Of course, there are other known causes that do contribute to the demise of kids' sensitivity, respect, and appreciation.A few more common reasons bad attitudes are flourishing in today's youth include these classic parenting blunders.
Keeping Up with the Joneses. We want our kids to have the same advantages as the kids next door: schooling, social events, the "in" fashions, gadgets, and technological paraphernalia. So we keep our radar extended to watch what the neighbors are doing, and probably far more often than we'd care to admit, we copy their moves.We may not mean to, but we do compete with those who have similar-aged kids.And—like it or not, we indulge our kids with what we think they must have to "keep up" or "stay ahead."
Experiencing Guilt. Economic hardships or just the desire to have a good life cause many parents to work long, hard hours. And that means more time away from the kids. The result is a good dose of parental guilt.The remedy: giving kids presents, having few rules or requirements, and slacking off on the boundaries between kids and executive authority to make up for the parents' lack of presence. Does it work? No. But it sure is effective in creating overindulged kids.
Feeling Stressed and Exhausted. It's a fast-paced world these days, and many parents freely admit they barely have energy to phone for take-out food. So who has time to deal with a kid's bad attitude? It's far easier to let it slide. And so, more often than not, the bad attitude becomes a habit.
Misunderstanding Self-Esteem. One of the biggest parenting blunders is thinking that saying no to will diminish kids' self-esteem and spirit. Nothing could be further from the truth, so let me set the record straight: authentic self-esteem is about feeling worthy about who you are and competent to cope with life.What kid is going to feel worthy and competent with a bad attitude? His reputation suffers, adults give him those "looks," friends pull away, and he loses invitations. Actually, every arena of his life plummets: social, academic, moral, and emotional. Besides, every solid study on self-esteem finds that kids who are raised in less permissive homes tend to have higher self-esteem. These parents say no, set rules, establish clear behavior expectations, and consistently enforce those standards with fair discipline policies. Enough about self-esteem!
Delaying Childbirth. Many couples are postponing parenthood beyond the traditional childbearing years. Others have had trouble conceiving or adopting a child. So when they finally are blessed with their young ones, they may tend to overindulge, spoil, and have unrealistic expectations of their little miracles.
Succumbing to a Culture of Fear. Yes, we are living in a dangerous and uncertain world, but we can't allow the media focus on kidnappings, terrorism, school shootings, snipers, and other disasters all over the world to influence our need to make us feel that we can keep kids safe and secure.Too many parents are overprotecting their children and spoiling them with material possessions and instant emotional indulgence in hopes of compensating for the bombardment of mean and scary images that surround them.
Misusing Quality Time. A rash of parenting books and child experts rushed to tell parents they must spend a set period of perfect moments with their child each day. So ifJohnny shows a bad attitude or starts to act up during this special, blissful set-aside period of family bonding, the last thing a parent wants is to spoil those precious moments with any kind of confrontation.
Keeping 'Em Stimulated. In a well-intentioned effort to make their kids creative geniuses, many parents pile too many mind benders, growth gadgets, and other forms of intellectual stimulation on their little tykes. Sometimes what a kid needs most is alone time in the dirt. If you continue this overbearing, structured, and calculating intervention, your kid will grow passive and dependent, expect to be entertained, and be easily bored.
Buying into a Materialistic, Consumer-Driven World. Admit it: we're all susceptible to being seduced by advertising, and so are our innocent kids. Need proof? Since the 1970s, the average number of commercials a kid sees in a year has doubled from 20,000 to 40,000. And not only are kids spending more—a whopping $36 billion annually—but they're becoming more consumer driven. A study by Penn State concluded that today's kids are not only more materialistic, but are also launching their big-time shopping careers at much younger ages.And one of the biggest reasons: we're giving in to their whims.
Desiring Something Better for Your Kids. Over the years I've talked to hundreds of parents, and by far the noblest reason given for indulging kids is wanting them to have a better childhood or future than theirs.When they describe the economic hardships or dysfunctional family life some of them have endured, I sympathize. But it's still not a reason to indulge. They mean well, but they're misdirected. They place their value on material goods instead of the values of virtue, selflessness, character, and sacrifice. The difference is huge, and it sends a terribly wrong message to kids.
Wanting to Be Our Kids' Best Friend. Someplace along the way, the role of "parent" has been turned into "friend."And the parent's "relationship" with their child takes precedence over being authority, behavior manager, and guide. Reprimanding bad attitudes is not part of this agenda.The risk to the parent's popularity with their kid—and his friends—is far too great.
Now don't get me wrong: more often than not, our parenting intentions are honorable. After all, we don't want our kids to be brats; we want the best for them.We want them to be happy, successful, and fulfilled.We hate to reprimand them. We hate to say no.We want our kids to be popular and have just as much as the next kid. So we give them everything we think they need—or want—along with their bad attitudes.We enroll them in lots of activities and drive them to every known event and gathering. But sometimes our good intentions—and usually quite unintentionally—can become terribly skewed.
Here's the problem.We may be overlooking what really matters most in our kids' lives: that they turn into good and decent human beings. After all, years from now, the soccer game goal, SAT score, and those violin lessons will count little compared to the kind of adult your child has become. And one of the biggest things that will hinder your kid's character and reputation as a human being are those selfish, self-centered, rude, defiant makings of bad attitudes.
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