out actions that they don’t agree with, but they weren’t able to avoid it when faced with the other person’s words.

If children learn not to take things personally, then they’ll be able to keep calm and decide how they should respond, instead of simply reacting automatically and disproportionately.

Teach Your Children Not to Take Things Personally

Not taking things personally protects their identity

Especially with the onset of puberty, young people begin to place a high value on the opinions and comments of their peers. This will make them vulnerable if their self-esteem isn’t strong enough.

It’s important for them to understand that if someone says to them: “You’re so skinny” or “you’re so boringthen they’re speaking from their own point of view and aren’t necessarily right. If someone treats you badly then it’s because of the “bad” inside them, and not because you deserve it in any way.

We can’t control other people’s actions, but we can choose what to do about them. If someone tries to give someone else a gift and they refuse, then the gift still belongs to the person who bought it.

The same goes for criticism or insults. If you don’t accept them, and if you understand that it has to do with the other person and not with you, then it stays with them. Those insults belong to them, not you. Let’s help children to understand this from an early age!


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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.