I recently read an article while browsing my news feed on my phone about how businesses are experiencing Millennials and Gen-Zers as a largely failed parenting experiment. I’ll have to agree with that statement to a certain extent, because what this ultimately means is that in our society people are being raised, in psychology, to a point where it is difficult to talk to people about responsibility and accountability because people are being told how amazing they are in all aspects of their lives. We see it with today’s politicians and many younger hires at companies. And in business when performance does not meet the standards, then it is up to a great leader to deliver a hard coaching message (if that manager is capable).
So how does this tie into this platform? Well, it’s about how we raise our kids. We all want the best for them, and one thing in which we as a society need to turn time back on is to utilize one single technique that will guide them and help them grow into responsible adults.
When you boil this down, it’s all about helping them understand that – decisions have consequences.
Nurturing responsible teens and adults
If you cognitively educate your child to the point in they recognize that every decision they make has a consequence – regardless of good or bad, you instill a sense of responsibility. Today, no matter where or to whom you look, through social media, through “progressive” principles, at large we are taught that we as individuals matter and everything is great. Responsibility can be dusted off elsewhere. However, it is extremely critical to grasp the concept from a young age, and this is the responsibility of parents.
We give our children chores, and we live by example, so certain chores they see us do, and at times we do them together. However, there are times when they are not thrilled about a certain chore, like when my wife, or I say “Please, go clean your room.”
Sometimes the response is, “We do not want to.”
Our response is, “okay.”
They then say “So we can go do this or that”, or sometimes they even say “What do you mean by okay?”
Our response as parents is tied to a contingency or consequence, and we let them calmly know by saying, “You need to accept the consequence of not cleaning your guys’ room. It’s completely okay if you do not want to, however, there is no TV time until it’s done.” (They normally get ca. 30 min a day to enjoy electronics – playing on the tablet or TV).
Through our teaching of what specific actions mean, they understand and, not to our surprise, clean their rooms, sometimes slower and often times – sonic the hedgehog style.
Stick to what you say
As parents, we want the best for our children, and we do not want to make their lives difficult, however, in my personal perspective that is where we are failing as a society, generally speaking. We may teach our kids to say please or thank you or what is right and what is wrong, like what they should do before crossing a street, however, we are failing at teaching them fundamentals to grow into strong individuals, and one of those fundamentals is that decisions have consequences, and as a parent, if you set consequences you must follow through on your promises (like with all things in life).
When we tell our kids a certain consequence, like no TV, or no ice cream after dinner, we stick to it. It’s not to be mean as a parent or then come across as big-hearted by saying it’s okay. Because it’s not. However, it helps them understand and grasp the weight of their decisions. And the earlier they understand this, the better off they’ll be later to deal with other relationships in school or business.
Kids are smart, no matter what age. They grasp language and concepts quicker than many adults think. Our children know that certain chores are now part of the process in our day to day, and when certain things are asked of them, they don’t hesitate to act because the consequences are too important to give up – like watching their favorite show. However, they also know that our word is not set in stone. And that is also important to teach them to think, meaning they sometimes ask us why we want it done that way, or they suggest an alternative. That is critical thinking. Something we have been patiently teaching them, especially over the last year.
Teaching children about consequences will have drastic effects the older they get. Whether they then need to decide about studying for tests or doing homework, they will recognize that actions or inaction have a consequence they need to live with.
Broadening the possibilities
Teaching them this basic fundamental concept through chores, through sticking to what you say will be an act of their consequence, is important because it also teaches the correlation that their decisions will have consequences in that it will create or limit certain options available to them throughout life. A simple example is getting decent grades in school opens up the possibility to further educate yourself through attending university, which opens up other doors later on in life when entering the workforce. Better job possibilities lead to more options on where you can live and the lifestyle you can enjoy.
In my personal opinion, there are many who do not learn this lesson early on in life. I explicitly remember an individual I began coaching who came from a very wealthy background. One in which he never had to face any type of consequence for his decisions. This person was limiting their options because through other decisions they took in life, the family was apparently no longer “taking care” of him – in other words, relationships and connections. Now he was frustrated because he did not get what he thought he deserved for relative little input. Ultimately, he was delusional and acting very entitled, however, I was fortunate enough to make contact and through our discussions, open and honestly, through asking many questions, perhaps spur some thought. After a few months of back and forth sessions, he left the company on his own terms, informing me that he planned to go back to school. The rest I am not aware of.
This goes to show, that consequences are always there. Regardless of status, money, etc.
It is never too late to teach children anything. Whether you already have a teen or are still grasping how to raise your young 2-year-old. If you want your kids to be able to deal with what life throws at them, to help them create options that will help them understand how to create a happy and productive life, then teaching them early on that their decisions have consequences is important. The same is true for gratification. Today’s society is “here and now because I say so.” Learning to delay gratification by teaching them that they need to earn the right for the type of life they would like to lead through the decisions they make is the way to go.
Your children will be ever thankful that you taught them this concept, and society will later be better for it. It may be painful as a parent in the moment to deny them something you would love to see them have, but teaching this life lesson will go a long way!