As the holidays approach, teaching our children the whole “me to we” concept can become a challenge. It’s that time of year when wants can magically become needs and despite our best parenting intentions, it’s a trap we all fall into.
While we can blame social media, clever marketing and tired parents for feeding this hungry cycle, it really is in our power to stop it, or at least slow it down.
My recent attempt at battling “entitlement” in our home was to read a story aloud about a local Syrian refugee family’s long and painful journey to Canada. As I passionately read this sad story, I became frustrated as I struggled to keep my kid’s interest. It got me thinking about whether they really know how fortunate we are? Maybe not. Sometimes stories like that are hard to even imagine.
So how do we get our kids connected to the “big picture” and avoid the entitlement trap?
Here are 7 ways to help:
1) Start early – Teach manners and respect early on – you are their best role model.
2) Empower and expect – Share household responsibilities and encourage them to take care of shared spaces.
3) Set boundaries (and stick to them) – No means no! Explain “why” before the situation unfolds. This should curb any temptations and repeat requests.
4) Natural consequences – Avoid the pitfalls of “making it all better,” children benefit from making mistakes, so discuss the situation and brainstorm ways to manage the outcome.
5) Role model family values – Volunteer together, donate toys together, help a neighbour, consider finding a local fundraising cause to join, and help them to develop empathy.
6) Teach money management – What is your family “limit” for material items? If the desired item is above the acceptable limit, have them make up the difference. Can they mow lawns? Sell some toys? Take on a babysitting job? Pool money together with a sibling?
7) Manage expectations – It’s normal to hear about what happens in other peoples’ homes, especially around celebrations. Be clear and honest about where your family chooses to spend money and why that works in your home.
Understood, this is all easier said then done – I get it, but remember parenting is a lifelong journey, so we have time. Let’s work together to create the best citizens yet. Let’s work together to teach those amazing life skills so that they will be passed on for generations to come. Good Luck!
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For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.