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Give Your Kids the “N” Word

By Mark Brandenburg

What's your main purpose as a parent? Isn't it to prepare your kids to be happy, healthy, successful people in their own lives? What's the best way to do this?

One effective method of preparing them for their own lives is to give them a heavy dose of the word that not enough kids are getting today. That word is the "N" word -- the word “no.”

We all deal with a certain amount of frustration in our everyday adult lives. We are frustrated at our jobs, in our relationships and by circumstances that we have no control over. Over time, we learn to handle frustration better and to turn it into challenges and opportunities that we work through.

People who can handle frustration successfully tend to have happier and more successful lives. They learn to be resilient and to appreciate what they've accomplished and what they've received.

Get over it
How about your kids? Are your kids being frustrated enough? Are there high enough expectations being placed on them? Are you saying no enough, and are you allowing them to have opportunities to be frustrated and to work through it?

There are a lot of kids today receiving boatloads of gifts and gadgets from their parents who aren't being given many responsibilities within their families. If you're not allowing your kids to be exposed to responsibility and frustration, and if you're not liberally giving out the “n” word to them, you may be creating monsters within the confines of your home.

Many parents have gone through hard times in their lives and naturally want to spare their children the same fate that they experienced. They have a very difficult time seeing their children struggling and allowing them to deal with it. The result of this choice is that many children today get almost everything they want in terms of clothes, electronic gadgets, toys, etc. The amount of stuff they receive and the new products that they want keep growing every year.

What are we getting in life?
Try comparing what your children get in terms of their most wanted items to what you get in your life. Is it a close comparison?

It's clear that many parents are preparing their kids for a life that's out of touch with the real world. The same kids who have so many material possessions often don't appreciate or take care of what they do have. Why should they? There will probably be more goodies coming soon.

Parents who say “no” to their kids on a fairly regular basis take a big step towards ensuring that their kids are happy, responsible and successful. Here are some specific actions that parents can take:

If you're married, consult with your spouse about what your dose of the "n" word will be. Creating a unified front will strengthen your position and cause fewer conflicts.

Never do things for your children that they can do for themselves. Allow them to be frustrated and to learn to be more resilient.

Consider an allowance for your kids, even if they're quite young, so that they can develop a sense of responsibility with money and a sense of taking care of their things.

Take stock of your children's possessions. Do they have way too many things? Are their some things that might be better suited for Goodwill?

Foster an environment of appreciation for the things you have. Model this appreciation in how you care for the things you own and how you use them.

Limit the number and price of the gifts your kids receive at holidays and parties. Donate or give away the gifts that they aren't very interested in. Talk to your relatives and friends if necessary about what you're trying to do.

The challenges of inexperience
It's difficult at times to see your kids struggle with the many challenges of being young and inexperienced. Frustration is a constant companion of kids as they learn the many skills and demands of living their lives.

Parents can make an extremely important choice for themselves and their children when these frustrating moments arise. They can see the opportunity for their kids to learn from these moments by having to work through these feelings. Parents who are really interested in the success of their kids are motivated by doing what works for their kids in the long run.

Parents who are interested in having their kids avoid pain are doing their kids a disservice. They're more interested in being a savior than serving their kids. The message comes in loud and clear for them: “Your parents don’t think you can handle this.”

Remember that some day, your kids will figure these things out for themselves. And when they do, they'll thank you for allowing them to struggle.

© Mark Brandenburg

Mark Brandenburg, MA, CPCC, CSC, is an author, speaker and certified relationship coach. He has worked with individuals, teams and families to improve their lives for more than 20 years. He is the author of a number of books for men, including 25 Secrets of Emotionally Intelligent Fathers. Mark coaches parents from around the country through weekly telephone coaching sessions on balancing their lives and improving their parenting. He runs workshops and gives presentations for fathers and for parents that are enthusiastically received, as well as teleclasses for parents at

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