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ENOUGH ALREADY! How Much is TOO Much ?

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  1. ENOUGH ALREADY!How Much is TOO Much? Presented by: Sue Utter Counselor Carl Junction High School sutter@cj.k12.mo.us (417)649-7081- work (417)782-0061 - home

  2. Our culture is awash in EXCESS—emphasis on quantity, brand names, individual expression and rights, etc. • Media tells us we don’t have the right “stuff,” we really “deserve more,” etc. • Best way to show love is to give things • Paris Hilton, Anna Nichole—need I say more???

  3. What is overindulgence anyway?The key word in overindulgence is “over”(and it is the opposite of disciple.) • Giving children too much of what looks good, too soon, and/or for too long. • Giving them things or experiences that are not appropriate for their age or their interests/talents. • The process of giving things to children to meet the adult’s needs rather than the child’s needs.

  4. What is overindulgence anyway? • Giving a disproportionate amount of family resources to a child/children in a way that appears to meet the child/children’s needs …but really does not. • Doing or having so much of something that it actually does harm – it prevents the child from developing age appropriately and keeps the child from achieving his or her full potential.

  5. What is overindulgence anyway? • Can be considered a form of (unintentional) child neglect because it hinders children from performing the needed/necessary developmental tasks and prevents them from learning necessary life lessons (responsibility, perseverance, decision-making skills, independence, and self-discipline).

  6. How can I tell if it is Overindulgence?“The Test of Four” 1. Does the situation hinder the child from learning the tasks that support his/her development and learning at this age? 2. Does the situation give a disproportionate amount of family resources (money, space, time, energy, attention, etc.) to one child (or the children)? 3. Does the situation exist to benefit the adult more than it benefits the child? 4. Does the child’s resulting behavior potentially harm others, society or the planet in some way? If any one of these clues is clearly present, there is an issue or problem with overindulgence.

  7. What do we know about overindulgence? • It is all around us • It is rooted in good intentions • It occurs at all socioeconomic levels • It is not limited to “dysfunctional families” • It is not just only or youngest children • It is not just about too much “stuff”—it can also be about too much attention and / or wobbly rules.

  8. What do we know about overindulgence? (con’t) • It is not just grandparents or parents who do it. • It causes much more pain for the children involved than we ever imagined. • It is not harmless—it can set children up for problems and failures in their adult life. • It is unintentional. • Once identified…it can be changed.

  9. Indicators of OverindulgenceWhen I was growing up… • My parents did things for me I should have done for myself • My parents did not expect me to do any chores • I was allowed to have all the toys, clothes, etc. that I wanted • I had lots of privileges and too much freedom • My parents allowed me to be in charge of/dominate the family • My parents smother-loved me—I got too much attention • My parents had rules but I didn’t follow them and they didn’t enforce them • My parents scheduled me or lots of things—activities, camps, lessons • My parents made sure I was always entertained—but I spent a lot of time on my own or with others, and very little time with them

  10. What conditions can lead to overindulgence? • Working parents (guilt) • Unresolved conflict between parents/adults • Parents meeting their needs through their children • Divorce/separation/stepfamilies, etc. • Presence of addictions • Overcompensating for a child’s loss, neglect or abuse, illness, disability, death of loved one, etc. • Only child/grandchild, long-awaited child, etc. • Lack of knowledge of child development and/or lack of good parenting skills

  11. Why do parents overindulge their children? Parental Guilt Mask parental favoritism “Keep up with Joneses” (or their parent peer group) To control/manipulate their kids Fear of conflict/rejection Competing w/ spouse/ex-spouse Inability to set and enforce limits Buy child’s love Give in to pressure (of other kids/parents/media) So they feel like a “good parent”/build their own self-esteem Avoid child’s anger Avoid/not make a scene Meet their own need to be needed Desire to give child what they did not have as a child Project the parent’s vision of the perfect child Compensate for a child who feels “less than”

  12. How do kids feel who were overindulged? • 44% confused because it “didn’t seem right” • 40% embarrassed because I didn’t know how to do things that other kids knew how to do • 31% guilt, bad, sad • 29% good at the time, but later ashamed and guilty • 28% good because I always got everything that I wanted • 27% embarrassed because I knew somehow that it wasn’t fair compared to what other kids had • 19% strange…because no matter how much of something I got, I was never satisfied • 15% good because I got to make all the decisions • 13% “ignored” / “paid-off” / “bought off”

