Hey guys! Welcome back to my series all about traits I think are important for raising good-hearted kids who care & how to make them more fun and engaging. I’m really doing my best to work on my tendency to ramble so here are the links to past articles & let’s get right to the point.
As adults, we know that most, if not all, human relationships are symbiotic & that’s how it should be. We understand the need & value of that system through experience. Young kids however have only ever been taken care of for the most part. Obviously, some level they understand their needs like food & love, & why they need adults to be responsible for them.
Having only ever received the benefit of being cared for, without any real understanding of why it’s important to do the same for others, they may feel some level of entitlement. This doesn’t make them bad or spoiled. It just means that this is something they don’t understand yet. When a child as young as two or three snatches a toy from a sibling or friend & screams many children’s favorite word, “MINE”, that doesn’t mean they aren’t a good kid. In my opinion, it just means their survival skills are working.
Most people have heard the psychological terms id & ego, right? In my understanding, the id is just the part of the mind solely responsible for telling us what we want, that’s all it does. It seems to me like that’s a very important survival skill because it keeps us aware of what our needs are. When are id says we want food or a hug, isn’t that just our mind’s way of reminding us of our need for nutritional sustenance & affection? The ego, on the other hand, is the reasonable part of our minds that learns to recognize that just because we want something doesn’t mean we should have it. Like when we want ice cream but thing in the morning but know that eating breakfast with actual nutritional benefit is probably a better call, that’s our id doing its job of making us want food we enjoy it so we have the motivation to stay fed & our ego doing its job of keeping the id in check so we don’t end up with diabetes & a severe vitamin deficiency.
I’m no psychologist, although that is a dream of mine, but in my admittedly limited understanding of those concepts, their job is to balance each other out & it seems like an important one. Kids don’t really have a fully developed ego yet so they just know what they want. It’s our job as adults to help them see that as people, we all need each other to be responsible to survive as a society. We know that while, when we’re in a hurry & stuck at a red light or see a speed limit sign, it may seem like it would be okay to go through the intersection if we’re sure no one’s there or go a little above the speed limit because we know we’re careful, but that’s just the id. Luckily, the good ol’ ego is there to remind us that those rules exist for a reason & if we feel we can ignore them, what’s stopping a less careful person from doing the same?
Kids don’t have years of experience learning that, while I’d is quick to pop off at the mouth & knows how to make an impassioned argument, her logic never holds up & in the time it takes to let out an enthusiastic “yeah” of solidarity in agreement, you remember her reasoning is the logical equivalent of Swiss cheese because you’ve already found a hole big enough to drive a truck through. That takes practice and repetition. It’s our job to act as their temporary ego & say things like, “Yeah that’s your toy, you’re completely right. But, if you don’t share your toys with him, when he plays with that really cool toy you love, he doesn’t have to share with you either. Are an extra five minutes of fun now really worth never playing with that again? I don’t know, it seems like an awful lot to give up to me.”
My idea for this one is to pick a few chores that everyone benefits from but that aren’t so important that if they don’t get done there are serious consequences. Maybe you could use loading the dishwasher or folding the laundry, things like that. Then you can come up with additional caring tasks like asking about someone’s day, offering their help, or just seeing if anyone else needs a drink when they’re going into the kitchen to get one for themselves. You can make each chore tasks worth 2 Karma points & each caring tasks three or four points, whatever you want.
If you have two or more kids you could say that the one with the most points at the end of each week gets to pick what movie or game they want for family night or maybe they pick their favorite meal to have one day this week. Come up with whatever chores & rewards make sense for you & your family. If you have one kid you can pick rewards, each worth a certain number of points, (like at the arcade) & they can pick how to spend their points, maybe on an extra story at bedtime or a few more minutes of TV or screen time. Again, you can work it around whatever makes sense for you & your family.
That’s all for this week. I hope you all enjoy this idea. Let me know how you decide to work it around your family & make sure to share what you find works & what doesn’t so that other parents can perfect their system too.
Until next time…