I can only imagine the work it takes to balance out the life of a baby royal, ensuring that an overwhelming sense of entitlement doesn’t permeate the precarious childhood of the most watched children in Britain. My son thinks it’s my job to pick up his dirty socks, and that little stinker is far from being royalty. Cute? Yes. An heir to the throne, born with his own crew of caretakers in waiting? No.
I can’t imagine that Prince William and Kate Middleton will read my blog all the way from the middle of the Heartland. But for those parents stateside, here are some tips to keep Moody Monarchs and Sovereign Sassies at bay with your own children.
Encourage Independence and Self-Sufficiency
We love our children and want what’s best for them. But in some guilt-ridden error of judgment, it often means that to show our love, we have to cut up their food for them until they are 12 years old and dutifully clean their rooms until they graduate high school. It somehow gives us a sense of belonging when we fulfill our parental duties to the fullest and beyond. When carried to this extreme, however, it can create an expectation for children that adults will just do stuff for them and discourage the development of their self-sufficiency. That is not how the world works. To counter this potential pitfall, have children try doing a task on their own first. If they can’t do it, it’s okay to step in and teach them how while you help. This reinforces the true role of adults in a child’s life… to teach. My responsibility as a parent is to help my son as he develops so one day he will be able to live a healthy life on his own, move out of my house at a reasonable age and never return as a resident, only as a delightful visitor who has a home of his own where he knows how to pick up his own dirty socks.
Teach Gratitude and Generosity
Enough is never enough when you are growing up in a society that constantly and aggressively reminds you that you can have more, bigger and better at mind-numbing speeds. Teaching children to be grateful and giving is not an easy task, but insisting they understand the reality that they have everything they need (and likely more) will help keep the risk of them sliding into snobbery to a minimum. Reinforcing the importance of community service and the value of service learning provided through schools and youth groups is a must. Giving thanks for what we have and generously helping others who might have to go without should feel like a normal part of life, no different than the simple act of holding a door open for a stranger.
Give No Credence to Demands
Do you remember the day when you realized the words “Please” and “Thank you” had gone missing from your home? As the hustle and bustle of a busy family life increases, it’s easy for us to sometimes ease up on our expectations that our children ask for instead of demand things from us. While working on autopilot at your day job, you may not notice an absence of manners. In fact, you might listen to someone only long enough to understand the task you’re supposed to do and then go do it. But your full-time parenting gig requires you to listen for manners and make sure they are in use. Any request from your child that omits the use of “Please, may I…?” or “Could you please…?” is in fact a demand, and you should have zero tolerance for it. Model this behavior when speaking to your spouse. During your special family times, meals and activities, listen for and reinforce with a little moment of praise times when your children remember to use their manners. Remember: Tiny rude children turn into big rude adults who demand to live in your house and have other people pick up their dirty socks.