Today’s subject is about one of my personal theories regarding why it is hard for so many young people to find motivation to succeed. Having said that, I would like to emphasize that I do not think I am old. I am also not young. I remember that when I was a child, entertainment was something that happened only occasionally. There was one television in our home, it had two television channels, and they stopped broadcasting at midnight and didn’t begin again until 6 am. We watched television maybe two hours a week, and usually we sat down together as a family, to watch a family program. I have a friend who is 84. She remembers not even having radio when she was young, then the excitement when her family did eventually have a radio, and how they gathered around it to listen to their favorite programs.
Compare that to the youth of today. They are bombarded with entertainment from the moment they are born. Television? That doesn’t even begin to account for what kids today have to deal with. Yes, television is an ever-present reality, with programming around the clock….literally hundreds of stations to choose from. Most television programming is not family friendly. Most families today have a television in every room. It is not uncommon for young children to have their own television in their bedroom. Add to that the internet, smart phones, lap tops, tablets, video games, music in every format imaginable…..and we are seeing a far different reality for children of today. I was recently talking with a 5-year-old. He had an iPhone in his hand and was playing a game on it. I asked him if his Mom was letting him use her iPhone, and he proudly announced that this was his own phone. He was 5, and he had a miniature computer in his hands, with internet access and unlimited possibilities.
I believe that it is difficult for young people to have non-stop entertainment available to them from an early age. I believe it creates a difficult mind-set which is something like this: “Why should I have to work to achieve anything? Isn’t life supposed to be fun?”
The tragedy in this is that these kids don’t ever have the opportunity to learn that hard work can be a source of fun. I remember when I was a kid that I actually had fun doing chores. We raked leaves in the fall….then ran and jumped into them! Of course we would eventually get around to picking up the huge piles of leaves….but we had fun along the way. We shoveled snow in the winter… and built snow men and had snow ball fights. We watered the garden in the summer….then turned the hose on each other. We worked and played in nature, and nature was our teacher. When we were out of school on break….we played “school”. We took turns pretending to be the teacher. We read encyclopedias and dictionaries for fun. We created our own entertainment, and in doing so, we learned about working.
My grandson is 3 1/2. Last week he was at my house visiting. After he had lost interest in playing with the blocks he’d gotten out, we asked him to pick them up. At first he whined and complained that it was too hard. We stood firm with him, acknowledged that we were asking him to work, and in a matter of fact way, let him know that we expected him to clean up his own mess. He began to pick up the blocks, sulking at first. Within moments though, he’d found a way to turn his chore into a fun game. His sulk turned into happiness. He finished, and looked around with pride at what he had accomplished.
I wondered as I watched this, “How many children are not given the opportunity to learn how to find joy in work?” I thought about the rash of cyber-bullying, disrespect, and general lack of empathy in many young people around the globe. I thought about how so many young people assume that having access to the internet, being able to instantly share their thoughts, photos, and often their rudeness with the rest of the world is something that they take for granted. I wondered how many of these young people have ever had the joy of completing a chore just because they should? I wondered about the parents and grandparents who are confused about whether or not it is OK to set limits, to assign chores, to expect results.
If you are the parent or grandparent of a young child, think about these things. Please don’t rob your child of the joy of learning to work. Please, turn off the TV and go outside. Say no to constant entertainment. Be brave enough to set limits, assign chores, and witness the grumbling and whining. Be patient enough to watch as grumbling turns to giggles. It is a gift of unlimited value.
Wishing you the joy of a job well done…and some giggles along the way.