I thought it was bad when I was 16 and was learning to teach swim lessons. A parent said to me after their child refused to sit on the wall, swim, or stay at the pool, “We never say no to our child. It is not a nice word.”
I thought it was bad when I was asked to change a grade from an F to a D during my first year of teaching because we didn’t give “F”’s even though the child did nothing.
I thought it was bad when a sophomore got her feelings hurt when I was coaching volleyball when I said, “They do not pay me enough to shag your volleyballs….hustle.” The parent said I was OBVIOUSLY in it for the money.
But no…it has become worse. Much worse. Look around…do we really think this behavior is acceptable? Parents…we are to blame.
We Reward Mediocrity
I cannot tell you how many times parents came into my office when I was a principal and told me how smart their child is because they can download an app. No. Your child is not smart because they can push buttons…so just stop.
Yay! You did a chore. Reward. Yay! You were well behaved. Reward. Yay! You participated. Reward.
We are limiting our kids because we reward everything. What happened to knowing you did your best just because it was expected? What happened to internal motivation?
There Isn’t Any Delay of Gratification
There is nothing to look forward to or aspire to in childhood. Kids get to do everything now. All stars in minor league? Yep. Three teams of all stars? Yep. Eighth grade formal…let’s act like it is prom. Kindergarten graduation? Let’s dress them in robes and celebrate that they know their letters!
We have bought into the idea that kids have to have everything now and when they do, why would they have to work for it? If you get to experience everything, what do you get to day dream about or work towards?
Kids Lie…Stop Believing Everything They Say
Kids will do whatever it takes to get out of trouble and work. Be aware that your child is VERY capable of lying. It is not always the other person. Kids are manipulative. Very manipulative.
The World Does Not Revolve Around You
In the big bad world of adults…
- You get your feelings hurt.
- You do things that are not fun. Most of your day is not fun.
- You do things that are gross.
- You do things that require work with nobody giving you a sticker…it is just your job…so you do it.
- Nothing is free.
- You are responsible for you. Don’t blame others.
- Own your mistakes.
- Fail forward.
- Life is boring and mundane.
- Details matter.
- You have to finish your job.
- You are not in control.
- There are MANY THINGS YOU DO NOT KNOW!!!
- You have to start at the bottom. Every single time.
What are we doing now to prepare our kids for this? There shouldn’t be a new flash at the age of 23 because that is what is happening and they do not have ANY COPING skills to deal with this.
And here is the BIG NEWS FLASH:
STOP EXPECTING SCHOOLS TO DO THIS!!!!! IT IS YOUR JOB AS A PARENT!!!!!!!
My kids are not great. They are average. They have talents and they have AT TIMES been big fish in small ponds. Not anymore. Both girls know that anyone can be a middle school super star, but work ethic, hustle, and personal responsibility get you where you need to be in life. AND…there is always someone better working just as hard.
Daughter: “Mom…I do not understand my Math.”
Me: ”I wasn’t in class. That is your job. I have my degrees and I got them by myself. How can you figure it out?” (Besides she has passed me with math.)
Daughter: “It is hard. I can’t do this… The teacher…. I am not good at this….” Insert sobs, kicking of feet, etc.
Me: “Pity Parties are fine for about 20 minutes MAX. Then, get over yourself and be a problem solver. Let me know how it goes.”
She gets on Kahn Academy…..teaches herself….does not get F.
Daughter at 12: “I want to play midfield. I do not want to play defense.”
Me: “Play defense. You do not get to choose where you play. Learn to play defense the best. You are not consistent as a midfielder. You have to work harder and get better.”
Daughter crying: “But, it is hard. I deserve to be a mid fielder.”
Me: “No. No you do not. You are not the coach. Play where you are put. Complaining isn’t going to make you better, working hard is, so suck it up and stop being a pussy (yes, I said that, notice mom of the year trophy doesn’t exist). You do not get your way just because you want it. AND EVEN WHEN YOU WORK AT IT DOESN’T MEAN SOMEONE IS NOT BETTER THAN YOU!!!”
I hope I am not the only mom having these conversations. I know people are doing it better than me and more articulate. After working with kids from the ages of 3-Early 30’s over the course of 20 years, I can guarantee one thing…..my kids will not be spoiled brats. I love them too much to allow that.