In an age where kids are growing up to become part of the “entitlement generation,” character and integrity continues to disappear from our children. As parents, we are often the cause of this disappointing trend. Raising kids alone is a difficult task, and raising kids “right” becomes impossible in our society. Here are some little tips that can help us as parents to put an end to the feeling of entitlement.
1. No free lunch – Actually, as a parent you are required to provide your child with a free lunch. This means that you will need to provide your child with either a bagged lunch everyday or money for hot lunch. However, the free lunch must stop there. No matter how rich you are, their allowance should be their lunch money only plus an extra one to two dollars. All other request for money should be denied. Need money for the movies? No. Need money to go to the mall with friends? No. Why put your children through this? The purpose is to teach them that money is not easy to come by. Not only that, they also need to learn that if they want entertainment, the money for entertainment must come from their own savings from what they have. An added bonus, your kids won’t be able to go out as much as they want. Your kids will have to learn that they cannot ask you for money. There will be no bailout from parents. Please know that money from grandparents and yourself is perfectly alright, as in the real world, we sometimes get gifts and bonuses from others as well. Taking this small step will go a long way in teaching your children that they are not entitled to anything and should be thankful for what they have and are given.
2. No chores, no way – Many parents make the mistake of rewarding their children for doing chores. They might even have a schedule that indicates when the reward will be dispense and after how many chores. While these reward systems are well intentioned at heart, they are detrimental to our children’s development. Children, as they grow older, need to learn that chores are a necessity, expected and required of them. Kids need to learn that chores are a part of daily life and that when they grow up they would not be receiving great external rewards for doing their laundry or cleaning their room. They must learn that no one will give you a $100 bill for washing your own dishes everyday for the next 20 years. Having required chores gives your kids not only help teach them necessary life skills but also give them a sense of their responsibilities. Remember, rewards and presents for your kids is perfectly fine and can be given randomly out of your love for them. Sometimes the best gifts are the unexpected ones. Psychologically, intermitten uncontrollable reinforcement (rewards) always work better than scheduled reinforcement that one can control.
3. No Stuff – For kids to truly realize and appreciate what they have, they must first know what it is like to have not. This means that you cannot give your kids the latest electronics, the best toys, or the fanciest clothes. Our natural instincts as parents is to give our kids the best, a better life than what we have. However, what we often fail to realize is what constitute as best and what is a better life. Do we want to raise our kids with the bestmaterial things or raise our kids so that they would have the best morals and best character? Does a better life entail caring for other people or is a better life always chasing after the best electronics. We need to make this distinction for our kids when they are young. No matter how rich you are, this is what you need to do. If they are clamoring for a PS3, we can provide them with a Super Nintendo. They will more often than not have opportunities to play the PS3 at a spoiled friend’s house. Instead of presenting them with a brand new car right after they receive their license, have them share a car with you for a year until they get their second hand “new” car. Not giving you kids every latest thing right away will help them make do with what simple items they have and appreciate the nice things when they finally obtain it for themselves.
4. No complaining – Kids should never learn to complain or whine or tantrum for what they want. Never. If they start to complain or whine or tantrum, you do not give them what they are complaining for. Never. You can listen to your kids but you cannot honor their requests unless they ask appropriately or come up with a plan to obtain them for themselves. This is intended to teach your kids respect and that complaining achieves nothing.
The fight to raise our children the right way is a uphill battle in today’s society. Raising them up to be unentitled in this entitlement generation will give them a definite edge and advantage over their peers. It is our duty to raise our children to a life where they are not fulfilled merely by material things and a life that will not spend their entire life chasing emptiness and flashing lights. Hopefully, you can start these changes when they are young, but it’s never too late to do whatever you can. Until next time, parent well and prosper!