Most of you are weed feeders. It’s a fact. You may not know it, but you are! How so?
Let’s imagine for a moment, that your children’s behavior and emotions can be divided into two categories. “Seeds” is one category, and represents the seeds of happiness, kindness, diligence, openness, responsibility and so on. In other words, this is the good stuff. We want to nurture and grow these positive elements in our homes, of course.
“Weeds” is the second category, and represents whining, disrespect, complaints, negativity, ugliness and so on. In other words….the bad stuff. The behavior and emotions we DON’T want to see in our homes.
Now, if your children are grown or you don’t have kids, this metaphor still applies. In our minds, we have ‘weed’ thoughts and we have ‘seed’ thoughts. The weed-like thoughts are filled with worry, judgement, anger and negativity. Complaints and whining about life…also weeds! So, you see…
You Either Feed Weeds or Feed Seeds!
As you move through your day, whether interacting with toddler or teen, you are often just going with the flow of life, doing what you habitually learned to do. In doing so, we give little consideration to the role and power of our attention.
Yet, your attention is like water. You are feeding the weeds of negativity, OR you are watering the seeds of positivity by giving your attention/energy to one or the other.
When we consistently give our attention to weeds, (unfortunately) the weeds must grow. The ‘weed’ has no choice but to respond to our watering of it. A child’s brain is particularly tuned to respond to what mom/dad/teacher/coach deems worthy of their attention.
This is critical to understand. We think we are doing good by reprimanding, but instead we are feeding weeds. If your child complains repeatedly about your cooking, their teacher, their homework or even their brother…notice what usually happens. If you are like most of us, you instinctively react, and likely provide some feedback. When they whine, we tell them to stop it. Just more weed feeding.
This is no big deal…UNLESS you notice that this has started to become a habit pattern. In many homes, this is the case. They repeat similar complaints or display repeated negative behaviors and you react with repeated comments.
- Child comments, “I hate peas.” Mom says, “They are good for you. Eat them.”
- Child states, “Homework is stupid.” You say, “You have to do it. Stop complaining.”
- Child daily whines, “I can’t. I can’t.” Dad says, “Of course you can.”
Teen grunts, “You’re a jerk!” Both parents yell back in response.
- Child demands mom to find baseball glove. Mom asks where he left it.
- Teen refuses to show homework. Dad lectures once again.
Each child comment is a weed. Each weed keeps getting repeated and consistent attention. This is weed feeding at its worst.
Beware: If You Keep Reacting to Weeds, You Are Feeding Weeds!
The natural law of your child’s brain is quite simple: If you feed a moment, that moment must grow. And your giving attention to any moment repeatedly is feeding it.
We must see that our repetitive comments are not working to change these negative patterns. Instead, if we step back from life, we can see that we are feeding into and strengthening the very behavior we DON’T want. Our efforts are taking us in the opposite direction from what we really want to nurture.
I would also remind you that the same thing happens inside your mind. Our repetitive attention to our own negative thoughts is what feeds them. And we also tend to gravitate to others who will share those weeds with us and feed those weeds together. If we want more positive children, and if we want to personally feel more positive about life, we must follow the strategy below.
Job One: We Must Learn to Starve Weeds
The first and most important step here is to see that weeds cannot be removed with a casual, reactive approach. We must see weeds as a threat to the peace and beauty we want in our homes, and have a clear action plan.
The action play: Starve weeds by repeatedly walking away. Don’t give attention or energy to the weeds. You can even inform the kids that you are now going to simply ignore their whining, complaining and ugliness.
When you start to walk away, please note: The ‘weeds’ are not happy. The ‘weeds’ may get very ugly. The ‘weeds’ increase their efforts to pull you in. Why? Because the ‘weeds’ are hungry for your attention!
Stay strong. Keep walking away. After a week or two, you will see how things take a dramatic turn for the better IF you consistently starve these negative weeds! Weeds only survive from the attention they gain. So, starve those weeds! Do so in your home and do so in your mind. Just turn your life energy away from these negative patterns of behavior, emotion and thought. Then, patiently… watch life respond to the NEW YOU who no longer gives energy to the weeds.