Have kids today lost their toughness? Their stick-to-it-ness? In essence, are kids lacking GRIT?
Overwhelming, most educators and parents agree: Many more kids are prone to giving up when things get tough. True initiative is squashed; as difficult looking tasks are abandoned before any real effort.
Raising self-consumed kids, who want the easy path.
Many more kids seem to want the easy path. They want more, with less effort. They expect expensive toys, but no chores. They expect to be recording stars, without ever practicing their instruments. They want to start on the team, but never break a sweat.
Can this attitude of getting everything I want without effort really pay off for them? Of course not. The world is not wired to respond to skill, intellect or talent…that refuses to work hard.
Effort is what is needed. Effort is required to hone a skill, to sharpen intellect and refine talent. But somehow, we have fallen into a culture that tend to (not always of course) teach kids that the easy path is the preferred path. In reality, there are few long term rewards on this path.
To compound this problem, many children are more SELF-focused, rather than family or community focus. While self-concern is inevitably part of our teenage development, the lack of balance and obsession with ‘self’ over everything else is increasingly worrisome. This self-consumption is about a ‘me’ obsessed attitude. Kids often lack the deep character values that build happiness, compassion and gratitude.
How do we feed into this?
We listen to fantastical stories over and over.
For many kids, they engage in fantasy day in and day out. They talk about being the next superstar the VOICE, and can’t read music. They don’t practice. They won’t work.
But yet, mom and dad listen. Not once or twice…but every day…they listen.
Perhaps there is a fear of hurting their feelings if we don’t listen. Perhaps we don’t want to squash their dreams. Perhaps a part of us wants to believe it. Either way, we keep listening. And thus by default, endorsing the fantasy.
Our kids ask and we give.
Everyone has an IPhone, so we give them an IPhone. They have a tantrum, throw the phone against the wall. We get them a new one. They suddenly have a new plan for the day, so we instantly drop everything, change our plans and make their plans happen. They keep forgetting their shoes for lacrosse, and we bring them every day.
You can see how habitual these habits become. It all looks innocent initially. In fact, as the tendencies grow in our society, we can always justify it. But we must see what is happening. We must begin to see what we are creating.
Do you find that you simply ask, and the world provides what you ask for? I doubt it.
We must give our children a better understanding of how to create happiness and success in life.
The Antidote: Nurture Kids with GRIT and Heart
We must learn better skills at understanding when to say yes, and when to say no. We must learn that muscle is only built effort, not with a talk about effort. We must learn that making things easy for our kids WILL predictably make life hard for them.
In the next couple weeks, I will discuss how to develop these tools, with a focus on GRIT and heart. We’ll learn about raising kids with GRIT, which contains the power of resilience, persistence and passion. No more quitting or cheating to find the easy path, but rather teaching kids the value of ‘giving it your all’ in order to reap the deep rewards of life. If you have time on the evening of Tuesday May 3rd, I will be offering a free talk at Maple Avenue Middle School in Saratoga on raising kids with GRIT and Heart. In the meantime, please follow me on Twitter and Facebook.