We are living in an era of entitlement, a term used to describe a strange malaise gripping many of our youth. Children from a surprising variety of socioeconomic groups, who have been given too much with little or no effort on their part, clearly feel they deserve to have what they want, when they want it. The symptoms of these "gimmies" are easy to recognize-the insatiable craving for more stuff while showing less appreciation, less interest, and less valuing for what they already have.
Experts have noticed that children showing signs of entitlement often have more difficulty relating in healthy ways with others. In addition, they are frequently medicated for more stress-, depression-, and anxiety-related conditions than peers unaffected by this condition. It's all too easy for a child to slip into this state of entitlement.
Fortunately, a delightful antidote to much of that risk has sprung from the frisky imagination of Alisa T. Weinstein, a mother of two with a background in marketing and enough energy to light a small city. In today's society of high commerce and consumption, children between the ages of four and twelve have few ways to earn, learn, or become discerning about money. But the alternative allowance program featured in Earn it, Learn It provides us with multiple opportunities to teach children in this age group to work for, value, and handle money wisely.
In this book, Ms. Weinstein addresses some of the knottiest questions parents have about these issues. She deals straightforwardly with common parental concerns about allowances, and the flexibility of this approach can be tailored to any parent's convictions on the subject.
Ms. Weinstein recognizes that the motivation to "get" can be harnessed. It can be used to reach much more substantive goals and to teach vital values that build character, competence, and solid social connections in the bargain.
Children generally possess only a narrow range of ideas about the broad spectrum of career opportunities that exist in the world. They yearn to know more about the fascinating kinds of work adults love to do. If only they could find someone to make the introductions.
This book offers kids a full "dress-up box" of real-life vocations to try on. Each profession, such as Zoologist, Musician, Meteorologist, or Outdoor Adventure Guide, is introduced by an enthusiastic expert in that field. Since children learn best experientially, they suddenly have at their fingertips engaging opportunities to explore the multitude of interesting careers that keep our society humming along productively, artistically, and scientifically. The ability to envision an exciting future for themselves explodes with each new possibility.
For many harried parents, finding ways to connect with their kids at certain ages can be difficult at best. As your child checks the day's weather, learns to measure rain or snowfall, and provides the family with a daily weather report, the whole family will benefit from her discoveries and contributions. Children's regular family responsibilities, such as caring for family pets, learning to make tasty sandwiches, or organizing the bookcase in the family room, also take on greater meaning as the child recognizes the value of good work-and possibly the connection to being a Meteorologist, Zoologist, Chef, and Librarian.
"Finding the time" is probably the biggest obstacle parents identify in their lives. Earn It, Learn It will hand you a treasure chest of manageable ways to be involved with your child that fit into workable chunks of time. You will find many of these experiences to be as eye-opening and as irresistible as your child does. Suddenly quality time becomes so easy to achieve you will both want to go back for more on a frequent basis.
You will be amazed at how hard your children are willing to work, how self-motivated, resourceful, and dedicated they can become, how excited they will be to progress and finally accomplish these tasks. Becoming a competent producer and generous contributor, rather than just a consumer, supplies a deep level of satisfaction that sticks to children's intellectual, emotional, and moral ribs longer-and nourishes them better-than just getting "stuff." Appreciation grows as kids develop a recognition of the effort and care others exert on their behalf. From this fertile mix, their confidence and self-respect will flourish.
There's gold-and a bit of genius-in these pages. As our culture dumbs down a lot of learning experiences for children, the program in Earn It, Learn It helps us all wise up. So cut way back on the overgiving of gifts and treats. Instead, read, share, get involved with, and enjoy these rich opportunities together. Perhaps the best part of all is that your child's relationship with you and others will grow and flourish as you venture along with your mini-professional.
Linda E. Jessup, RN, MPH, FNP, certified Adlerian parent educator, founder of the Parent Encouragement Program (PEP, Inc.)