Thursday, March 15, 2018

GROWING KIDS WITH CHARACTER - Hettie Brittz - One Free Book

Parents are faced with the enormous task of not only raising their children to be productive members of society but also helping them grow into the individuals God intended them to be. However, God created each child and each parent to be unique, so what parenting techniques work for some children do not work for others. In Growing Kids with Character: Nurturing Your Child’s Potential, Purpose, and Passion, Hettie Brittz offers parents advice tailored to their own personality as well as to the temperament of each of their children.

Welcome, Hettie. You introduce your book by telling about your misadventures in growing a vegetable garden. How is raising children like growing a garden?
I think the similarity starts with the expectation that one will make a certain investment and reap a predictable harvest, but gardeners and parents both may have experienced many factors beyond their control. Pests, the weather, and our own mistakes sometimes seem to sabotage the outcome. In a garden these are physical variables; in parenting they are often emotional or spiritual. The realization that there will be such hazards and risk factors bring us to our knees, as it does a gardener or a farmer, because we can’t escape the clear need for God’s help in this process.

Growing Kids with Character helps parents identify their child’s natural temperaments and gives tailored insight on how to cultivate his or her personality and gifts accordingly. Can you tell us about the Tall Trees Profiles assessment that helps parents identify their child’s tree type? What are the four types of trees?
The Tall Trees Kids Profile is based on the many fourfold personality theories found in literature, studies of personality, behavioral and learning styles, and observations of many children throughout the years. At the heart of the kids’ profile are four tree types: Palm Tree, Rose Bush, Pine Tree, and Boxwood Tree.

Palm Trees are the spontaneous, social kids who crave our constant attention and hands-on involvement. Like palm trees in nature, they seem to be having nonstop fun in the sun. They need life to be colorful and filled with thrilling possibilities.

Rose Bushes are born with a metaphoric sign on their foreheads: “I’m the boss … Can’t you read?” The first few years of parenting are characterized by a power struggle to be the boss, a struggle that can wear out parents. The Rose Bushes chase milestones, always trying to prove they’re bigger and stronger than we think. I chose a rose bush as their symbol because the flowers remind me of the flowers awarded to winners. Their thorns are a warning that if you step too close, you’d better be prepared for the painful truth and a challenge or two.

Pine Trees balance out these extroverted tree types by being all about peace and harmony. Don’t pines even smell of peace and calmness? They are the kids we often overlook—content, eager to please, and quiet spectators rather than loud participants.

Boxwood Trees are the fairness barometers. In nature, boxwoods are used to make chess pieces and tuning pegs for musical instruments. Boxwood Tree kids think ahead, as one should when playing chess, and see life as a set of black-and-white choices. Even the little ones will point out rules to their friends and will fine-tune their own behavior and that of others for their teachers or parents. In nature, boxwoods can be pruned into perfect shapes or square hedges; Boxwood kids are equally moldable.

Most people are a combination of two. Temperament literally means “mixture” after all! A smaller percentage is close to one “pure” tree type, while the exceptions among us are a combination of three trees.

I believe our children’s design fits their purpose. Therefore, a child with a calling that requires an adapted style that can fit many diverse requirements is usually equipped with a broader personality style. Those kids who are created for a specialized area often test as one dominant tree type.

Since the parents complete the profile for each of their children, is there a danger of them unconsciously answering the way they try to shape their child into reacting rather than how their child would naturally act or respond?
Yes, unfortunately our research has shown that although moms generally know their kids well, they find it almost impossible to be objective. That is precisely why the Tall Trees Kids profile is set up in a way that parents can involve their older kids, family members, and even teachers in determining their child’s personality profile. Up to four people can participate, which guarantees a much more accurate assessment of the child’s needs.

Putting labels on children is typically frowned upon, but you offer that labels aren’t necessarily a bad thing. How can labels be helpful?
I truly don’t like labels. The Tall Trees terminology was a reaction to the labels I was given years ago. I wanted a way of talking about personality that would still acknowledge the possibility of change, growth, and metamorphosis. Trees are like that, aren’t they? No two of them are identical. They don’t look the same in all four seasons. Even in the same tree family—there are so many pine tree species and rose bush varieties. Boxwoods come in every imaginable shape, and palms can be tiny love palms that fit in a pot or towering palm trees such as the ones on the beaches of Miami. I don’t insult a tree when I use its name, and I don’t insult an individual when I use labels such as woman, teacher, ballet dancer, or soccer player, do I? The Tall Trees “labels” are merely ways of acknowledging a child’s uniqueness, and they act as care instructions.

