Do not give in to immediate gratification. Our intent is to make our kids comfortable and happy, but we are actually making their future much, much harder.
My friends and I often discuss the “everyone gets the same” phenomenon that’s sweeping our communities. In an effort to protect fragile self-esteems, every child must be recognized, everyone gets a trophy, and everyone wins. Please tell me how the heck it builds self-esteem when your child gets things she does not deserve!
That is not pouring concrete and letting it set, creating a strong foundation of self-worth, drive, and motivation. That is loading up a sundae with whipped cream. And guess what? Not only is it unhealthy, but it melts!! It looks awfully high at first, but it lasts all of five minutes before turning to mushy goo.
My neighbor Cheryl is one of the most put-together, secure, and confident people I know. She is always laughing, positive, and happy, but also very focused and strict, in an incredibly loving way. Her daughter is in fifth grade and plays basketball. During one game, her daughter decided to zone on her shoes instead of the game, gave no effort at all, and even stomped her foot when the ball was stolen from her. After the game (which her team lost), the coach followed his tradition of giving each player a star pin: Best Effort, Best Running, Most Points, etc. Well, Cheryl had to bite a hole through her lip as her daughter got a star for Best Sportsmanship.
As soon as they got into the car after the game, Cheryl turned around and faced her child. “Do you really think you put forth any effort or sportsmanship during that game? Do you think stomping your foot earns you that star?” Her daughter didn’t even think hard before replying, “No ma’am.” So Cheryl said, “Give me that star. Next practice, you are returning it to Coach and telling him you didn’t earn it.”
Cheryl held her ground and consistency, making her daughter give it back at the next practice. And did the Coach coo, “Oooh, it’s okay, honey, you’ll earn it next time” Nope. He backed Cheryl up and told her daughter, “You are right to give this back. You didn’t earn it.”
So get rid of the TV, the latest coveted war game, the trophies for simply showing up at a track meet, and any soppy attitude. When you make your child earn what he wants, you are giving a tremendous gift. You create a strong, independent, driven person. I know we enjoy indulging our children, but we confuse this with love. It is not love. It’s harmful and doesn’t meet their needs. I know you know it. You can see it in their behavior.
Do the right thing. Meet your children’s needs. Teach real love, respect, and responsibility. Give your child a true sense of self-esteem and self-worth. There may be a few tears and pain now, but if you wait until they have to learn this on their own, the pain will be one hundred times greater. For you and them.