We all want the best for our children, and want to them to have everything they could ever wish for. But giving them everything they need, or want, immediately can have devastating consequences for them long term.
When we meet our children’s demands 100% of the time, we actually create narcissistic kids, that is, they think they are more important than anyone else. Making children wait for what they want or need is important for developing skills necessary for a well-adjusted and stable life.
Small children are naturally selfish. This is a normal part of development in which they work to get their needs met and can’t understand other people’s needs and desires. Then as teenagers, kids are still typically self-centred as they struggle for independence. Self-centredness should gradually decline as children develop healthy levels of self-esteem and know that they are worthy of love.
The older children get, the longer they should be able to wait before a need is met, and the more responsibility you can give them over fulfilling their own need. For example, children can wash their own clothes themselves (or be heavily involved). Involve them in the washing process from beginning to end. Build up their involvement gradually as they get older, so that by the time they are 12, they can take care of the whole washing, drying, ironing and hanging process themselves.
For younger children, involving them in setting the table, clearing the table and loading the dishwasher has them contributing positively to family life, but also teaches them that with the positive experience of being fed, there comes work and responsibility that they can and should be a part of too.
By increasing the responsibility your children have for meeting their own needs, you are instilling the important value, esteem and worthiness that crushes narcissistic tendencies. Battling through the short-term difficulties of setting high expectations and standard routines will be rewarded in the long-run, as you create independent and thoughtful members of society.
Mrs Hayley Burns / JS Learning Support Coordinator