  13. Adult consequences of overindulgence: • Feelings of incompetence or inferiority • Feelings of inadequacy—insecurity • Uneasy feeling that others resent me • False sense of power/entitlement • Unrealistic view of self and unrealistic world view • Expectation to always be the center of attention • Expectation that others will/should always meet my responsibilities/needs • Lack of empathy—inability to put others needs first • Lack of perseverance or ability to delay gratification • Lack of respect for authority-difficulty with rules • Inability to determine what is “enough” in any area of life (money, food, property, love, etc.) • Discontent, dissatisfied—don’t feel loved by others

  14. Quotes from adults who were overindulged • I’m often angry when I don’t get my way or what I want • I still feel confused, because they said they loved me, but I didn’t or couldn’t feel it…and I didn’t know it. • I often feel disappointed in others…I always feel let down by them. • I always seem to expect more than I get • I can’t afford myself and I feel like a failure • I feel like I never grew up & I can’t set reasonable limits • I think I am unrealistic about the realities of life • I have trouble budgeting anything—time, money, etc. • I don’t have very good coping skills when I face difficulties or disappointments. • I am fat…but I still feel empty and hungry—even after I eat. • I am just not ever satisfied…with anything, it seems. • I am overweight, drink too much at a time, and often overcook and over feed my family and guests.

  15. So…just exactly what is “ENOUGH”? • Small group activity • Come up with a workable definition for the following terms using your group’s topic: TOO LITTLE ENOUGH ABUNDANCE TOO MUCH • Share groups results

  16. Basic Definitions • Too Little – Not having adequate resources to maintain basic needs such as health, life, safety. • Enough — Having what is needed so you don’t have to worry. Adequate or sufficient. • Abundance — Having some extras occasionally that make life more enjoyable, exciting and/or interesting (can be shared or given away). Opulence or luxuriance. • Too Much — having abundance so often or all of the time so that you no longer appreciate or enjoy it.

  17. Three Types of Overindulgence(and their consequences) • Giving Too Much • Over Nurturing • Soft Structure

  18. Giving Too MuchIf you water a plant too much it dies…even if you water it too much out of love, it still dies. • Providing too many resources or too much of something that is purchased. • Research indicated 5 major areas of this type of over indulgence: toys clothes entertainment activities privileges

  19. Consequences of Giving Too Much • Lack of respect for property or the money/effort it takes to buy things • Child believes and acts as if he/she is the center of the universe • Unrealistic view of self and actual skill/ability levels • Unrealistic world view and what it takes to be successful • Inability to persevere • Inability to delay gratification • Difficulty with empathy • Difficulty putting the needs of others before their own • Difficulty determining what is “enough” in other life areas

  20. Over NurturingA proverb warns that you shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds you…but maybe you should if it prevents you from feeding yourself. • Doing things for a child that the child is capable of doing for himself/herself. • Doing things for a child that are developmentally age appropriate for him/her. • Doing too much of a good thing—it is a smothering kind of love/care.

  21. Consequences of Over Nurturing • Learned/trained helplessness—feeling useless • Lack of confidence/insecurity—lack of self respect • Failure to achieve potential—(when a parent over-functions the child under-functions) • Procrastination—inability to see a project to completion • Low frustration level / lack of patience • Inability to stick with a task that is unpleasant until it is completed or resolved • Difficulty with decision-making • Inability to deal with normal life frustrations

  22. Soft StructureOn the average, children want ten times more attention, toys, freedom and so on then they actually need. About the only things children today need more than they want are chores and consequences. • Giving children too much freedom and license for their age—allowing the children to run the family. • Giving children choices and experiences that are not appropriate for their age, interests or talents. • Failure to insist that children learn important life skills.

  23. Consequences of Soft Structure • Develop weak social and personal boundaries • Trained to be irresponsible (no chores or contribution to well-being of the family/whole) • Have a false sense of empowerment/importance • Lack of respect for authority • Difficulty following rules and guidelines/they don’t apply to me • Children often feel neglected or ignored--that their parents didn’t careenough to set limits/make rules for their behavior • Confusion because treatment was often not consistent • Never knowing what is normal/expected

  24. How do kids learn what “enough” is?(Some of your students may have no concept of what “enough is.) • Unfortunately there is no workbook to teach what “enough” is.  • It is taught consistently, informally, a little at a time and by repetition. *You have been up long enough…its time for a nap. *You have had enough cookies…I am putting them away now. *You have been at Blake’s long enough…it is time to come home. *You have enough jeans for now…but I may consider getting those for you for your birthday next month. *We’ve played long enough, now its time to do your homework.

