How to raise Generation Z in a Postfigurative society

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A 2016 survey found that over a third of American men ages 18-34 still live at home with their parents. So ladies, this is where the guy you want to marry is – Playing Level 5 Grand Theft Auto in his mother’s basement.

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According to anthropologist Margaret Mead, for millennia, we have been a pre-figurative society. Family tradition determined the career path we took and culture was passed from the elder to the youth of the society. But with the onslaught of new technology, a post-figurative society has emerged where children figure out things before parents do. So in a society where the young know more than their elders, what can we as parents give them? Give them the timeless stuff like soft skills, Tim Elmore, a parenting coach for parents of Generation Y and Z children says. Give them the principles to live a life fully equipped for problem solving.

He gave many insights, which I have compiled below, into how to change our leadership style at home, and to ask ourselves if we are REPAIRING OR PREPARING our emerging adults for their future.

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National trends today: 

  1. Generation Z (kids 16 and under) are able to multi-task on FIVE screens at the same time.
  2. In a nationwide survey 50% of jobs available to recent graduates went unfilled due to lack of basic “soft” skills. A newly hired woman wanted the manager to set aside sometime to be interviewed by her mother to see if he was a good fit as an employer for her daughter.
  3. According to Monster.com, from 2010 to 2014 between 60 to 80% of students moved back home after college.
  4. The Dept. of Defense states that 75% of our teens are not eligible for the military due to obesity, criminal records or failure to graduate.
  5. 14% of recent college grads brought their parents to a job interview in 2014.
  6. In 2000, 90% of high school students planned to attend college. By 2012, over one-third of them didn’t even graduate high school.
  7. 3 out of 4 University kids cheat to make it through college.

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Our children live in times where they are “A generation of firsts” who:
1. Don’t need adults to get information.
They need interpretation not information.
2. Can broadcast their every thought or emotion.
They need help with treating impulsive reactions.
3. Enjoys external stimuli at their fingertips 24/7.
Which leaves no need for internal motivation.
4. Are in social contact at all times.
Yet often physically in isolation and lack people skills.
5. Will learn more from a portable device than a class.
Classroom learning will change radically over the next few years.
6. Turn into adults enabled to be narcissistic.
Need to be taught that the world is bigger than their egos.
7. Use a phone instead of a wristwatch, camera, wall calendar, alarm clock, road-map or board game.

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The 12 mistakes that we are making are:

1. We won’t let them fail.
2. We project our lives on them.
3. We prioritize being happy.
4. We are inconsistent.
5. We remove the consequences.
6. We lie about their potential and don’t explore their true potential.
7. We won’t let them struggle.
8. We give them what they should earn.
9. We praise the wrong things.
10. We value removing all pain.
11. We do it for them.
12. We prepare the path for the child instead of the child for the path.

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There are three big mistakes that need to be talked about in detail:

# WE RISK TOO LITTLE:

Leaving the kids paranoid about their own safety. We are consumed about safety so much that our kids encounter these words more than danger itself:

Danger / Toxic / Do not touch / Flammable / Hazard / Do not walk / Slippery when wet

The frontal lobe, which is responsible for motor function, problem solving, judgement, impulse control, and social behavior grows when we take risks. But we are sheltering our children way too much now which is dangerous in the long run.

Takeaways: When we risk little: 

  1. The more we prevent, the less we prepare.
  2. The more resources we give our kids, the less resourceful they tend to become.
  3. As we obsessively protect kids, they often accrue fears about those dangers.
  4. When we refuse to let kids risk, they fail to become risk-takers.
  5. As adults control environments, we create dependent kids.. who remain kids.

Research demonstrates that children who are protected from grappling with difficult tasks don’t develop what psychologists call ‘mastery experiences’. Kids who have this well earned sense of mastery are more optimistic and decisive; they’ve learned they are capable of overcoming adversity and achieving goals. Kids who have never tested their abilities grow into “emotionally brittle young adults who are more vulnerable to anxiety and depression.” – Hara Estroff-Marano, A Nation of Wimps

# WE RESCUE TOO QUICKLY: 

What Singapore math teaches more than American math teaches kids is: To not give up easily when facing a challenging problem. In an experiment where the same problem that was done by Singapore kids who tried for one hour was given up in 37 seconds by American students. This is not surprising as the average American kid believes in all honesty that the adult will swoop in and save the day.

We drop off forgotten gym shorts, homework and lunches. We want to negotiate with teachers about our children’s grades. We are well intentioned, but do we want happiness today or READINESS tomorrow?

Takeaways: When we rescue:

  1. Students learn total dependency on us.
  2. It fails to teach them consequences of poor choices.
  3. We stunt resilience and resourcefulness.
  4. It creates teens with high arrogance and low self-esteem.
  5. It breeds co-dependent teens unready for autonomy and responsibility.

When kids are conditioned to expect rewards, their motivation begins to depend on the reward not the inward satisfaction of achieving. – Daniel Pink.

# WE RAVE AND REWARD TOO EASILY: 

Stanford psychologists say that 85% of American parents tell their kids that they are smart and they themselves think they do a good job. If a child come across a problem they find challenging, they will not try hard enough because they think, “If I am smart, then I shouldn’t have to try this hard, right?” And further they think, “If I can’t win, I don’t play”.

Takeaways: When we rave too easily:

  1. Kids question our judgement compared to peers.
  2. Kids learn to cheat and lie to avoid difficult reality.
  3. Kids stop responding or taking our words seriously.
  4. We actually stunt kids’ maturation and work ethic.
  5. We stunt character. Praising what’s in their control, fosters better character and conduct.

