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Family Matters

Does Your Child Suffer From Affluenza?

February 25th, 2013

Wouldn’t it be great if children were born with a “best practices handbook for child-rearing?”  Unfortunately, this is clearly not the case and, while we all want what’s best for our child, that “best” requires parents who are responsible and raise their children with consistency, love and active parenting. 

But within the context of consistency and active parenting, there is a balance.  Children who are over-protected and overindulged become young adults who over-rely on their (helicopter) parents to complete their college applications and negotiate health benefits with future employers.

Psychologists and child-rearing experts are concerned with an epidemic we call “Affluenza” – the disease of too much, too soon with no appreciation.  What is the prognosis for a child with affluenza?  A lifetime of entitlement. 

Being a responsible parent means that you determine and react to your child’s needs vs. wants.  What your child needs is your unconditional love, despite shortcomings and mistakes.  Being a responsible parent means you provide guardrails when your child tests limits and boundaries. And, being a responsible parent means you allow your child to be unique, while teaching confidence, respect, and how to deal appropriately with emotional struggles.  Delaying gratification and caring about the consequences in the choices he makes, can only make your child a more resilient young adult.

So how do you know if your child is already inflicted with affluenza and how can we reverse its effects?  To leverage a change, we must first recognize some of the more noticeable signs:

  • Your child gets everything NOW.  “No” means “Maybe” if he pressures long enough.
  • Happiness is temporary and almost always conditional on his getting his way.
  • She does not make friends easily because only her needs are important, the world revolves around her.
  • Wants/gets new toys, gets bored easily and then discards them quickly.
  • Misplaced/lost items are not accounted for and replaced by parent without concern.
  • Measures all she has against what her friends have.
  • Cannot accept a failing grade, does not share credit in classroom with other children.

What is the best anecdote?  Finding the right balance between dependence and independence.  Parents must make decisions for children they may not understand or like.  A responsible parent knows you cannot always make your child happy.  In order for children to learn and grow, they must learn how to face and overcome emotional struggles, in order to build a strong foundation needed to conquer adult challenges and struggles.  It is imperative that parents not allow children to take the shortcuts, past the lessons, to get to the prize.

In order for parents to raise a resilient, responsible and respectful child, these are the top 10 best practices:

  1. Meet the needs, check the wants.
  2. Children learn as much from how you teach them, as what you teach them.  Responsibility is a character trait that has to be taught and learned, it’s not instinctive.
  3. Fiscal responsibility must be taught at a young age.  Parents should teach what money is, where it comes from, how to spend it wisely and how to save, spend and give back (charity).
  4. You won’t make your child happy all the time.  They are allowed to make a mistake – but, the lesson is to teach your child to own it, admit it and move on from it.
  5. You are the parent, he is the child. You are your child’s confidante, ally and best cheerleader, not their friend.
  6. Allow your child to make age-appropriate decisions.  Letting your child take ownership and have active participation in the real world will teach responsibility and accountability.  Hold your child to the consequences of his actions.
  7. Routine and chores create “predictable order”.  Chores create time management skills, self-respect and confidence to help him feel helpful and capable.
  8. An additional benefit - chores teach caring for one another, how to share space and time in the home, and individual contribution to the greater whole

While there are no rule books and best practices for every child and the household, you do know what’s best for you and your child.  Take a deep breath and relax.  You will have many decades to be a parent and work on getting it right.

Lori's vibrant  engaging personality have led companies to request her services for workshops and seminars,  lunch and learns and organizational events. She has been quoted in numerous national and international newspapers, magazines, and nationally syndicated radio and television and is the co-author of the widely respected, Good Manners Are Contagious, which is being sold nationally and internationally.  Visit her website at www.GoodMannersAreContagious.com  and for speaking engagements call: (856) 751- 8485.

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