Today I want you to think about whether you are helping your children to become empowered or entitled. Empowered means I feel confident to go out and make things happen. Entitled has the exact opposite effect. It means I feel that I should sit back and let things be handed to me.
I'm not going to get into the reasons why our society increasingly feels entitled; there's plenty of blame to go around. I'd rather help you spot signs of entitlement feeling in your children, so you can deal with them.
Immediacy - Not only do I want what I want, but I want it now. Kids see this all over the place, and it's easy to buy into the idea of not having to wait. We don't cook; we drive through. When a commercial comes on we change the channel. Don't get me wrong; there's nothing wrong with these actions. They just demonstrate how we've been able change our world to an immediate one. If your child has unreasonable expectations of how fast things should happen, and he/she is old enough to understand time, keep an eye on this.
Laziness - why should a child work for anything, if his/her parent or teacher is going to give it without effort? Of course there is a place for gifts, but to counteract this, have your child help you with projects. Show the relationship between what you do and what you earn. Tell them about your job and the pay for it. Let them see the relationship between effort and reward.
Irresponsibility - much like the previous point, why should a child clean up after himself if someone else is going to do it for him? In my opinion, even the president of the company should stoop to pick up a piece of paper on the floor, not expect the cleaning people to handle it. No, that's not his job, but it sets a good example. Make a point to teach your children to pick up what they drop, to wipe up what they spill, and to clean up personal emotional messes too. When our children were young, I always made sure each one of them had assigned responsibilities for household duties, laundry, sweeping, dishes, etc. Responsibility can be learned.
Jealousy - everyone else has this device, so I need it too. As parents we've moved from giving our children everything they need to everything they want. Teach them that it's okay to not have everything. It builds character to do without some of the things in life that would be "nice".
Please take a few moments to watch for these and implement corrections as you see fit. You will enjoy the benefits for decades to come as your children move on to adulthood.
In His Service,
We all like to receive compliments, but have you ever thought about what makes a "good" compliment? Dr. Todd Whitaker, a noted researcher and author, lists five elements that make praise effective. Here are the five.
Authentic - if the person being praised or complimented (I'm using them interchangeably here) feels the compliment is not real, it's dead on arrival. So don't just make up stuff. That sounds easy, but we do it with our kids all the time just to make them feel better. Warning - they can smell it a mile off.
Specific - if I get a general "that's good" I'm still not sure what the other person likes. Take the time to use descriptive words. And by the way, a look in the eyes helps a lot in this area as well as the authenticity.
Immediate - the sooner the better. This almost goes without saying, but it's worth repeating. The closer the compliment to the action, the more meaningful it is.
Clean - this is hard. It means if I'm complimenting you to get something from you it's not a compliment at all. It's manipulation. But if I can honestly say this action is for my child's best not just my own, that's not manipulation. Motivation is the key; why am I praising?
Private - the most powerful praise is done when just between the two of us. Praise in front of a group can embarrass or even seem to be manipulative. Just do it privately, and it will mean more.
All the above are somewhat obvious, but often we just forget or get a bit too lazy to follow through as we should. Remember, you are your child's coach. God has blessed you with these precious children. Thanks for allowing us to partner with you in that endeavor.
In His Service,
I hope your family will enjoy the next four days off from school and do some things together. The time you have with your children at home is a short few years, so please make the most of it. As we recognize what Jesus has done for us, this is truly the high point of the Christian year.
This week I want to brag on how well our bands performed at the Houston Symphonic Band Contest at Kincaid last week. When they earned a Superior award and a Sweepstakes award, I was very proud. I'm also naturally quite skeptical of awards in general, because in our society "award inflation" is rampant.
The director of the event assured me that 3, 2, and 1 ratings were relatively evenly distributed among the bands. A 1 rating in both performance and sight reading earned the sweepstakes award.
A good portion of the success is attributable to parents who encourage their children to practice and eagerly support events such as this. Mr. Struckmann is to be commended too for his work preparing these bands and the vision for outstanding bands at Epiphany. When I complimented him on this, he told me that he always does his best to prepare for these contests. With so many details, something can always go wrong, but in this case it all came together. I'm pleased and proud that it did.
Blessings on your celebration of this weekend,
We hear a lot about stress today, both for adults and for children. Some children seem to be very stressed, and certainly stress can have negative consequences on our physical and emotional health. So how do we teach our children to handle stress? Again, I want to paraphrase Dr. Tim Elmore, noted researcher and writer on family emotional issues. He lists six ways to help our children.
1. Limit the number of activities in which they are involved. Notice I said "limit" not "eliminate". Extracurricular activities are good, just not when they take over our lives.
2. Be sure to eat and sleep well. This is something we all know, but for some reason make an "exception" to it every day. A daily exception is not an exception at all; it's the norm. Having the parental self-discipline to set a good bedtime regimen is one of the quickest and most obvious ways we can help our children.
3. Teach children that stress is neutral. It's not necessarily positive or negative, but our reaction to it can be either. Children (and their parents) need to learn how to manage stress, because it's inevitable part of life. For example, when we lift weights we stress the muscles and they respond by strengthening. In contrast, we can tear those muscles and cause long term damage. In the same way managed stress in our emotional life can be positive or negative depending upon how extreme it is and our response to it.
4. Condition them to do difficult tasks and learn resilience. As early as possible, challenge children to do hard things. When they tackle things which make them struggle, they grow from it. Learning this concept early in life will help them throughout the rest of their life.
5. Enable them to locate their strengths and work in those areas. For all of us, our stress level goes down when we operate in our sweet spot. Often we can use a strength to overcome a weakness.
6. Tell them stories of people who learned to work with stress. They love to hear stories, either from your past, a relative's past, or from some friend. They learn by stories and will remember the concept longer.
None of these are difficult, and most of them are relatively intuitive. I would bet that most of our families already do almost all of these things. I raise them just in case one or more are helpful for you.
In His Service,