  25. Dr. Phil’s Segments Spoiled and Entitled Two examples of kids who do NOT know what enough is…and the parents/families who created them. Watch for indicators of the conditions that commonly lead to overindulgence as you watch.

  26. Breaking the Cycle of Overindulgence • Learn and/or review what is developmentally appropriate for the students at your grade level—and set that as your expectation. • Conduct a self-assessment to be sure you are not giving/nurturing too much to meet some of your own needs to be liked/needed. • Establish firm structure in your classroom—one that enforces rules, creates firm boundaries, monitors children’s safety and teaches skills for living. • Be sure that your classroom expectations are conveyed clearly to your students (and their parents) and then enforce them fairly and consistently…with empathy. • Remember that “NO” is not a four letter word. • Do not perform tasks for students they are capable of doing themselves or lower your expectations for them because it is difficult for you to watch them struggle or experience failure. Students can interpret this as a lack of confidence in their skills or abilities.

  27. Breaking the Cycle of Overindulgence(continued) • Don’t allow others to circumvent your classroom guidelines and tactfully turn down invitations to overindulge (room mothers, etc.) • Remember that giving children what they need is important…but giving them everything they want is extremely dangerous and has far reaching negative consequences. • Follow the “Three R’s”—respect for yourself, respect for others and responsibility for your actions (and their consequences.) • Create tasks/chores within your classroom setting that can be performed by students so that they are allowed (and required to) do their share/contribute to benefit the whole. • Remember that adversity and frustration are inevitable part of life. Kids won’t die from experiencing a little of each.

  28. What Can I Do in My Classroom? • Use the term “enough” frequently and explain/verbalize how to determine how much “enough” is. (feel free to use/modify the exercise that we did in this workshop.  ) • Help students learn the difference between “wants” and “needs” – “necessities” and “luxury items.” • Have guest speakers from places like the Red Cross, Ronald McDonald House, food pantry, etc. come speak to your students about their program and needs. • Make your students aware of situations that exist in which others do not have “enough” or have less than they do (those in single parent/income families, victims of natural disasters such as fires, floods, tornadoes, etc.) maintaining confidentiality, of course.

  29. What Can I Do in My Classroom?(continued) • Provide your students with the opportunity to do something to assist those who are less fortunate/ have “too little”—and not just by bringing money (participate as a class in a walk for life, Hospice walks, etc.) • Make your students aware of organizations that are always looking for volunteers (Ronald McDonald House, Humane Society, C.P. Center, Senior Citizen’s Center, Lafayette House, Soul’s Harbor etc.) and encourage their participation. • Provide your students with the opportunity to assist in activities to provide for those less fortunate (mitten trees and needy families at Christmas, lawn work for the elderly or disabled, etc.)

  30. What Can I Do in My Classroom?(continued) • Make students aware that Americans are sometimes seen my other countries’ citizens as a nation of overindulged people…and discuss why this might be. • Honestly interpret student’s nationally normed test scores and help them accurately assess where they stand. • Help students analyze and prepare a realistic budget—what does it cost to “move out on your own,” get a pet, own a car etc. • Cut articles out of the paper or share TV news stories that showcase the generosity of others.

  31. What Can I Do in My Classroom?(continued) • Model reasonable “enough” guidelines in your classroom (with occasional abundance for fun, of course!) Do not compete with other grades or teachers to have the prettiest room, most attractive bulletin boards, most extravagant parties, etc. • Privately or otherwise, acknowledge/recognize students who demonstrate good decision-making and a knowledge of “enough. • Ask your students to bring in examples of media propaganda and its efforts to make us “want things” or be dissatisfied with what we have or look like. Ask them to share these examples with the class and how to resist the temptations they represent.

  32. ENOUGH • I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright… • I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more, • I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive… • I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear that much larger, • I wish you enough gain to satisfy your needs (and some wants!)  • And I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess. 

  33. We want to raise kids with an expectation of service and an attitude of gratitude…not a sense of entitlement. Remember…parenting (and teaching) are not based on one-time encounter—it’s a campaign!!! Questions (and hopefully answers!) Thanks for attending! 