Takeaways: When we reward too easily: 

  1. When we reward too frequently, students stop owning their education.
  2. With too frequent rewards, teachers must spoon feed rather than facilitate.
  3. With too frequent rewards, learning is all about external “carrots and sticks”.
  4. With too frequent rewards, students stop persevering when rewards disappear.

“A person who grows up getting too frequent rewards will not cultivate persistence, because they’ll quit when the rewards disappear.” – Dr. Robert Cloninger

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Our present day landscape with kids can be described with the acronym: SCENE:

1. Our World is full of Speed:
Consequently, we assume: Slow is bad.
2. Our World is full of Convenience:
Consequently, we assume: Hard is bad.
3. Our World is full of Entertainment:
Consequently, we assume: Boring is bad.
4. Our World is full of Nurture:
Consequently, we assume: Risk is bad.
5. Our World is full of Entitlement:
Consequently, we assume: Labor is bad.

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12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid Vs. Mindset Shifts We Must Make by Tim Elmore: 

  1. Don’t think CONTROL, think CONNECT.
  2. Don’t think INFORM, think INTERPRET.
  3. Don’t think ENTERTAIN, think EQUIP.
  4. Don’t think DO IT FOR THEM, think HELP THEM DO IT.
  5. Don’t think IMPOSE, think EXPOSE.
  6. Don’t think PRESCRIPTIVE, think DESCRIPTIVE.
  7. Don’t think PREVENT, think PREPARE.
  8. Don’t think TELL, think ASK.
  9. Don’t think COOL, think REAL.
  10. Don’t think LECTURE, think LAB.
  11. Don’t think RULES, think EQUATIONS.
  12. Don’t think MANAGE, think MENTOR.

In regard to our children, we’ve been guilty of the soft bigotry of low expectations. – George W. Bush

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A case for condemning praise:

When children receive excessive praise, it cements their view of themselves. They are less inclined to work harder, overcome obstacles and achieve more. But does that mean we can’t praise our offspring?

As a parent, appreciate the process they are employing to achieve a desired goal. Encourage them to learn the importance of staying focused on the outcome by working hard and employing good strategies. Show that abilities can be grown, even when the natural talent for something is not there. The prefrontal cortex monitors the reward center of the brain. The brain has to learn that frustrating times can be worked through. The reward center will then learn to say: “Don’t give up. Don’t stop trying.”

When we praise variables out of their control, we foster a FIXED MINDSET. When we praise variables in their control, we foster a GROWTH MINDSET. – Carol Dweck

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Conclusion: 

We start out with pretty low standards for our children. On the ultrasound, we just want to see two legs and two hands and a normal size head. Then we just want them home safe from the hospital and into their brand spanking new crib. From there on, overnight we move from nurturing to panicking as a parent. And if you are like me, since you have made it from a village in India to living the American dream, your child will have to get a leg up and that only means he can’t stop until landing on Mars.

We are over-parenting in a lot of ways and in George Carlin’s words, “If you want to know how to help your children, ‘Leave them the F*** alone.’” So, what can we teach these children who will be doing jobs that haven’t been invented yet?

SOLUTIONS: 

  1. As parents, understand the importance of telling them what they NEED to hear and not what they want to hear about their capabilities.
  2. Raise them by not praising too much or rewarding prematurely.
  3. Slow down and become intentional. Boredom is shown to increase empathy and creativity.
  4. Give them the right feedback. What gets rewarded gets repeated. When they fall back on your expectations, don’t show disappointment. Say instead, “I have high expectations from you, I know you can do it.”
  5. Encourage them to change not what they think, but HOW they think. Let them struggle and give them the benefit of knowing that they’ve got it.
  6. Give them insights, encourage them to list the steps that will ensure them to be successful on any given day.
  7. “This is too hard” is a phrase that kids use often. Encourage them to develop their resilience by teaching them that failure slapped on with a loads of determination will take them all the way to success.
  8. Teach them equations not expectations: “If you do THIS you get a benefit, if you do THAT, you face a consequence.”
  9. Teach them that their success has much to do with what they expect to happen and how they will prepare for it.
  10. Challenge them in ways that builds their social, emotional and spiritual muscles. In turn it increases perseverance, positive attitude and resilience.

To attain emotional maturity, each of us must learn to develop two critical capacities: the ability to live with uncertainty and the ability to delay gratification in favor of long-range goals. Adolescence is a time of maximum resistance to further growth. It is a time characterized by the teenager’s ingenious efforts to maintain the privileges of childhood, while at the same time demanding the rights of adulthood. It is a point beyond which many humans do not pass emotionally. The more we do for our children, the less they can do for themselves. The dependent child of today is destined to become the dependent parent of tomorrow. – by Dr. Aaron Sterns.

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4 Comments

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  1. Amazing read! I’ll reuse this to keep my behaviors on track.

  2. Guilty, guilty, guilty, ….

    I’m sending this to my daughter with the instructions: “Read this. Then we gotta talk.”

    I made all of these mistakes as a single mom with a full time professional job. My kids have health issues that compounds the tendency to coddle. My children are in their late 20s. Now what do I do?

    • Thank you Kitsy. Tell your children that self reliance is a learned skill and then start working on your own bucket list. Life’s too short to be tied down to clingy 20 something children. Haven’t you done enough for them already?

  3. Present day society needs to understand and implement each word of this post just for the sake a better tomorrow.

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