Parenting Teen/Tweens over Christmas - part three

How to ease the stress, manage expectations and enjoy the big day.

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Read part one here and part two here

Tip Six -Are you raising a wanting machine?

OK, so it’s coming up to Christmas and despite our every effort this time of year to our darling teenagers has turned into nothing more than a shop front.

I have to say, I was shopping a few years ago with my then 7-year-old and we saw a Bratz House. We looked at it and I was astonished at a price tag or £189. I could not believe it, for a plastic house! This was great as it allowed for us to have a conversation about money, however my heart went out as I know that many Parents will be pestered and pestered for that house and Parents all over the country will give in to make their children happy. The power of advertising!

What has happened, we appear to have created a group of Parents who cannot say no. Parents seem unwilling to set limits or draw the line anywhere. Is it that they feel more guilty as so many of them are working such long hours, is it that our kids have just got better at asking, or is it that the advertising is so good that we just cannot say no?

Whatever the reason, I have to say that I am concerned that we are raising a generation who are ‘wanting machines’, who respond to the marketing aimed right at them. They are growing up with a distorted sense of entitlement and we risk the next generation becoming self-centred, self-absorbed and growing up into adults that simply do not care. And the figures are staggering. According to market research, Families of 3-12 year olds now spend $53.8 Billion annually on entertainment, personal care items and reading material, $17.6 billion more that 1997. And there is another worrying thought, does over-indulgence have a bad effect on school performance and relationships? Kids who get their own way most of the time are very demanding and much less likely to be able to form long-lasting, sustainable relationships with people. Today, I want you to think about your own little angel and ask: What values and morals am I instilling in my child by what I buy them? What values and morals do I want to instil and am I in line with them? How can I support my teenager in understanding the real meaning of Christmas?

Tip Seven –curbing pester power

So how do you curb pester power?

Well I think there are three things:

1. Know what you want

2. Communicate this

3. Be consistent

Get clear what you want as a Parent.

Most of us are so clear about trying to please our children and give them what they want that we forget about what we want. And I don’t mean material things, I mean what you want out of life - what do you want as a Parent, what is your purpose for being a Parent? Now it may be that your purpose is to give your children absolutely everything they want and if that is the case, you are on course. If however, like me, your purpose is to raise a responsible and independent young adult who is caring and compassionate, what you are doing may be against where you really want to be. So next time they say, “Mum can I have . . . . . . ?” check in with what you want as a Parent and see if it fits. If it does, great - if not then tell them they cannot and why, for example, “No I will not get you a mobile phone at age 7 because I think it is a big responsibility that you are too young to handle at the moment. No you cannot have a belly button ring because I believe you should not mutilate your body until you at least know what it is going to look like when it is fully developed.” And when you get the usual, “Well everyone else has!”, don’t use the, “Well if they jumped of a cliff…”, just say that that is fine, but my values are this and this is why I have made this decision. If they still continue to pester and pester, ask this question. “What do you think having that will give you?” I know you may stump them, but they will answer and if they don’t know, then why do they want it in the first place? When they tell you what they think having that thing will give them, ask them how they can get more of that into their lives now. When we do this we realise that actually we did not want the thing, but only the quality we thought the thing would give us. Now this one will really stop them, If they continue to ask, say that you are not prepared to pay for it and ask how you can support them in getting it. Firstly, they may turn to all the illegal things and they may need some prompting. You may need to ask how they can get the money; encourage their creativity. Maybe they will sell things on E-bay, train others how to use Excel or build websites for others.

Continue the conversation on Facebook.

Sarah Newton

Author, Speaker and Youth Coach

Sarah Newton has shared her innovative wisdom with millions who have tuned into her TV and Radio shows, followed her writing and listened to her unconventional talks. She has been described as a catalyst, daring all she meets to break out from social norms and follow their own path. She has worked in youth empowerment for over 30 years, first as a police officer and then eventually running her own business, via a stint at Disney World in Florida. Sarah has a no-nonsense, down-to-earth approach to solving most youth-associated problems, based on tactics that work, not rhetoric out of a book. She often is the only one in the room to stand by her viewpoint and tends to think the opposite from everyone else. Star of ITV’s “My Teen’s A Nightmare, I’m Moving Out” and author of “Help! My Teenager is an Alien – the everyday situation guide for parents”, Sarah has just teamed up with her daughter to write a novel to help girls with their body image issues, she has also written for The Guardian, The Huffington Post and the Daily Mail. Sarah also sits on the UK board of the Arbonne Charitable Foundation and is an ambassador for Girls Out Loud.