Giving kids incentives to do things for themselves

Parents love their children more than anything, which is obviously a good thing, except for when it leads to poor decisions on the part of the parents. Often parents choose to express their love for their child by behaving like they are the child’s personal slave, giving them whatever they want on demand and allowing them to do whatever they please. There is a very apt word for this: spoiling. Although the parents mean well, this type of love can be very damaging to their child. Without intention, the parents are most likely harming the child’s chances of succeeding on their own in society in future.

By creating what are known in China as ‘Little Emperors’ – children who have always been given what they want and more, you are setting them up for a big shock which they might not be able to deal with. A child may well get what he wants from his parents by throwing a tantrum at home, but when he becomes a young adult, such behavior may well land him in a police cell or a hospital bed. Instead of constantly pampering our children and waiting on their every need, they would be much better off being given the opportunity to learn to do things for themselves.

One of the most common ways in which children attempt to assert authority over their parents is by refusing to eat the food they are served. They may well be perfectly right to do so if the food is not fit to be eaten, or may make them sick. However, as this is almost never the case, and as the child cannot provide food for themselves, the real meaning of this behavior is an attempt to manipulate the parent. Many parents will cave in and start asking the child what they would like to eat. In doing so, the child learns that, by throwing a tantrum, they gain power and control over the parent. As many parents have found out, it may become impossible to find something that the child is willing to eat, as the child simply continues to refuse in order to gain more power.

This doesn’t happen when a child is genuinely hungry. The instinct for survival kicks in and they will eat what they are given and even try to take more if they are still hungry. That’s why, as long as you are serving healthy food to your child, you can let them know that it is the only option if they want to eat. As the problem can sometimes come about as a result of children not wanting to chew – a reasonable concern when they are experiencing tenderness from having just lost a milk tooth, you might consider a compromise whereby you liquidize their food in a mixer from Mixer Picks, in order to make it easier to consume.

The same logic applies to older children. If your ten year-old sits playing video games and shouts for you to bring them snacks, you know that you are raising him to be a little dictator. Switch off the games console and teach them how to make a few of their favorite snacks. Help them with this each time they want a snack, until you are sure that they can do it safely. Make sure they clean up after themselves, too. Your child will soon learn that if they really want a snack, they will have to get it for themselves. Being able to do so boosts their self-esteem and confidence and makes them feel able to take on bigger challenges. Actually putting the work in for themselves teaches them that work is rewarded and it also gives them an idea of just how much work you have on your hands.

Once they are able to do this, you can teach them more skills to be able to look after themselves – washing and pressing their clothes, cleaning the house, a spot of gardening, simple grocery shopping. The more they learn, the more they are able to look after themselves. The job of a parent is to raise a child who can do exactly that. If you really want to express your love for your child, set them on the right road now.