Looking back over the last few decades, many of us may have been raised with parents who expected us to do chores, be responsible for our younger siblings, pack our own lunches for school, clean the dishes after dinner, and complete our own homework. Often times many parents from the 1950s or earlier decades expected their children to get a job and go to school, or at least work on weekends.
How has the pendulum swung 180 degrees? Why are we doing so much for our children? We may be overcompensating for the lack of involvement for the lack of involvement that our parents had in our lives. We may also be following society’s new rules and lifestyles. Often times parents have done school projects for their kids and not had them do it for themselves, wrote papers, cleaned their rooms, and didn’t have them share in family responsibilities. We have become a generation of giving “too much” if we have the financial means. Is this really helping our children?
It is extremely important from an early age to offer your child two choices from the age of 18 months to 2 years. For example, “Would you like to wear your red shirt or your blue shirt?” “Would you like an egg or pancakes?” Instead of dressing our child, teach them independence from preschool age through elementary age to dress themselves. Guide them with clothes that match. When a child enters kindergarten and up, teach a child how to walk in the door and make a snack for themselves, or even learn how to pack their own lunch and organize their own school bag.
Help your child learn how to make their own bed from an early age, put their toys away and clean up their rooms. Role model this for them by showing them how to do it without corrective criticism so they can learn from their own mistakes. Use the words, “No, you must earn this,” “How much have you saved for this,” in order for children to delay gratification and understand the true meaning of gratification.Teach a child the meaning of money. Start with a piggy bank. After a birthday party, have them learn what the word savings means. If they want to earn something have them learn how long it may take from doing chores, extra activities in the home, babysitting, etc.
By giving a child so much materialism and doing things for them, this will teach them how to become an entitled person. It is very important to set boundaries for your child. A boundary could mean, “Please do not interrupt me when I am on the phone,” “Ask permission to take money out of my wallet,” “Knock on my door and I will knock on your door to show respect.” Setting limits, behaviorally and out in public places, is vital for a child to learn how to behave. If not, take them out of the restaurant, or do not place a child in a situation that is not age appropriate for them.
It is vital that we build our children’s self esteem throughout their development in order for them to become autonomous and self reliant adults.
Here is a list of ideas or strategies for you as a parent to provide your child with so they will not become entitled:
- Do not become a “permissive parent” and allow your child to rule the roost in your home. Having rules and being consistent with your rules and appropriate behavior will help a child feel safe and learn the meaning of respect.
- Try not to reward your child with only material items. By being present, talking in a positive way, giving affirmations and playing with them is the best form of love unconditionally.
- Empower your child with the opportunity to learn the meaning of the value of hard work. For example, they may need to clean up the dog doo in the back yard, they may need to sweep and mop the floors before they can go out with their friends, etc.
- Do not replace a toy, cell phone, broken window, or any damage goods right away. Have the child earn part of the money by doing extra chores around the home so they don’t take for granted that objects can be replaced easily or financially.
- Give your child an opportunity to have a job, even if they are under 16. Babysitting, dog-sitting, house-sitting, and numerous other odd jobs can teach them the value of a dollar and how long it takes to make it.
- Teach your children that money cannot buy happiness. Happiness must come from within. Happiness can be a walk on the beach, a bike ride, a walk in the park, sharing family times, and numerous other experiences with people they love.
- Buying and shopping can become an addiction and that is something you must be very careful of. Children at a young age will throw temper tantrums if they don’t get something right away. Do not give in to temper tantrums over objects, food, and things like that. Remove them and tell them that this behavior is not okay, give them a time out or let them know that if they want something they will have to pay for it or earn it as they grow older.
These strategies and ideas can make a huge difference in how you are raising your child. They will learn the art of appreciation and the meaning of having good values in their lives. If you are concerned about how your child’s behavior may be developing, then you might also want to seek professional counseling on parenting skills that may help improve the situation.