Balancing my Child’s ‘Needs’ and ‘Wants’
Posted on: March 22, 2018.

Author: Mrs. Radhika Mohan, Educational Consultant

Dr. Connie Dawson states, “When parents give children too much stuff that costs money, do things for their children that they can do for themselves, do not expect children to do chores, do not have good rules, and let children run the family, parents are overindulging.”

What do our children need from us? Love, guidance, shelter, food, clothing, medical care and, a good education – that’s it! Everything else is a want: video games, iPods, cell phones, the latest in fashion – whatever new items their friends have. Children’s main weapon: the ‘nag’ factor. Kids have understood that if they nag enough, for long enough, parents will give in. The main culprit here is the advertisements children are exposed to.

Parents know the pressure their children are exposed to, and that it comes from their children’s peers. Consequently, they buy their kids more “stuff” than they can ever use, wishing that their child will “fit in” and be accepted by their peers. Sadly, our self-absorbed society has told parents to help their children feel good about themselves, that it is the parents’ duty to make their kids feel happy. But underneath it all, kids don’t need parents who make them happy through overindulgence; they need parents who will make them capable individuals.

Parents should stop falling for the ‘nag’ factor; they should refuse to overindulge kids. Some examples could be like allowing a five-year-old to dress up like a pop-star, removing curfew from a young adult with a new driving license, tying shoes or dressing up a four year old who is perfectly capable of doing it himself, or doing the laundry for the teenager who is more than capable of doing it for himself. A mom buys her daughter the trendiest clothes because Mom believes it is a reflection of her own style. A parent gives her child the best of the best to make that parent look successful.

According to a study, overindulged children believe that it is difficult to be happy unless one looks good, is intelligent, rich and creative. Happiness depends more on others than on themselves. If I fail partly, it is as bad as being a total failure. Happiness depends more on most people I know. I can’t be happy if I miss out on many of the good things in life. Being alone is being unhappy. If someone disagrees with me, it’s because he doesn’t like me. If I fail in my work, I consider myself a failure as a person. So it is very important to stop overindulging kids.

Instead, let us teach them the difference between a need and a want, and then make them work for their want. For example, instead of buying that new video game for your child, you could give him two options: place it on the birthday (or Diwali) wish-list, or do extra duties to earn the money to buy it themselves. If the child is willing to work for his special booty, he’ll take better care of it, be more grateful for it, and think long and hard before turning a ‘want’ into a ‘need’ in the future.

Children should learn patience and parents should provide ample opportunities to help them cultivate this priceless virtue. We need to teach children that it takes time to find solutions to everyday struggles. We are the ones who try to speed things up, for our children. So let us not be so quick to solve our child’s problems for them. A bit of a struggle will only do them good.

Children need to be given opportunities to develop responsibility and to feel valuable. They need to learn necessary life skills. They need us to give them regular chores and duties and hold them accountable for talking up and performing such duties. Of course, they will end up in showing power struggles. But we should not give in. If so done, the children will grow up to be irresponsible, which is heart breaking to the parent and tragic to the child.

All we have to plan is to engage them in age-appropriate activities that will teach them learn life skills, become a valuable member of the family and society. These duties will help them help and serve each other in the family, preparing them to take care of themselves and go out and serve society. Where we don’t want to over indulge, our children with their wants, we should only overindulge them with our love – real love – that shapes and molds them into the young men and women they are meant to become. We need to patiently help them develop patience, and with persuasion and persistent, give them age appropriate responsibilities.

In doing so, we will be preparing their hearts and minds to accept and carry out the responsibilities they have to shoulder with a light and an active mind.

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