A few days ago, my three-year-old son wanted something very badly and I told him no. His reaction was simply “okay Daddy” and he went on with his life. His controlled reaction impressed me and I realized that he reacted this way because he had heard the word “no” many times previously in his short life.
Generally speaking, contemporary American society is very indulgent towards children. While the children of many other countries are often struggling for basic needs, American kids have high-tech gear, designer-brand clothes, and-in many cases- the latest entertainment devices. After all, we can afford it, so why not buy it, right?
There’s a certain value to not giving your children what they want to or even not giving them the permission they seek to do a certain activity. If we as parents, indulge the majority of our children’s whims we are setting the unspoken expectation that this trend will continue after they have moved out of the house. Children need to be able to deal with disappointment and hardship-in other words, the realities of life and that ability begins when a parent says a powerful monosyllabic word: no.
You may be able to purchase a cell phone for your child, but the question to ask yourself is why are you doing it? If it’s just to keep up with the social trend, then that’s not good enough. Why spend $20+dollars on a game that’s going to keep them on the couch?
Occasionally telling your child “no”, may make you seem to be the bad guy, but true parenting looks beyond the child’s reaction and see the man/woman that he/she will become. There will be times in life where your child will not have his/her wish granted. Will they be able to cope?
Our role as parents includes developing character as well as showing affection and character can be molded through disappointment. While there are times we should definitely acquiesce to our children’s desires, we must always keep the bigger picture-a capable, well-rounded adult- in mind.
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