It’s every dad’s dream when they have their first child is to teach them something they are good at. Working with your hands is becoming a thing of the past in most households but it is very important for their future as independent adults and important for learning to work together as a family. First, in order to teach your children independence, let’s take a look at some things that might make your children become helpless adults. More and more adults are recognizing the signs of entitlement in their kids. We see kids who won’t lift a finger to help out, who think the world revolves around them, who rarely show gratitude or empathy and who demand more..more…more! Entitlement or laziness is sown over the years in a million little parenting decisions–all made in the name of love. Sometimes a few tweaks in parenting styles can make all the difference. Below are some of the most common entitlement-prone parenting styles, as well as a few proven fixes:
- Keeping them happy at all costs- This might be you if: You’d rather let your kids dominate your phone during errands or pulling strings with teachers and coaches than face a tantrum. When we drop everything to help our kids avoid unhappiness or disappointment, we teach them that their happiness is top priority. Then when they get into this routine if they face life’s setbacks like not getting something they want they are unable to cope. Help your children early on to develop strategies for overcoming difficulties large and small. The fix: Kids are entitled to your love and undivided attention every day. Spend 10 minutes a day individually with each child, on their terms, doing whatever they want to do during that time. Commit to it on a daily basis and you can watch as entitled behaviors melt away. Your kids will stop trying to get your attention in negative ways (like tantrums and negotiating) when they know they’ll get it in positive ways.
- Being an enabler- This might be you if: your children expect you to clean up after their mess. The start of this is small because when they are newborns they can’t do anything and so you get in the habit of doing everything. As they get older parents are already in the habit of doing everything themselves so they have a hard time letting go because apart of them doesn’t want their kid to grow up or they just feel it will get done faster if they do it. As your child goes through each stage of life it is important to let them become a little more independent each time. Little things like picking up after themselves, helping out with chores or participating in cooking, even making them eat things they don’t like because that is what everyone else is having can go a long way in not enabling them. Fix: Setting ground rules for yourself is very important to not enable your child. Telling them they are really growing up and old enough now to do things on their own is also very good. Be sure to set them up for success by helping them understand it’s the next stage of their life, just like school and going to the next grade level. Giving them chores on weekly basis will also help build responsibility. Like all children they will throw a fit on not wanting to do it but not give in to this behavior will ensure that eventually, they will just do it instead of trying to get out of it. Remember to follow through on your ground rules.
- Being the rescuer- This might be you if: your child can’t remember things like homework, permission, slips, lunch unless you remind them every time. You’ve had the sense for a long time that your kids could remember their lunches by themselves but never seem to and feel entitled to your personal delivery service when they forget. The fix: Anyone can make a mistake from time to time but they will only learn if they get in the habit of remembering what they need. Tell your kids in advance that you’ll no longer be rescuing them. Be clear about your expectations, and help them brainstorm strategies to keep track of their responsibilities.
- Being the indulger- This might be you if: your child demands to drink a soda with every meal and wins or your toddler throws a temper tantrum unless they have your phone to play with. It’s not wrong to let kids experience life’s little pleasures, but it’s our job to set the appropriate limits we know are best. Entitled kids are known for thinking of themselves as above the rules, and deserving the best of what life has to offer. We can change this mindset by sticking with the limits we set and ignoring the protests and negotiations. The Fix: By providing plenty of opportunities for kids to wield age-appropriate control over their own lives will give them a sense of power over positive things such as eating healthy, doing their homework and budgeting. When they have this control over some aspects of their lives they will less likely pitch a fit when we have to say no or enforce limits on other areas that are more for adults, like dating or curfews.
- Being over the top- This might be you if: You go far out of your way to make sure your kids have the best childhoods possible. Tons of presents at holidays, designer bedrooms and picture-perfect outfits are all great things but kids don’t need them. If they always experience the best of what life has to offer when they are young, then they feel entitled to it as they grow older. Cutting back our over-the-top tendencies will make for happier, more contented children down the road. The Fix: Take pleasure in the little things by expressing gratitude for what you do have instead of focusing on what you want. In fact, research shows that grateful people are happier overall. Involve your kids, and create daily or weekly gratitude rituals to help them appreciate what’s most important in their lives.