When I say a child is a Boxwood Tree, I’m also saying, “This is a child who needs ongoing affirmation, structure, and clear boundaries.” I’m using the label to help others love this child well, not to limit the child’s potential. If I said you were a diabetic and used that label, I’d be telling people how to care for you. If I call someone a single mom, the label helps me have grace with her when she can’t make it to all the activities her kids participate in. Using the tree type labels has the same motive. If I know a child’s tree type, I can make sure I have a fair expectation of him or her.

Why do parents need to change and shape themselves to raise their child instead of demanding the child be more pliable? Doesn’t this put the child in charge and teach him or her that everyone should bow to his or her needs?
It can easily seem as though Growing Kids with Character promotes child-centered parenting that coddles kids by ensuring the world accommodates all their needs while never asking them to grow beyond their comfort zone. That is something real life simply won’t do for the child, and I can say emphatically I’d never recommend that approach.

Instead, the idea is to discern the absolute essential emotional and spiritual needs of each child and to fulfill those while identifying the areas in which each child will need a bit of discomfort, challenging expectations from our side, and support to change potentially harmful or unhelpful characteristics. Let’s revisit the idea of a gardener for a moment. The balance is always struck between giving the necessary fertilizer and protection against frostbite, which could destroy the tree on the one hand, while doing painful pruning for the sake of a good harvest on the other. Similarly, it would be unreasonable to expect that a tree would bear fruit while withholding what is essential to the particular tree’s flourishing, wouldn’t it? A child has to feel loved, accepted, understood, and believed in before such a child can press beyond selfishness and entitlement.

What challenges do parents face when their personality is one tree type and their child is a very different type?
The toughest part is anticipating needs that are so far removed from ours. I can’t, for example, imagine that someone would want to be a passive spectator because I always engage, even when I shouldn’t. I am a contra-pine (a combination of the driven Rose Bush, the adrenaline-seeking Palm Tree, and the dutiful Boxwood who needs to finish everything). God gave me a Pine Tree daughter who is my opposite. She is content to be on the sidelines 90 percent of the time. She can stop a project that doesn’t interest her halfway in and have fun sitting down. In parenting her with her nature in mind, I have to curb the urge constantly to hurry her up, press her to participate, or push her forward into leadership situations where she’s not inclined to step up of her own accord. If I do those things, she experiences a need to be someone she isn’t to win my approval.

Now imagine an outgoing Palm Tree mom whose Boxwood child would rather sit and color than go on an outing. This mom may need to slow down, sit down, tone down, and essentially dial down her volume and gestures to connect with her child.

Not only does each child have his or her own natural personality, but each parent has a natural way of parenting as well. How is it possible to work with your natural tendencies yet parent each child individually?
It starts with believing that God has a design for your family. Your tendencies and style are not a problem. They are God given and will do two things: provide essentials that are not present in your children’s make-up and are part of their journey to maturity, and challenge your children by creating the type of discomfort that makes both parent and child grow.

Take for example the easygoing mom who resists schedules and routine. She’s probably a Pine Tree and Palm Tree rolled into one. This Pine-Palm mom is super nurturing, tends to have lots of grace with mistakes, and creates a warm atmosphere. God very likely will give her a Boxwood Tree or Rose Bush child to raise who might not appreciate her style all the time. A Boxwood kid would need routine and, as a toddler, will have many whiny tantrums over little mistakes and frustrations, which the Pine-Palm mom may not be able simply to smile or hug away. The end result will be a mom who starts planning and structuring her home life more carefully, and a child who learns to take certain things in stride and be more flexible. Both ultimately adapt and win! It becomes challenging when we have two or more kids, each with his or her own needs, but the same principle applies. Each child will smooth a different set of our rough edges, and each will gain something unique from us as his or her parents despite the apparent clashes.

