If you ask a group of parents to discuss the problems they face regarding their children, what do they say? They’ll probably mention words like entitled, selfish, lazy, irresponsible, and rebel. These are some serious problems to have in the future of our society! Yet we often just complain about these things rather than getting at the root cause of these problems so that we can fix or prevent them.
If you asked me what the cause of these character traits are, I wouldn’t know. But I listened to a lecture from Teacher Cai, and he explained it very logically and clearly, so I’d like to share these valuable insights with any parents or future parents. The good news is, these traits are preventable with proper nurture.
Entitled and Selfish
At the meal table, who do parents give the most attention to? “Oh son, do you like your food? I made your favorite dish. Eat more! Here have some of this food from my plate as well.” What does the child learn? I’m the center of the world. Other people should make me happy.
What can parents do instead? Show consideration for the adults, and ideally, grandparents if they can be present at the meal table. When children see the happy faces of the receivers, they’ll naturally want to give as well. They might even put food on your plate!
When parents can’t spend a lot of time with their kids, what do they do? “Here sweetie, I brought home a gift for you!” What does the kid learn? Getting gifts from others is normal and to be expected. Others should want to make me happy.
What can parents do instead? Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to spending time with children. If a parent can set aside say 15 minutes every day to spend quality time with children, then children will respect the parents. It could be 15 minutes of reading stories together or doing activities together, not watching TV or playing games.
Many families put their kids in daycare or have nannies. How do these people treat children? Many treat them like a boss, or even like royalty. In such cases, the children will learn I’m powerful. Others should yield to my desires. Parents can mitigate this risk by clearly telling the caretakers to be strict about teaching proper behavior and respect.
In summary, children become entitled and selfish when we treat them like the center of the world. Love must be tempered with wisdom, otherwise, we end up spoiling children. When we spoil children, that nurtures selfishness and entitlement, which ultimately ruins their bright future.
Lazy and Irresponsible
Let’s say you’re cleaning the house or mowing the lawn. Your child comes up and tries to help. What do you do? Your answer will put the child on either the path of diligence and responsibility or the path of laziness and irresponsibility.
Many parents might say, “Don’t worry about it. Just go and study.” Or worse, they tell the child to go play. They say this thinking it’s easier for them to do it themselves, and that the child is too young to do chores right now. Or perhaps they want their child to focus solely on studies to get high grades. What does the child learn? Chores are for other people. I can do whatever I want even though others are working hard.
If children don’t take on any responsibilities (i.e., chores) at home, they never develop their sense of responsibility and confidence in their ability to do things. Later, if there’s an opportunity at school to become a club president, they won’t even think about applying. If you tell them to get a summer job, they’ll resist, saying they don’t want to. Deep down, they’re also scared that they lack the ability to do work.
Parents should assign their children responsibility, like chores, at a young age so that children learn to contribute to the group, appreciate others hard work, and develop confidence in their ability to do work. Hard work at a young age reaps good attitude and habits when older.
Society thinks that all children go through a rebel phase, especially in the teenage years. Teacher Cai explains that actually, the true cause of rebelness is the parents being hypocritical.
For example, the parents might tell their children to work hard and study hard, yet the children see their parents lounging around watching TV. At a young age, they might unhappily yield to the parents’ commands, but their disrespect towards parents will accumulate. Once they get older and bigger, eventually, they’ll rebel.
Another example is when parents punish children too severely. The children then think that their parents have a bad temper, rather than recognizing their own faults that led to the parents getting angry. Then later, when children get upset and you tell them that they shouldn’t get upset, they’ll rebel and get even more upset because they’ll think it’s not fair that parents can get angry yet kids can’t.
Kids don’t learn from your speech, they learn from your actions. When your speech conflicts with your actions, they’ll lose respect for you, and they’ll rebel. To prevent that, we must practice what we preach. If we want our kids to be respectful to elders, we must show a good example by letting our kids see us being respectful to grandparents. If we want our kids to work hard, we must show our kids that we work hard.
Being a parent is hard work. The ultimate goal for parents is to give their children a good life. To do that, parents must nurture positive character traits and get rid of negative character traits in their children.
To prevent children from being entitled and selfish, it’s important to act out considerate behavior to other people (the best candidates are family members) in front of children. To prevent children from being lazy and irresponsible, parents should assign them responsibilities, like chores, from a young age and praise their hard work. To prevent children from becoming rebels, parents have to practice what they preach.