Founder/Registered Psychologist of The Counselling Place
As we become successful in life, one struggle we have as parents is how to help our children to be grounded when they have so much. As parents, we want to give the best to our kids. It is not wrong. But, while we don’t want them to suffer, we also don’t want them to be spoiled brats or grow up feeling entitled. When should we intervene ourselves? When is it time for a Psychologist or Counsellor to step in?
Here are some quick tips if you want to help your child yourself:
It is concerning when I see parents struggling to come up with rewards to act as external motivator in parenting. “Nothing can be a reward because they have everything!” they laughed. It is commendable that we provide for our children so that they are not left wanting. However, having “everything” is problematic as it does not teach them the process of obtaining or acquiring, nor help them develop the value and life skill of delayed gratification. I know it is not easy to do, but can we hold out/off some things that we give to our children: for special occasion, for rewards, for them to work towards, for them to learn to wait.
2. Learn the Value of Money
Start when your kids are young. Explain how money works – money does not spit out of ATM. Build your child's money skills by giving them a small allowance, let them do some spending. If your child is old enough, offer ways to them to earn money. Help them make the link between the value of things they want to their allowances (e.g., the Xbox will cost X weeks of your allowance or X time of putting away your toys).
3. Learn What is More Important Than Money (and things)
What is it that you value more than money (and things)? Parents are more effective and clear when they know what they value for themselves and how those values influence what they want for their kids. If you value charity and giving, get them involves in charity work. Remind them that it’s more important to be a good, kind person than to have a trendy bag, pair of shoes or pencil case.
4. Expose Them to the Real World
Take them out of their bubbles. Use public transport, interact with others, etc. Meeting all sorts of different people, situations, and environments help them learn what how others live.
5. Give First before Receiving
Teach your children if they want to make room for new things, they must take the time to go through what they have and give away what they don’t use. A good rule of thumb is if they haven’t played with it or worn it in a few months, pass it on!
6. Be Grateful
Teach your kids to be appreciative of what they have. Do that by saying “Thank You” to the person who had given it to them and by taking good care of what they have. Get them into the habits of reflecting on their day and giving thanks.
Children learn from not what you teach or preach but what you do. What would your kids observe from your speech, actions, and behaviours? Are you concern with or worrying about material things and money? How do you treat the helper, wait staff, etc.?
If you are facing challenges in putting the above tips into action or you need support to help change your parenting style or your child’s behaviour, it’s time for you to consider getting professional help. How can the Psychologist or counsellor support you? The Psychologist or Counsellor can:
- work with you (and your partner) to improve the way you parent, identify your values and help you develop strategies to impart them to your kids. They can highlight your blind spots. They can also make the link between why your child is behaving and what you are or not doing.
- work directly with your child to make changes and interventions to their attitude, thought pattern, and behaviours. Psychologists or Counsellors are trained with techniques to help children open up and speak up. Therefore, your child may be more willing to share what’s going on with them with the Psychologist or Counsellor, things that they may not be willing to share with you the Parent.
- work with you as a family to facilitate communicate, negotiate difficult agreements, and help you bond as a family.
There is no such thing as too early or too late for you to seek counselling help and support. Problems or behaviours does not need to get “serious enough” for you to come to counselling or see a Psychologist or Counsellor. It is often good to get in early so that issues get addressed quickly. On the other hand, it’s never too late for you, your child, and your family to get help. Counselling during a family crisis would involve stabilizing the situation first and then the Psychologist or Counsellor will work with the different family members and the family as a whole to deal with the underlying issues and to resolve them.
Do have a go at helping your child stay grounded with the tips we’ve suggested. If you run into trouble, or you feel your child will be more open to hearing from a neutral third party, don’t hesitate to get counselling help!