Now that we have covered techniques for good parenting styles, getting your children involved in helping fix little house issues will be a blast. They will get to bond with you and learn how to take care of their own home when they are older. Kids love to feel needed. They like to know that although they are a bit smaller than mom and dad, they can still help out around the house. Giving a child a hammer and some nails to bang into a scrap piece of wood is good training and it helps kids know that they really made a difference. You can have them help you with a few repair jobs around the house that will make them feel valuable.
Oil Hinges- Open a door and point out the squeaky noise to the child. Now when I was a kid the best thing to use was a can of WD40 to get rid of the squeak but over the years I have found that a silicone base of lubricant works way better. Show your kid how to make the noise stop by squirting a few drops inside the hinge. Make sure to also mention the harmful aspects of the job so they always know the do’s and don’t.
Tighten Handles- Grab a Phillips screwdriver and a flathead to show your kid the difference between the two. Then show them how to tighten the screws to keep the handle from wiggling.
Loose Towel Rack- If towel racks are loose, after teaching your child to tighten handles they can tighten the racks.
Scuff Marks on Linoleum- There are a few techniques you use to teach your kid how to get scuff marks off the floor. Toothpaste with a washcloth, a pencil eraser or the nifty Mr. Clean dry eraser works wonders. Show them all of them because it will teach them how to think outside the box in situations. With toothpaste dab some on the scuff mark and use the cloth or eraser to rub it. Then show them the easier method of buying a Mr. Clean dry eraser and wetting it down then rubbing the mark until it’s gone. Note: This is also good if they decide that their wall is a canvas, you can teach them to clean up their own mess by scrubbing the wall until it’s gone. If it is permanent then the next job will come in handy for them.
Painting- This is a good job to teach children early on because everyone has to paint something or other in their lifetime. Grab a small paint brush, painter’s tape, and a plastic Tupperware to give them some paint to start out with. First, show them the steps to painting and why we do this. You can always start with little touch-up jobs with the younger ones and work up to bigger projects. Giving your child the opportunity to repair things in the house is a big deal to them. They will feel like they have done something substantial and will likely never have to worry about them wanting to help you with future projects if you make it fun and not a chore.
Some ideas for practicing to get little ones in the habit of hands-on work
- Tools of their own- You can buy reasonably priced kid-size tools. A toolbox I like is the “Grip” nine-piece children’s Toolkit which costs about $35 and is available on kids toolbox. A cordless driver though made for adults is a fun tool for them to learn to use, the Skil iXO and black & decker L13100 cordless drivers are perfect for little hands. It’s about $30. A low-temp hot-glue gun is safe to start learning to glue things together. A hand drill works easily without pinching fingers. Put a piece of wood into a vise and have them practice making holes. The Fiskars craft drill comes with four bits and is a great start for only $16 fiskars craft drill. A keyhole saw strengthens young kids’ hands and is sized for better control. The handy saw set comes with fine and coarse tooth blades for about $7 at forsmallhands.com
- Learning to hammer- To a kid who isn’t quite ready to drive nails, nothing feels better than whap, crackle, and pop. Supply a kid-size hammer or a rubber mallet and show them how to hammer bubble wrap. After they master this you can upgrade to a nail and scrap wood, hammer the nails in half way and let them finish the job. Soon they will be helping you build your next project.
- Driving screws- This is fun and a higher level of experience for kids. Put some screws in a scrap of drywall and let the kids screw them in with a cordless screwdriver or hand-held screwdriver. Drywall is a lot easier than wood, once they have that down upgrade to a block of wood half drilled. They will feel so accomplished once they get it down.
- How to use a wrench- This is another great beginner tool. Put different size bolts on boards and then let your kid use wrenches to attach color-coordinated nuts to each one.
- Sawing- This is a skilled technique and can also help with preciseness. Clamp some foam core to a workbench and let the kid saw strips. Foam core is easier to than wood and then upgrade when they are ready.
Kids are easily frustrated so be careful not to go too fast for them. Let kids handle the tool to see how it works and feel. Let them get a sense of accomplishment with it before moving on to another one. Remember perfection is not the goal, enjoying the work is the most important lesson learned. Another thing you can do is sign up at Home-depot where they have a workshop each month learning a new project. They are free and something that will help you bond with your children.
Feel free to contact us here at Retro Pro Kitchen and Bath and we would be happy to answer any questions you may have!
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