By Marli Naidoo
Is it okay to give your child everything he wants? More than ever children are experiencing greater pressure to boast with the latest toy, gadget or phone. Social media and the internet tell children that these products determine their value and will make them more acceptable among their peers. We as parents feel compelled to give our children that which they ask for, as we only want what is best for them. No-one wants their child to be the outcast. Perhaps we sometimes also want to boast a bit about all the things we can buy our children. On top of that we feel responsible for our children’s social success, and think we are doing them an injustice by not seeing to it that they walk around in the best brand-name’s sneakers.
However, the opposite is true. If you are one of those parents who cannot afford all these luxuries, stop feeling guilty. It’s not a good thing for children to be spoilt.
An exaggerated focus on the material can let your children stray from the path of true values and appreciation. It can also result in your child becoming greedy and feeling he is entitled to everything he wants, without having deserved it.
Children have to understand that we work hard to provide for them and that they cannot get everything they want, because they don’t really need it. However, this is a difficult concept to understand while you are still a child. Children have to experience something themselves for it to truly become a reality. They will look at photos of people in countries experiencing famine, but until they have experienced some level of suffering themselves, they will not really be able to understand it. As your child is not a parent who has to provide for a family and work hard for his money, he might possibly get angry when you say no. Explain to your child that someday he can buy everything he desires, if he is willing to work hard for it.
Teach your children self-discipline and perseverance and be implacable in not giving them everything on a platter. We have to help them to combat the powerful influence of our selfish and hedonistic society by putting specific disciplines in place.
Give a fixed amount of pocket money, and stick to it. He can spend everything, or save for something he wants to buy. Talk about prices when shopping, and about products that are value for money. Choose options that require work. Prepare healthy food instead of buying take-aways. Show him you also save for something that you want. In this way your child will learn much more than from a lecture about the value of money.
Children who get everything their hearts desire, don’t appreciate what they get. It is akin to an addiction which no new gift can satisfy. Prizes won easily have little value. You deprive your child of pleasure. Pleasure manifests itself when an intense need is satisfied. If the need didn’t exist, the pleasure cannot be experienced. What a tragedy when a child is never given the opportunity to dream about something, to plan getting it, become excited about the prospect, and sometimes even become desperate enough to work for it. Show your child the excitement of temporary deprivation. It is much more fun, and costs less.
Even if you can afford all the luxuries in the world, and it is easier to just always give your child everything he demands, it is better to say no now and then, and in the process prepare your child for the adult word. Balance is the key. Consider it carefully before saying yes or no, decide with what you would like to spoil him, what he needs, and what is simply unnecessary.
Curious Mind Magazine: https://curiousmindmagazine.com/generation-children/
Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/beyond-blame/201111/my-kids-believe-they-deserve-everything
Dr James Dobson’s Family Talk: http://drjamesdobson.org/mobile-feeds/tools-to-be-a-great-father/mobile-feed-for-dads/2017/12/09/show-your-children-how-less-is-really-more