If you're a parent who wants to raise successful kids, keep reading. Our expert parenting author, Neil McNerney, will explain delay of gratification and share advice on how to teach it to our kids. Let's find out his excellent advice.
Why Delay of Gratification Is Difficult for Kids:
What is one of the hardest things for kids? Delayed gratification. Kids want things right NOW, NOW, NOW! As they grow into their teens, that doesn't go away.
It sometimes even gets worse in the teen years. A kid's focus is on the thing that will make them feel good immediately, whether it's a new piece of technology, something on TV, or something friendship-related.
If we think kids should naturally be able to delay gratification in order to get the "important" things done first, we've got another thing coming! Kids are not wired that way.
If we are honest about ourselves, most of us adults aren't actually wired that way, either. I know I'm not! In fact, delaying gratification is probably one of the hardest things for adults to do as well.
What Is Delaying Gratification About?
Hal Runkel, author of ScreamFree Parenting, shared this definition with me:
"Delaying gratification means giving up what I want right now for what I really want out of life."
What do I really want? I really want to be about 25 pounds slimmer. What do I want right now? A double cheeseburger with fries. And a chocolate shake!
Now, you might be the type of person who has no trouble delaying gratification, but most of us can relate to how hard it is for a kid, after seven hours of school, to be able to say, "I'll do my homework first, then I'll play with my friends." Yes, some kids are naturally like this, but they are few and far between.
What Should We Do?
a. Stay "On Message." Being on message means to keep repeating the theme: "You will get to do the fun stuff after you have done the not-so-fun stuff. If we keep that message consistent, it will eventually have the effect we desire.
b. Gotta Do's vs. Wanna Do's. This was a phrase I heard from a parent. She would tell her kids that there are two types of things we do in life: gotta do's and wanna do's.
Gotta do's are those things we "gotta (got to) do in order to be successful: chores, hygiene, homework, practicing etc.
Wanna do's are those things we "wanna(want to)" do in life: playing, computer time, TV, friends, etc.
Gotta comes first, then Wanna comes after. It's a great, simple way to remind our kids about a big part of success. (From pages 94-95)
I like how Neil used the "First This, Then That Formula." As parents we must stay on message by consistently repeating our statement. Wasn't he clever in explaining the formula with "Gotta do" and "Wanna do?" I agree the "Gotta do" comes first, then "Wanna do."
Pick up Neil McNerney's popular book, Homework: A Parent's Guide to Helping Out without Freaking Out to get the good advice you want.
Available at Amazon.com
Let's APPLAUD Neil McNerney for explaining Delay of Gratification in terms we can tell our kids and, hopefully, motivate them to choose the path to success.
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