Most people are on a quest for happiness. We want to be happy, and we want our children to be happy. As a result, to hopefully ensure the happiness of their children, many parents give them things. Before I go any further, let me clearly state that the following point is NOT to stop giving items to our children; it is to point out how HAPPINESS is EARNED, not GIVEN.
Unfortunately, many young people today are learning to have an “entitlement” mentality rather than a happiness mentality. For example, many teachers give kindergarten and early grade students stickers or other items for doing what the teacher requests. Parents also bribe youngsters by saying something like, “If you do this, then you will get….” You can learn more about extrinsic motivation (rewards) versus intrinsic motivation (doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do) by reviewing the Levels of Development.
Without realizing it, the adults engaging in these practices are setting up a mindset of self-talk in children that goes like this: “If I do what you want, what will I get?” After continually being given things, the young person now feels entitled. And if the reward is not forthcoming, anger may arise. Anger is antithetical to happiness.
In the past, people grew up learning to put forth effort in what they did. Whatever they received was a direct result of their efforts. The result was satisfaction. In short, people earned their happiness.
It may be that future generations with an “entitlement” mentality will not be as happy as former generations.
Tip: If you want to help develop the happiness generation, don’t do things for young people that they can do for themselves. If you do, you are depriving them of an opportunity for putting forth effort — and the satisfaction that comes as a result.
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