Life: A Generation of Winners
Over the last 3-4 years I've read so many posts about the entitlement of children. So many kids believing that they are the best, everything they do is the best, we are all winners, to have want you want right now. It's really sad and I don't buy into it. It upsets me to see and hear kids act and be treated this way because this isn't real life. In live there are winners and losers in every facet of life: sports, school, work, etc. You can't escape the hierarchy of "things." You just can't. Raising children in this manner is irresponsible parenting. How are children suppose to navigate this world on their own when everything they do is clearly perfect and when they want something, as opposed to needing something, just magically appears for them? I think every child needs to experience lost, as well as winning, failure as well as success, being held accountable for something and very importantly patience and of course that we don't all revolve around them. I don't know what is the easiest point to tackle because depending on the child all of the above can and will be a struggle.
I read a really great post recently at wearethtatfamily.com and it really resonated with me and reminded me of many things that my husband and I try do so as not to perpetrate the entitlement cycle. I'm not saying my kids are perfect and that they don't fall into any of my above gripes because they have, they do at times and i'm sure it will continue to happen but reminding them of our feelings towards these attitudes, leading by example and to not feed into the beast is what I do to keep things moving along and hopefully smoothly. I will say my youngest may be the #1 culprit in our house, she's 4 and she's learning.
I'll share a store about my son's 7th birthday party. Up to this point I had been to many kids parties and most of them were are indoor bounce places or similar, group activity/play parties where kids ran around for an hour then had an hour of party room time and that's it. I was tired of it and thought of the parties my mom had for me. A party at home, games, fun and food. We had prizes that defined winners and losers and that got me thinking. We don't see this time of competition defining a winner and loser at kids parties anymore. People are to afraid to define children as winners and losers are more concerned about "everyone is special" and "everyone is a winner" but in that moment and of course, coupled with my nostalgia of light childhood competitionI was going to do it! I was planning a good old fashion birthday party with games & prizes! My husband thought it was genius and we talked to our son who thought it was fun. We planned games and bought cute small prizes for each game station.
We weren't doing consolation prizes for all who participated, because in real life do you get a consolation prize for failing at a challenge? Yes I rode my high horse proudly I was doing this and yes I was likely going to stomp on some 6-7 year old egos in the process. Goody bags are another point of contention for me. I don't get why some are so extravagant. We are celebrating the birthday child isn't that enough? Why does each child feel that they deserve a little gift when leaving the party? I've yet to do goodie bags, well I take it back, I had a party last year at an indoor place and the party place provided goodie bags for each gift. Technically it wasn't me. But I digress. I've written little notes saying Thank you for Celebrating with Us and tied it to a homemade chocolate lollipop, that's enough right? But for this party I did no such thing instead I allowed for kids to grab a handful of candy to tuck into a little cellophane bag that contained a "thanks for coming note, and all this was done on they way out.
We had a basic "guess how many ___ in the jar" & winner took the jar home. But the games were basic: potato sack race, pin the tail on the donkey, bean bag toss and a fastest to eat a doughnut without using your hands. We had 1 winner and 1 winner only. All prizes were wrapped and the winner chose one. After the second game I had a kid come up to me asking where his prize was, I was amazed. I said, "well, zack, i'm sorry but you didn't win that game austin did, right?" he confirmed, so I continued, "before we started the games I explained to the group that it was a race and that the winner would get a prize at the end." he nodded. "well, zack i'm sorry you didn't get the prize but maybe on the next game you'll have your chance. Everyone has an equal chance to win, okay buddy? " he sulked off. Nobody else complained! And the kids all had fun, I even had parent's at school the following week tell me so. I had some friends that were surprised we were actively defining winners and losers but that's life people.
Kids should rightly experience winning by actually winning. And with that they should learn to celebrate in their success as well as being gracious about it. That's just as important as winning. But they should also experience losing and losing with grace and knowing how to congratulate the winner with dignity no matter how upset they may feel. Losing is a life lesson, we learn to think about what may have gone wrong and how we can improve for the future.
My kids are all special and they know this. But I make it a point that they know not one of them outshines the other and that the world does not revolve around them. They all have to wait for things, they know mom is not going to run out and buy them "xyz" because they asked for it. They do chores to earn stars. They earn stars to earn things such as screen time, or money. They know jobs = stuff they may want. Not saying they love it but they know the drill. All I can do is teach and instill. My youngest is still a work in progress, she's highly competitive is not quite a gracious winner or accepting loser but she's 4 and I am doing what I can. The sharing is getting a little better which is all I can ask for at this point.
It's scary to think how many kids are entitled and are enabled to live this way without correction. The future will be a scary place when its run by all these winners!