The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: January 2013

Monday, January 28, 2013

Breaking your child's sense of entitlement

This guest blog is from my friends at The author summarizes what I've been saying for years - reward good behavior, ignore bad behavior, and don't create little mercenaries by rewarding with money all the time!

Raising children in a reasonably privileged household and ensuring that they have all of the opportunities that privilege affords them without creating a false sense of entitlement is difficult to do. However, breaking a budding sense of entitlement that’s already beginning to take hold is even more of a challenge. While you naturally want to do everything in your power to make your children happy and provide them with the best possible life, it’s important to remember that their childhood training needs to be grounded in the idea of helping them become productive, independent members of adult society. Stripping away the negative trappings of privilege, like the loss of pride, responsibility and initiative that come with feeling that good things are owed by virtue of existence is essential, especially if you’re not willing to spend the rest of your life financially supporting children who feel as if they’re deserving of the easiest road through life.

Give Rewards, Not Lavish Gifts
So much of commercial marketing is directed at children, teaching them from an early age that their value in society is attached to how many of the coolest gadgets, toys and outfits they can collect. Combating the influence of a consumer-driven culture is one of the most difficult tasks the modern parent faces, but it’s also one of the most important. Rather than purchasing every big-ticket item that your child asks for simply because he wants it, sit down together and work on finding a way of helping him earn it. When kids work to obtain the things they want, their possessions have more value and they’re learning a basic tenet of adult life: if you want something, you have to earn it.

Create – and Stick to – a Chore Schedule
Whether you’re working out a system of completing chores in exchange for rewards or have decided that your children should simply be responsible for helping to maintain their living spaces, a chore schedule is one of the most effective ways of teaching children about the necessity of work. Even if you’ve chosen not to connect a weekly allowance or tangible rewards to the completion of their chores, it may be wise to create a chart where kids can check off what they’ve completed or receive stickers for a job well done. Remember that acknowledging their hard work and giving them recognition for their efforts is important, and isn’t the same as bribing them with toys or money to do housework.

Refuse to "Reward" Bad Behavior
At the peak of a public meltdown, it can be very tempting to simply buy the toy your child is screaming for in order to salvage whatever is left of your dignity. By giving in to the screams, shouts and demands, however, you’re effectively allowing your child to hold you hostage emotionally. Learning that his bad behavior earns him the recognition he needs and the physical items he desires only inspires your child to continue the pattern of outbursts when he’s denied something he wants. Refusing to give in to those demands helps him to see that not only does bad behavior not get the results he’s looking for, but that he also has to face the consequences of having a tantrum.

Volunteer as a Family
When you volunteer together, your children not only observe the socially-conscious and helpful behavior that you’re modeling for them, but also experience first-hand just how unfortunate others can be in comparison. One of the first steps along the path of abolishing a sense of entitlement is to help your youngster understand just how much he’s been blessed with and how hard his parents work to provide the things that he has. Seeing people that aren’t so lucky can drive that point home.

Spend Time, Not Money
Assuaging your own feelings of guilt after a divorce or because work pulls you away from home too often by making extravagant purchases is normal behavior, but it can have some unpleasant repercussions. Rather than spending the contents of your wallet in an afternoon, try to spend some quality time together. Busy, working parents may not be able to be with their children as much as they’d like, but there is some time in the evenings or on weekends that can be carved out. Spend that time doing something that you both enjoy that doesn’t involve expensive gear or high admission prices.

Happy parenting!

Friday, January 11, 2013

10 Ways to Make Sure You are Raising an Optimist

I couldn't have said it better myself!  This comes from my friends at

We live in a hectic, stressful world that makes it easy to be pessimistic and depressed. However, these attitudes aren’t helpful and can actually be harmful. Every parent wants their children to be happy, healthy and optimistic about their future, but sometimes can lose sight of how to accomplish that state of mind. Kids who are often sullen and dejected can eventually end up depressed, so it’s important to do what you can as a parent to help prevent that from happening. Here are 10 ways to make sure you are raising an optimist and not a pessimist.
  1. Affection – The first step is to show your children tons of affection. Knowing they are loved and cared for is a big part of helping kids deal with adversity. Failures in life are easier to take when they know they are loved.
  2. Praise – Always praise your child’s accomplishments and be specific when you do. Give them feedback that links their achievements to what they did to accomplish it. An example would be to state how all the extra studying paid off with a good grade on a test.
  3. Monitor – Pay attention to what your child is watching on television, the games they play and the books they read. You should monitor their activities to make sure they’re not exposed to too many bad influences. Also, make sure they’re not attempting to accomplish too much, as taking on more than they can reasonably handle can set them up for failure.
  4. Be an example – Children will often mirror their parent’s attitudes, so be a good example. Kids will only learn to be optimistic if you show them how. Parents who are continually complaining or are pessimistic will pass those traits on to their children.
  5. Reinforcement – When your child expresses optimism, be sure to comment on their great attitude. This positive reinforcement will put the emphasis on the desired behavior instead of focusing on the negative.
  6. Accentuate the positive – When something bad happens, always try to find the bright side. If bad weather cancels an event, find something fun to do instead. Accentuate the positive by commenting how you wouldn’t have had so much fun if the picnic wasn’t cancelled.
  7. Thought catching – Teach children how to do thought catching to prevent negative behavior. When something bad happens ask them what thoughts they had so they’re aware of them and can capture the negativity. Kids often have negative thoughts without ever realizing it.
  8. Minimize failures – Losing a championship or failing a test may seem like the end of the world, but it never is. Parents can raise optimists if they are successful at minimizing failures by putting them into perspective. Point out that life goes on and there will be endless opportunities down the road.
  9. Promote success – Encourage kids with age appropriate activities they are able to excel at to promote success. Having unrealistic expectations only sets children up for failure, so make sure they’re not trying to do too much.
  10. Laugh – The best way to encourage an optimistic attitude is with lots of laughter. Teach children how to laugh at themselves and not take everything so seriously. Laughing is the best way to diffuse a troubling situation.
Life is full of challenges and failures, so an optimistic attitude will go a long way to help your children deal with problems as they grow up. As adults, having this optimism will be an important way for them to achieve success and bounce back from failures. A positive outlook will help them in personal relationships and they can lead happy lives with better mental and physical health.

Remember: Prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child.

Happy Parenting!
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