I know some loving parents who do just about everything to make sure their kids are happy every second of the day. If there isn’t the type of food they like in the fridge, they run to the store to buy it. Whenever the newest fad or electronic device comes out, they make sure they’re the first to own it.
Of course, they refrain from requiring any regular chores out of them, because they know the children work hard at school. Besides, it upsets them when they are asked to help.
Unfortunately, and unintentionally, these parents are stealing from their children. These kids are two of the most miserable human beings on earth. They walk around; actually they sit around most of the time, with scowls on their faces. Because their parents have stolen their self- esteem and gotten them hooked on stuff (and getting their way), nothing seems to bring happiness or contentment. Everything is “stupid” or “boring.”
When we train our kids to believe that getting stuff (or having preferences catered to) is the key to happiness, might we be stealing their lifelong joy and sense of fulfillment? We need to teach them that true contentment comes from learning to delay gratification and setting goals and working to earn things rather than being showered with them.
To protect your children from this type of insidious theft, experiment with the following:
- The next time your child wants something, ask, “How do you think you might earn that?”
- Instead of taking on the problem of affording the item, say, “You may have that as soon as you can afford it.”
- Give them some ideas about how they might earn the required cash, and give yourself a pat on the back for not giving in.
- Notice how proud they are when they learn to delay gratification and earn things through good old- fashioned planning and perspiration.