Ritanny Chinny J.

090414-frugality-kids-hmed.grid-6x2I want to tell us about an essential vitamin you’ve probably never heard of. If you’re a parent, guardian or plan to be one, it might be more important to your child’s growth than all other vitamins combined. And only you, a parent or guardian can provide the required dosage. I believe every adult remembers the Bible verse that enjoins us to teach our children the way they should go, so that when they grow they shall never depart from it. It’s an eye popping fact that is often ignored by many. High social status or financial stability is a good enough reason for a parent to oblige a child everything that he/she demands for. Refusing to grant these requests, when the need arises does not mean meanness or wickedness on the part of the parent or guardian. Strictness or being firm on refusing a child some demands is required in parenting. I know for a fact that in the near future the kids would understand, thank and appreciate you for that.

Since I have gotten your attention, let’s talk! As a child growing up, when I misbehave, if I screwed up my parents would talk to me, and other times, they did spank me. It’s called ‘serving the dish according to merit’. In some cases, some parents are quick to spank their kids and wards where all they need is talking to the child and correcting him/her. This is wrong. Children are HUMAN BEINGS, not ANIMALS.  Physical punishment should be the last resort, not the first; and MUST be administered with love not rage that leave scars on the growing skin . Strike a balance and serve each dish according to its requirements. These children are very intelligent and they are getting wiser daily so talk with them but don’t let them play you!

What is this ‘Vitamin N’? It’s the word “NO”. For instance, if your child sees candies stacked on a supermarket shelf and starts screaming and pointing at them and you, the parent, give her a piece of candy to shut her up, you are not doing your job. THEY MUST NOT HAVE ALL THAT THEY SEE! Instead, say NO very calmly and tell her that you will get them for her some other time or explain to them that they to save the money or that it’s not good for their teeth… come up with something or better still, just say “NO, because I don’t think you should.” You mustn’t explain yourself. In the context of the tale, has anyone seen how clotted so many people’s houses are these day?  You know of the many wants of toys and sweets children have? It’s killing them and YOU are not helping either! It’s a social problem. More and more children are suffering from Vitamin N deficiency. And they, their parents, and our entire culture are paying the price.

Let me illustrate further with a story that’s quite typical. A father, I’ll call him Bill, gave his son, aged five, pretty much everything the little boy asked for. Like most parents, Bill wanted more than anything for his son to be happy. But he wasn’t. Instead he was petulant, moody, and often sullen. He was also having problems getting along with other children. In addition, he was very demanding and rarely ever expressed any appreciation, let alone gratitude, for all the things Bill and his wife were giving him. Was his son depressed, Bill wanted to know? Did he need therapy? His son, I told him, was suffering the predictable ill effects of being over-indulged. What he needed was a healthy and steady dose of Vitamin N.

When the point of diminishing returns is passed (and it’s passed fairly early on), the receiving of things begins to generate nothing but want for more things. One terrible effect of this is that our children are becoming accustomed to a material standard that’s out of kilter with what they can ever hope to achieve as adults. Consider also that many, if not most, children attain this level of affluence not by working, sacrificing, or doing their best, but by whining, demanding, and manipulating.

The line between needs and wants is, indeed, a very blurred one yet must be maintained. Speaking from experience as a family psychologist, I am not against giving a child a treat as at when due; because there’s also an issue when we don’t live up to acknowledge and celebrate our children. So, being less than properly indulged means these kids are also going to be less grateful. To them, it’s “why should I work if all I work for will be taken from me?” So in the process of inflating their material expectations, we also teach children that something can be had for next to nothing. Not only is that a falsehood, it’s also one of the most dangerous, destructive attitudes a person can acquire.

Be very careful with lobbying with your child; instead of teaching your kid to accept the idea that they won’t get what they want all of the time, you teach them that they can get anything through hard work. This is a very vague explanation but I’m sure you’ll understand. A kid is a blank slate, our duties as parents is to embed what is essential and uproot the junks through good discipline and great role modelling. I hate helicopter parents; these are sets of parents who are very passive and wouldn’t agree with the concept of good parenting, but instead, see their children as friends and are scared of giving the N Vitamin because they don’t want to fallout with them. I weep for these parents because the end goal will box them in!

This may go a long way toward explaining why the mental health of children in the 1950s – when kids got a lot less — was significantly better than the mental health of today’s kids. Since the ‘50s, and especially in the last few decades, as indulgence has become the parenting norm, the rates of child and teen depression have skyrocketed.

Children who grow up believing in the something-for-nothing fairy tale are likely to become emotionally stunted, self-centred adults. Then, when they themselves become parents, they’re likely to overdose their children with material things – the piles of toys, games and gadgets – one finds scattered around most households. In that way, over indulgence, a deficiency of Vitamin N, becomes an inherited disease, an addiction passed from one generation to the next.

This also explains why children who get too much of what they want rarely take proper care of anything they have. Why should they? After all, experience tells them that more is always on the way. I think another good method is rewarding their wants by having them complete chores. Not just a chore that can be finished in a day but rather in a week or even month. Example: A child asks ‘Hey (parental figure) can I get a (insert popular gaming machine/video game/toy item)?” Respond with the proposal, “Well if you (insert task/chore) for the next (insert reasonable time frame of days or weeks) then I’ll buy you (insert item of want).’ I think this’ll help condition them on how the world works in the working environment. Work for “X” amount of days and receive rewards for said work. Not only that,  it makes them feel accomplished once they receive said reward after doing such work.

Children deserve better. They deserve to have parents attend to their needs for protection, affection, and direction. Beyond that, they deserve to hear their parents say “NO” far more often than “YES” when it comes to their whimsical desires. They deserve to learn the value of constructive, creative effort as opposed to the value of effort expended whining, lying on the floor kicking and screaming, or playing one parent against the other. They deserve to learn that work is the only truly fulfilling way of getting anything of value in life, and that the harder they work, the more ultimately fulfilling the outcome.

imagesIn the process of trying to protect children from frustration, parents have turned reality upside down. A child raised in this Topsy-turvy fashion may not have the skills needed to stand on his or her own two feet when the time comes to do so. Here’s a simple rule: Turn your children’s world right-side up by giving them all of what they truly need, but no more than 25 percent of what they simply want. I call this the “Principle of Benign Deprivation.”

When all is said and done, the most character-building two-letter word in the English language is NO. Vitamin N is very essential because not even the society can manage what its deficiency will spring forth in the generations to come. Plan well and spend more time with your children. Bond with them and build trust.  The benefit of your time gives them memories for a lifetime which will anchor them through storms of life like bulling, low self-esteem and the rest. Stop using money to buy your way out – thinking that showering them with gifts will make up for those times you are absent. #JustWakeUp.

Getty_9_year_old_boy_father_doing_dishes_LARGE_HeroImages-56829cbc3df78ccc15bf2b8bDispense it frequently. You’ll be happier in the long run, and so will your child because it an unfortunate state in the first world where almost everything is considered “child abuse”; where to give your children the requires amount of Vitamin N could lead to the Government hauling your kids away and you’ll be charged with Child Negligence and the children making a joke of their parent by turning to societal nuisance with all sorts of anti-social behaviour.