A lot of unfair terms get bandied about when it comes to the younger generations. The most egregious of these is the word ‘entitled’. We hear it used all the time, often by baby boomers to describe millennials. While it’s a lazy criticism, and not one that applies to the overwhelming majority of today’s youth, it raises an interesting point. How can we act surprised when teenagers behave in a way that’s selfish, spoilt or self-entitled when our generation has provided the infrastructure for them to do so. Today’s youth is the first generation to grow up in an age in which social media is the norm rather than a novelty. They expect to have to present a pixel-perfect, airbrushed and stage managed version of themselves, and this engenders a mentality that supposes that not only is a perfect life to be expected, it’s their God given right.
We owe it to our children to show them that life is rarely that simple and rather than glossing over their imperfections with an Instagram filter they should instead condition themselves to expect more from themselves and not the world around them. Aspiration is important, and inspiring your children to aspire, is a great way to give them a good start in life. But in order to do that one has to…
Lead by example
Today’s children are savvier than ever and the “do as I say, not as I do” mentality just won’t cut it anymore. There’s little use in telling your children to get out and be self-motivated from the comfort of an armchair and an eyeful of Coronation Street. The best way to show your kids that you’re serious about the ideals you espouse is to live them yourself.
Encourage a healthy mind and healthy body
First of all, a healthy diet is the most important cornerstone of well being for anyone but most importantly for children. With a much larger and more egregious assortment of highly processed junk foods on the market than ever before, children need to be taught the value of nutrition as it is one of the surest indicators that they will grow up into healthy adults. Ensuring that their (and your) diet consists of whole foods and mostly (or even entirely) plant based products is one of the greatest favours you can do your children.
Exercise is also tremendously important not just for heart health, fitness and managing body weight but can also help to improve concentration and elevate low mood. Sporting activities are highly important for kids as they come with the same benefits of general exercise and encourage the same culture of self-assessment and improvement but with added social benefits that will expand their circle of friends and encourage them to use strategic thinking and leadership skills.
The power of building confidence and self esteem through achievement in sport cannot be underestimated. A trophy in a child’s bedroom is a constant reminder not only of what they can achieve but as a reminder to keep aspiring to achieve their next goal. You can buy them somewhere like here to give your child that feeling. Through the unification of a healthy body and mind, children are better placed to know their capabilities and aspire to be better.
Getting out in the analogue world
Finally, children should be encouraged to engage with the community around them. Help them to engage with local events and charitable causes and facilitate their interactions with as wide a range of figures as possible. They will meet inspirational people and become more informed and well rounded individuals for it.