Parents often struggle to make sure their children feel as though they are being treated equally. However, you write about disciplining and communicating with your children based on their personalities. What happens when a child sees this as showing favoritism toward his or her sibling?
When we give each of the four types of children exactly the same consequence for an action—let’s say an hour in their room—two of the four types will likely welcome the privacy and peace, while the other two will feel bored or restricted by the time-out. This means disciplinary or corrective measures need to feel corrective to each child, or they won’t work. The child who feels corrected when simply given “the look” does not need another privilege revoked. The child who pushes back when corrected is effectively applying for stronger action from the parents’ side. Thus, we can explain the seeming inequality in discipline this way: “Discipline is meant to change your heart, your mind, and your actions. You are so different from your brother that we have to use different things to change your heart when you disobey us than what we use when he does. There are different things in his head and heart than in yours, and you don’t behave the same. We, in turn, don’t behave the same toward the two of you. We teach you different things because God’s plan for you two is different.”

At the end of the book you include an addendum on “Spanking and the Biblical Mandate.” What reasons did you have for devoting an extra chapter on this specific form of discipline?
In the original version of the book, published in South Africa, the little bits about spanking were addressed in the Palm Tree and Rose Bush chapters as a discipline option among many others that generally work better with their temperament at a young age than with the Boxwood Tree’s and Pine Tree’s temperaments. I decided to remove it from those chapters and only address it as an option in the back of the book because of the understandable issues with spanking being outlawed in many countries around the world and with child abuse in this area becoming a more conscious social concern. In theory, many parents say they oppose it, but in practice we see an overwhelmingly large percentage of parents admitting to spanking their kids on occasion. I felt there had to be a guide for a biblical way of doing what parents end up doing in anger or frustration, even when many don’t want to consider it an option. It is my way of saying we should at least reflect on both sides and decide where we stand on the spanking issue, so that when we, a spouse, a grandparent, or another adult differs from us about the matter, we can say we’ve carefully considered it and have made up our minds about how it will or will not figure into how we raise our kids. Reports from countries where spanking has been outlawed or effectively phased out several years ago are beginning to come in, and the results of that social adjustment are not resoundingly positive. I felt parents needed to know that.

Why is it important to cultivate your child’s unique way of encountering, following, and worshipping God?
God is a God of creativity and diversity. He makes us works of art, and I believe He wants us to glorify Him in colorful, unique ways. When we force a spiritual style and spiritual journey on our kids, they may not worship God the way He intended for them.

The apostles Peter and Paul had vastly different encounters with God. Peter (a Palm Tree) was called from his boat to a more exhilarating adventure—fishing for men—while Paul (a Rose Bush) had an almost traumatic encounter with God. God grabbed Paul from behind, struck him with blindness, confronted him about the direction of his life, and sent him a message that he would suffer much for the cause of Christ. Moses (a Boxwood Tree) encountered God in the miraculous sight of a burning bush and was given his calling in great detail, while Abraham (a Pine Tree) had sit-down meals with God and angels in a precious friendship-style relationship. It’s going to be the same with our kids; each will find, hear, follow, and honor God uniquely.

I believe in a purposeful design for every atom and cell in God’s creation. Our kids have designer DNA in their bodies and a calling in their souls and spirits. Their temperaments are adjusted to the same tune so their whole being will worship Him as they find their God-given passions and follow these passions toward their purpose in Christ.

Learn more about Growing Kids with Character and Hettie Brittz at or by following her on Facebook (HettieBrittzAuthor) or Twitter (@hettiebrittz).

Thank you, Hettie, for sharing this interesting book with us. I know many of my readers will want to read it.

Readers, here are links to the book.
Growing Kids with Character -
Growing Kids with Character: Nurturing Your Child's Potential, Purpose, and Passion - Amazon Paperback
Growing Kids with Character: Nurturing Your Child's Potential, Purpose, and Passion - Kindle

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Hettie Brittz said...

Dear Lena

Thank you for this opportunity. I look forward to connecting online and maybe someday in person! God bless your ministry and your writing!

Growing together!

Britney Adams said...

As a mother of three, I would enjoy reading this book. Thank you for sharing!

Britney Adams, TX

Danielle H. said...

As a mom of three, this will be a most useful parenting tool. Danielle from Michigan

Melanie Backus said...

I would love to give this book to my daughter. I think it would be helpful with three children. Melanie Backus, TX

Connie said...

I have a 4 year old granddaughter. Sounds great!
Connie from KY

Sharon Bryant said...

Enter me!!
Conway SC.

Natalya Lakhno said...

The book sounds like a great resource for the parents!
Blessings, Natalya from CA