What can you do to change it?
Children usually place themselves in situations that are very demanding of their time as an avoidance tactic. Everyone agrees that “good kids” are busy with school, extra curricular activities and have active social lives. Dedicating additional time to these activities and being a “social butterfly” is socially acceptable and is looked upon favorably. You are more likely to “accept the fact” that your child is busy and has less time for other responsibilities like keeping his or her room clean and applying for scholarships. The continuous over involvement over the years becomes a life style. When your child has “down time” it is easy to justify that your child needs time to “recharge” rather than taking care of responsibilities that have been neglected. The longer you allow your child to remain in “creative avoidance mode” the harder it will be to get your child to take on new responsibilities when transitioning from a teenager to adulthood. Are you ready to put a stop to creative avoidance and help your child mature into a responsible adult?
Creative avoidance creates the socially acceptable excuse “I’m too busy” as a means to avoid situations and challenges that are uncomfortable. Rather than dealing with the “root of the problem” the problem continues to grow into a weed that matures, produces seeds and ultimately produces more weeds (and excuses). Metaphorically speaking, if you want your child to become a beautiful garden you have to pull out and toss the weeds (and excuses). So let’s start pulling weeds. Here are 3 common “negative self talk” conversations your child has that are acting like weeds and taking up space in your child’s “head”.
1) “I don’t want to pay attention to how I feel.”
“I don’t like how I am feeling when talking about new responsibilities like searching for scholarships. If I apply, why would scholarship judges choose me as a winner? I have friends who are smarter and more talented than me. They have higher GPAs and higher SAT scores. They take more AP courses and they are better athletes. If my friends are better than me than what chance do I have of winning scholarships?” Rather than asking friends if they are applying for scholarships, your child is quietly engaging in an ongoing self conversation that questions his or her self worth. It is easy for your child to engage in all kinds of activities so he or she does not “have time” to pay attention to how he or she is feeling. If your child is not spending time paying attention to how he or she is feeling and deciding to make a chance then your child is not likely to strive towards seeking solutions that will develop his or her confidence.
2) “I don’t want to try, fail and confirm I am a failure.”
In school students are taught there are right answers and wrong answers. This leads to a conditioned thinking in polar opposites. “You are smart or you are not. You are talented or you are not. You win scholarships or you don’t.” Therefore your child may be very hesitant to try anything new based on the fear of failing. The negative self talk is “You are good or you are not” rather than “Every master was once a disaster. Is this something worth while to pursue and become a master of?” There is a difference between avoiding failure and seeing failure as a stepping stone to success.
3) “What will others think if I try and fail?”
Creative avoidance is often a coping mechanism for not knowing how to handle situations if they do not turn out as planned. For example, your child is concerned that if he or she applies and does not win scholarship money others will perceive him or her as a failure. “If everyone knows I applied for a scholarship, they are going to ask me if I won. I would hate to have to tell everyone I lost.” To avoid these uncomfortable conversations, your child may not to even try to accomplish something he or she wants. True supporters want to see your child excel. True supporters ask questions because they are coming from a place of curiosity rather than from a place of wanting to be judgmental.
Creative avoidance leads your child to being overly engaged in a wide variety of activities that are socially acceptable as a means to be “too busy” to address situations and challenges that are uncomfortable. Creative avoidance usually stems from wanting to avoid uncomfortable feelings. Feelings can stem from believes that are untrue and are like weeds that need to be “pulled” to make room for flowers to flourish. Creative avoidance can be diminished when you understand what your child is avoiding and give your child tools to overcome the discomfort. When you understand that feelings of unworthiness are the “root problem” then you can pull the weeds (negative beliefs) out from the roots, so they don’t grow back.
It is normal to question one’s ability and feel unworthy at times. However it is not healthy to stay in this emotional state. Help your child move out of this emotional state by ask yourself… “What activities can my child be engaged in that develops his or her capabilities and confidence so he or she feels worthy?” By reframing the situation and presenting your child with a small challenge, you provide your child the opportunity to address the discomfort in a way that says “I acknowledge the way you feel, and I am not arguing saying ‘you shouldn’t feel that way’. Rather I am acknowledging it and moving on to a solution about what can be done so you don’t feel ‘stuck’ feeling discomfort.”
No one likes to feel uncomfortable and creative avoidance is a means to avoid uncomfortable feelings. Creative avoidance is commonly seen as being overly engaged in activities that are deemed to be socially acceptable. It is common to be “too busy” engaged in activities that prevent your child from acknowledging… “I don’t want to pay attention to how I feel. I don’t want to try, fail and confirm I am a failure. What will others think if I try and fail?” Creative avoidance can be diminished when you understand what your child is avoiding and give your child tools to overcome the discomfort. Observe what responsibilities your child is avoiding so you can provide the proper tools to help your child overcome the discomfort more easily.
Make a list of things your child is creatively avoiding and select the thing you want to address first.
If you have trouble getting your child to complete homework and turn it in on time, it may be because your child is busy watching Netflex, gaming and engaging in other activities that give your child something to talk about when “hanging out” with his or her friends. Your child may consider entertainment activities as part of “having a social life” and it may take higher importance than other responsibilities. This is why it is important for your child to meet new people who are ambitious and working toward their dreams. Ambitious people engage in conversations and will ask your child what he or she is doing to work towards his or her dreams. Ambitious people don’t expect your child to succeed at everything he or she tries. However, they like to ask a lot of questions about what your child is doing because they are curious and they want to hear about the journey. They want to celebrate the wins with your child and they want to be supportive when things are tough.
Are you concerned about how to help your child make new ambitious friends? If so, then you are going to want to know about a private Facebook group that is designed with a “red rope” to keep ambitious people in and unambitious people out. Find out more about this group in the Virtual Master Class How To Select A Relevant Career And Afford College (Without Stress Or Going Broke).