Who doesn’t want a magic wand in their life which can change everything for the better within seconds? Especially with parenting today, when we offer rewards and instant gratification in exchange for any work, as an easy way to get temporary relief, no matter what the long-term consequences.
During my childhood when we had limited resources, I always wished for a magic wand that would help my wishes come true in the blink of an eye. The impending homework, branded shoes, expensive pens, trendy outfit which was nothing less than a luxury. Yet, I haven’t crossed 40 and as a mom to two kids who are a part of generation Z, the difference in mindsets is inevitable.
Sometimes, I feel life takes a full circle and new age words like ‘minimalist’ and ‘delayed gratification’ are actually not new. They are rephrased as per the new generation, but the gist is the same. One can say, it’s old wine in a new bottle!
We grew up in a minimalist way, which is the reason I still value things but don’t expect the same with my kids. They are learning to be minimalist and I make sure I add delayed gratification to their life. But what does it mean? Does it mean that one should not enjoy the fruits of hard work? Or one should never be rewarded for a good deed? How can this affect your life? Can parents practice it?
According to Wikipedia, “delayed gratification is associated with resisting a smaller but more immediate reward in order to receive a larger or more enduring reward later”. I must add that it does need discipline and self-control, which is an important life skill and powerful addition to your personality.
The older generation did not have to learn the skill as it was already part of regular living and society. A hard-earned income those days wasn’t enough to fulfil all desires, even basic ones. Delayed gratification, in fact, helps us to manage situations wisely and judge if the short-term gain is going to prove worthwhile in the long run. In hindsight, the concept is equally powerful as before, except that we tend to abandon it midway, even if it carries a long-term benefit. A little tolerance is what all is required to hone this skill.
Not everything needs a quick-fix
Satisfying a child’s need at the drop of a hat is common. The moment they demand something, you fix it within seconds. At times, a demand can be impulsive or triggered by peer pressure. Talk to the kids, make them understand the value in waiting. Most of the time, the demand goes away with time as it was unnecessary, to begin with.
Make them work hard
We have done a lot of hard work in our times. Things weren’t easy, and our parents never made easy for us. We struggled through and managed to pave our own way. Then, why do we want to create a comfortable and protected environment all the time? Let them fall, fail and run under the sun. There is no quick reward for bigger goals. And the hard work is for yourself, not others. They don’t need a reward for every task they do. It should be as normal as we do our task.
Humility and compassion
It’s a common sight when no one wants to share the load of others. Or they do when you set a reward. This should be taken as a normal virtue to help and the feel-good factor should be a reward in itself.
Give and take
Well, business is all about giving and taking but not our lives. Sometimes, we only give or take. It’s completely fine if you go the extra mile for someone or if someone helps you out. We certainly don’t need to calculate rewards for small acts of kindness or good deeds.
Set clear boundaries
It may be difficult for kids to differentiate between good and bad, but as parents, we can surely help them learn to do so. A healthy and transparent conversation about various topics can surely help them to understand the situation and ultimately control their reaction.
A loving support system
Whatever the circumstances, a compassionate support system can never fail to help you recover. A child should know that she/he has someone to talk about failures or during bad times. They should be heard without unrealistic expectations and judgments.
Ultimately, delayed gratification is not an impossible or obsolete word to practice. It just needs a little more patience and mutual trust!
Published on: The Indian Express