Parenting in this day and age is a real challenge. The landscape of our children has absolutely no resemblance to yesteryear. We are thus advised that if we bring up children as we have been brought up, then we would be robbing them of their tomorrow. This in no way means that we have to compromise our values .After all, values inform attitudes and behaviours. We have to cling tenaciously to those values even though we of necessity should change our methodology.
‘In giving our children what we did not have, we have forgotten to give them what we had.’ Sometimes in our love for our children, we unwittingly destroy them by ironically pandering to their wants rather than fulfilling their needs.
All children need love, boundaries, security and consistency. Constraints of space will preclude me from exploring each of these fundamental needs .I want to, as hinted in my introduction, look at instant gratification .It is not surprising that children today are labelled as the I WANT IT NOW GENERATION. It is very easy to succumb to the temptation of yielding to our children; after all who wants to deal with tantrums. Talking about tantrums, I came across a very interesting experience of a mother who was busy on the telephone whilst her two year old child was trying to get her attention. When the mother continued chatting on the telephone, her two year old began to scream and thus got the attention she desired. The next day she took her two year old year old child to a supermarket. What an indelible experience. Her two year old wanted anything that tickled its fancy and when the mother refused –the response was immediate .Tantrums. Children know what works .They will do what you allow them to do.
When children grow up in an environment where qualities like discipline, self-control, perseverance and work ethic are inculcated then you can be rest assured that these will contribute to their growth and all in all facilitate their maturity .In fact studies have clearly shown that kids who have been taught delayed –gratification display the following qualities in their adulthood; self-motivation ,patience, self-control, embracing long –term pursuits, persistence and most importantly having a positive self-image.
You would agree that all parents would want their children to embrace these qualities which are worthy of the highest –emulation. But the picture to-day is a bleak one .It almost feels that parents notwithstanding their best intentions are ‘incubating monsters.’ What you see is recklessness, heedlessness, apathy, defiance and a complete disregard for authority. These children are more likely to be indecisive, stubborn, and impulsive. They will also tend to be more jealous and envious of others, and would perform poorly at school .They will also be frustrated very easily.
Let us look other attributes of the I WANT IT NOW KIDS .The more your child wants to be gratified all the time, the lower his patience and perseverance. It would also impact negatively on his emotional intelligence. So what can parents do?
Delayed gratification and patience are important things to teach our children. It not only translates into our children being better behaved (it really does!), but it also is shaping them into great adults, which is what every parents wants their children to ultimately be. That is the point of parenting after all!
Finally, it is very difficult to speak to children who have grown up with instant gratification about the future when their lives are immersed in the here and now. It is our collective responsibility as parents and caregivers to empower children with the correct attitudes and values so that they will understand fully consequences and accountability. It does not take courage to say No sometimes to your kids. Our parents did!