According to a new research, young people today are significantly more narcissistic than during the 1980s and 1990s. A recent study that examined the empathy levels of almost 14,000 university students between 1979 and 2009 found that students have become dramatically less empathic over the years, particularly since 2000.
Well there is more, a 2006 survey showed that 81 percent of 18 - 25-year-olds think getting rich is an important goal, and 64 percent think it’s the most important goal. Sadly, only 30 percent believe that helping others in need is important.
Are we in the middle of a narcissism epidemic and if so who or what is to be blamed? It seems that people are more self-centered and entitled than ever. The problem appears to span all ages and, in my observation, is especially true of children.
In today’s world of helicopter parenting, over-involved guardians and uber-protected children, knowingly or unknowingly we are raising a self-focused, “all about me” generation. Children often believe that things will just be done for them.
If they wait long enough, someone will pick up after them. If they ask enough times, someone will give in. If they act disappointed or sad, someone will give them what they want. If they seem remorseful enough, someone will cover for them or let the situation slide. Thinking about entitlement is fascinating.
For example, we often think that young people are motivated by money, and therefore we pay them to do their chores. What happens, though, when the teen doesn’t really want the money because there is no party this weekend or nothing he or she currently wishes to purchase? That chore may not get done, because there is no motivation to do it.
The money, although exciting at first, loses value. The extrinsic reward does not create intrinsic motivation. So, what happens? We up the reward. Ultimately, we teach our children that they can demand more and expect to get it, building their sense of entitlement.
I feel we aren’t holding children and young adults accountable for their actions. They can save their allowance to replace the cell phone they lost. They can figure out how to talk to the teacher about the forgotten homework. Children and young adults are pretty resilient and resourceful when we let them be.
Unfortunately, most of the time, parents are afraid to loosen the reins and let them be. It’s time for that to change. So how can parents help students avoid the joyless path of self-absorption and instead cultivate a life in which they feel part of something larger than themselves - one of the keys to a meaningful life?
Be an example: You must be an example of kindness if you want your kids to be kind to others.
Don’t gossip in front of your kids: They are listening. They are taking it all in like a sponge. They will soon start to do the same.
Teach a man to fish: As you all have heard that quote about “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”
Try to give siblings a lot of opportunities to help one another and teach one another the skills they have learnt…. “Can you show your brother the cool bug that you found? Can you help your sister walk up the stairs?”
LOOK at your child: Let your child know that you see them and hear them. Let them know when you are proud of them. People love words of affirmation.
Help them understand WHY we do what we do: Tell your kids why you volunteer and how it helps others. Give them opportunities to volunteer with you.
Teach perspective: If we want to teach someone to understand another point of view, we have to show them how. Encourage your child to consider how another person might be feeling, or what someone else might think about a given situation.