Children aren’t always the wisest little critters.
Perhaps that’s why they are given parents.
But some children are getting ahead of their parents, and a few parents seem to have gone underground.
Anyone would intervene if a two-year-old fell into a pool, but what of the less obvious — children who are bored or who want to be entertained?
Children whose wants exceed their needs. Normal kids.
Any child ‘worth his salt’ will test the boundaries, but at the fence a child needs to find adults — teachers, parents, and grown-ups willing to uphold a principle or two. Principles that produce happiness.
Understanding is good. Children need water, food, shelter and love. But we are in an epidemic of wants by the bored.
A simple ‘no’ can start a hissy-fit, and we pay for iPhones while the lawn climbs our window-sills.
Have we become an iPad Club for kids who can’t occupy themselves?
Long ago, mom would brandish a bit of work, and the boredom would be magically replaced by thinking, productivity and, amazingly — happiness.
Once upon a time, children received rewards for good behaviour. But rewards have now become bribes.
“If you are good, I will give you candy, etc.” If … and if, and if. And we can no longer afford the rewards.
Reward and punishment are more suited to animal training than child-rearing.
Our kids are smarter and wiser than Pavlov’s dogs.
Why are we so afraid to let them work?
“Need some money? I understand. How do you plan on doing that?”
Are we thinking instead of teaching our children to?
We want our children to be happy, happy, happy! So why not give them what they want, feed them what they like, and coddle them?
Served alone, understanding offers meltdowns and excuses; it is not enough. I know of no world where everything goes the way we want.
Children are prepared for reality with teaching, not toleration; they need to conquer challenges and harness their feelings so they’ll know they can. Continuous rescues produce nothing but helpless, unhappy whining.
So, what are these kids being taught?
A little crawler’s mother always puts the toy where he can reach it.
A school-age child is never allowed to fail.
A grown-up isn’t held accountable.
And, to be really wicked, what about the student who sits and texts in the back of a classroom, but is marked present anyway?
“What are we teaching?”
What is missing is not happiness — it is character.
There is a relationship between goodness and being happy.
Paul Waddell claims we can’t be happy unless we are good. Candy doesn’t last as long as character.
Said one mother to her son, “My job is not to make you happy. My job is to make you good, then you will be happy.”
Self-discipline or willfulness — choose one for happiness.
Maurice Maeterlinck said it best, “An act of goodness is of itself an act of happiness.” Happiness comes and goes, but goodness is its own reward.
The good old days start now.
Jane Austen knew.
“Till I have your disposition, your goodness, I never can have your happiness.” It’s time to ask ourselves, “What are we teaching?” LOL@wltribune.com.
Rita Corbett is a freelance columnist with the Tribune/Weekend Advisor.