Well, it's official. My third son officially told me he hates me for the first time this week. I walked past a gelato shop without giving into his tantrum for a cone. An elderly couple happened to be walking by us just at the moment I was explaining why we don't have treats on school days. They stopped to tell me that I was the best parent they had seen that day. My son wasn't exactly on board with that statement.
The youngest generation has been called the rudest, laziest and most entitled children in history. There are multiple stories published daily about rotten kids that can shake even the most seasoned parent to the core. I hate to break it to you, but it's not the kids' fault...it is the parents. Parenting on the daily is damn hard work, I get it. We all want to be the cool mom sometimes, but don't give up! They may think you're horrible now and tell you they hate you, but I promise they will thank you later in life. Below are the ways that I make my kids hate me, and I am totally okay with that.
Save treats for the weekend
I don't give my children sweets every day, but rather save them for special occasions. If you allow your child to indulge whenever they feel the urge, they won't appreciate the gesture when someone offers them a sweet gift or reward. Not to mention the dentist and doctor trips that will result from the over-indulgence! Use it as an opportunity to instill a sense of restraint from a young age.
Make them do difficult things
We all know it by now, but life is not easy. Don't automatically step in to take over when things get hard for your kids. This can be as simple as putting a block on top of a teetering tower or as complicated as filling out college applications on their behalf. Nothing boosts confidence like persisting and accomplishing a task.
Don't always buy the latest and greatest as soon as it comes out
Teach your children to appreciate the things they have. Living as an eco-conscious citizen, we should think about what happens with our waste. Is their iPhone 5 still functional? Then, no need to upgrade to the 6 yet. Gratitude for what you have is one of the most valuable life lessons a parent can teach.
Let your child experience loss
If your child forgets to complete a homework assignment, let them take the lower grade or make them work out extra credit with their teacher himself. If your child breaks a toy, don't replace it. They'll learn a valuable lesson about taking care of their things.
Buy your child a watch and an alarm clock
Your child will be immensely better off if she learns the responsibility of time management. You won't always be there to remind them to turn off the iPad and get ready to go.
Make your kids go to bed at a reasonable time
I'm sure I'm not the only one who hears how important a good night's sleep is relative to a child's success. Be a parent and put your kid to bed...at an appropriate time.
Make them pay for their own stuff
"If you want something, you have to pay for it" has become my new mantra because that is the way the world works. I'm not planning on supporting my children after they graduate from college, so I'm teaching them to save and spend wisely now. You should too.
Don't pull strings
Some kids grow up to a very rude awakening at their first job when they realize the rules actually do apply to them. They need to arrive on time, do what their boss asks of them and (shocker!) do things they don't really like to do. Even if you don't like your child's teacher or class partner, do not make a stink or pull strings to get their preference. You are robbing your child of learning to make the best of a challenging situation. Life is full of them and your kids are better off when they know how to navigate rocky terrain.
Limit screen time
Set an amount of time for television and devices and stick to it. It is tough--trust me, I know. I even purchased a separate modem for my son that turns off on a timer so I know for sure we stick to the set screen time each day. It also reiterates time management, so it's a win-win.
Mind their manners
Treating other humans with respect and dignity is something that even small children can learn. By making politeness and self-awareness a habit, you will do your kids a huge favor in the future.
Make them apologize
Don't bush rudeness, bullying or dishonesty under the rug. If you mess up, set the example and apologize too.
Make them work for free
Whether it's tutoring younger children and volunteering in your local community, make service a part of your child's life. It forces them to look outside of their own bubble and realize other people has needs as well, often times much greater than their own.
Putting up boundaries and enforcing them is incredibly important, but don't forget to praise and reward your children for their positive behavior. Also, be sure they know that you love them. With a little luck and diligence, your kids can help steer their generation down the path of promise.
What about you? Are there any other boundaries you like to enforce? Share in the comments below.
Photo courtesy of Michelle Muller-Marinis
This piece was originally published by Michelle Muller-Marinis on Mommy Nearest. Michelle is the co-founder of Little Spoon Organic and a NYC mom of three boys, Pearce, Rylan and Brandt. You can follow Michelle on Twitter @greenmichellem , Facebook and Instagram.