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|01-7-2012 - Spoiled Children -- What is this beast?
||My mood while writing this blog:|
When I was checking my email yesterday, I saw a news link to an article that asked, "Are American children spoiled?" The title was, of course, meant to be inflammatory. Journalists work that way. Ya gotta snare those readers in so that the advertising on the page pays off.
And it did work. I read the article.
It didn't say anything that I didn't already know. What was more interesting were the comments at the end of the article. Lots of people described spoiled or rude behavior they had encountered, and lots of people also described some truly brilliant and beautiful kids.
I have a number of childless acquaintances who hate children. They are of the opinion that children are all "spoiled" and "irritating" and "costly." I always wonder exactly *how* these people grew up, because that has not been my experience at all. I *do* know really irritating and rude children, but granted, they have really irritating and rude parents. So I totally see where their behavior comes from.
On the other hand, I know some truly wonderful people who have kids who are not only caring, but creative and thoughtful. I absolutely know it's because their parents are that way, and their children model their behaviors on them.
I also came across this article today:http://apa.org/news/press/releases/2008/02/children-goal.aspx
February 19, 2008
Children Show Goal-Oriented Behavior by Age 3
Study shows when kids' actions reflect their awareness that some outcomes are worth chasing more than others
WASHINGTON—Hang on, parents. After the
terrible twos come the goal-oriented threes. Kids seem to grow into the
ability to act in pursuit of goals outside of what they can immediately
sense sometime around that age, according to a new study published in
the February issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, published by the American Psychological Association (APA).
found that by around age 3, children appear to shape their behavior in
response to the outcomes they've come to expect. Anticipated outcomes
that they value move them to act more than do outcomes that they don't –
a hallmark of emerging autonomy. . . . It's all a part of growing up. As the authors concluded, “This capacity
[to internalize one's control over the environment] is an important
component of becoming a fully autonomous intentional agent.”
This article really doesn't say anything that most people already know. Someone just had to do their thesis, probably, so as long as one did it with statistics, one's golden.
I think it's so important though to keep this goal-oriented behavior in mind when rearing kids! Luckily my husband agrees. His hypothesis about why many modern kids are spoiled is that "they never have to work. Parents go to work, and raise money to feed them, clothe them, buy them expensive toys. It used to be that if kids were old enough, they helped raise the animals, cook meals, clean the house. Nowadays, parents do it themselves, and leave the child to play Playstation. They have no concept of how to survive."
In a way, I think he's right. So I've tried to include my toddler in all the day-to-day things that I do. I have let him help make meals (even though it's tons messier when he does!), clean windows, mop the floor (even though I have to clean up after him), clean my sailboat (He actually did pretty good with this, although most of the dirt got on his pants as he scooted across the deck.), and pick out vegetables or fruit at the grocery store.
Now that he's more coordinated, I let him help me load the washing machine and pour the detergent in. He knows how to put the dirty dishes in the sink. I've even tried to let him help me wash the dishes (not working well yet, but he loves to play with the sponge).
He has already tried to feed the dogs, and we had to stop him from doing that!
When I let him play, I try to let him think of things that he wants. He gets to choose. He makes the decision. He has to know what he wants before he can do something successfully. That's so true for life as well.
The daycare he goes to has multitudes of caretakers. Some of them have taught him some undesirable behaviors. But the latest one has been very sweet. She's finally teaching him to say "Yes, ma'am." and "Yes, sir." And in her environment, he's stopped doing some of those undesirable behaviors that really annoyed me.
It really does boil down to caretakers who understand that kids can learn, and learn to be thoughtful. I remember once reading a book in which a woman said she didn't want her daughter to grow up being a doormat, and so she encouraged her independence and talking back to adults.
I find that disturbing, because one of the key parts of survival is knowing when someone is giving good advice. If one is always rejecting authority, one is definitely gonna miss some crucial tidbits, some of which may someday save one's life. I think, rather than teaching her daughter to reject authority and to talk back when she disagrees, she needs to learn a balance of listening, and then discussing, a method which is far more productive than outright rejection of foreign ideas.
But try telling that to her mom. She obviously already rejects any ideas outside of her paradigm. And her daughter will learn her ways.
I honestly hope that my husband and I can rear our kids to be thoughtful, productive, non-doormat grown ups.
1 Comments on Spoiled Children -- What is this beast?lastflingoftheovary40
- Sunday, 1 Jul I agree, all my children do chores, even my 2 year old. He knows all his colours and helps me sort the washing into whites, blacks, reds & purples and blue greens and yellows. He likes to cook, and loves to smash eggs ready for whisking, although in practice I spend more time getting shell out than I do whisking. He uses the hose in the garden to water my plants and vegetables. He helps check if the produce is ready for picking. He helps peg out the washing, and loves pushing the hoover around. As he gets older he will do more. This may be inflammatory, but I think it is child abuse NOT to give your child chores. The role of a parent is to nurture and train your child to be a well adjusted contributor to adult society. My eldest start University here in the UK in September, although I am going to miss her very much, I will try hard not worry too much about her. I have taught her how to cook, clean, wash and iron, shop for value for money (and not just food and clothing) and budget for unexpected expenses. She knows how to navigate her way safely on her own in unknown areas, and research is key to making a risk analysis for her safety. She knows how to handle herself for job interviews as she will need to get a new part time job when she moves. She has saved up and bought her own holidays in hotels and arranged her own transport. She will be living a couple of hundred miles away, so she knows I cannot come and rescue her when times get tough, but I will always be there by phone.If she was a typical British teenager, who has been spoon-fed all their lives, given pocket money on demand, lazed around on playstations and thinks boiling a kettle for a Pot Noodle is cooking, I would be tearing my hair out how she would cope in September.As much as I will miss her, I realise that she is entering her final phase of childhood, and that her life will take its own path, which may mean "home" becomes somewhere else other than my house. As she flies the nest, I hope she soars, but I know that she can always find her way back.With another child getting ready for Uni in 2013, she is rounding out nicely. My 12 year old still has much to learn, and as much as she dislikes her chores now, in 6 or 7 years time she will see the wisdom of it.The education they get at home is just as important as the education they get from teachers in school. By performing functions they can learn to perfect for themselves is tantamount to binding an able bodied child into a wheelchair, its not right, no matter how good the intentions!Get your little helping now!