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Clapham Blog

Babysitting: An Antidote to Entitlement!

Posted by Kelly Arensen on Oct 28, 2019 2:00:00 PM

 

Sometimes it seems to gradually creep in, other times it rears its ugly head seemingly out of nowhere. The beast I am describing is Entitlement. Subtle hints of it can become entrenched patterns, and we recognize it in our children or teens when they start to :

 

Babysitting can help curb a sense of entitlement in children.

  • have a constant desire for more or better things
  • show little gratitude for the things they have
  • expect something in return for good behavior
  • demonstrate an air of being above the rules
  • show a reduced ability to recognize or consider other’s needs
  • fail to take ownership when things go wrong

 

Entitlement, or the belief that one is deserving of preferences and resources while others are not, will almost certainly develop when we excessively give our kids the things they want, when they want it. But I believe it can also creep into our kids through our well-intentioned attempts to equip them for the academic, social, and extra-curricular pressures and competition they face, pouring extraordinary amounts of the family’s time and financial resources into helping our children compete and excel (or sometimes merely ‘keep up’ or ‘catch up’) in these areas of growth and pursuits.

 

We can hardly blame our kids when the world starts to seem as if it revolves around them.

 

Besides taking care not to indulge our children’s every whim, an obvious strategy to combat entitlement, or to head it off preventively, is to hold our children accountable for reciprocating what is given to them by in turn requiring them to give back to the family through willing participation in family culture and activities, and through chores and other means of helping to meet the family’s practical needs. It can also increasingly take the form of expecting our kids to make meaningful financial contributions to their own clothes, activities, etc.

These expectations give our children a powerful reality check on the labor and resources truly required to support healthy families, functioning homes, and the standard of living they have come to expect and enjoy.

 

Babysitting creates a sense of appreciation for adult taks and a work ethic in children.

Virtually any chore or job, paid or unpaid, will begin to build a work ethic and appreciation in our children and can play a role in steering off the dreaded sense of entitlement. I want to devote this article, however, to exploring the particularly unique power of babysitting, in all its various forms, to take our kids and teens outside of their own selves and their inward focus on their swirling desires and needs, and to begin to grow an outward empathy and responsibility.

 

I consulted three Clapham students of varying ages and babysitting experience to get their perspectives on how they have grown through their babysitting work, and their honest insight and pearls of wisdom far surpass anything I could wax on about regarding this theme! Here is much of what they shared:

 

Ellie Stiernagle, Class 6

Sixth Grader Ellie loves to babysit.

What do you enjoy most about babysitting?

I really enjoy learning, while just going along with the kids. You live their everyday life and watch how he grows. I really enjoy watching him grow...it’s really fun when we go to the park and play in the sand!

 

How has babysitting changed you? In what ways have you grown through babysitting?

It definitely has helped! I’ve learned how to change a diaper and act more mature.

 

 

What are some of the challenges of babysitting, and how do you work through them?

Getting him to be obedient! The way I fix it is with food. 😀. You always have to keep them entertained. Kids are never really patient. You always have to work really hard to keep them entertained, because their attention is short.

 

 

Priscilla Logan, Class 11

Priscilla thinks babysitting prepares you for real life.

What do you enjoy most about babysitting?

It’s good practice for being a mom! You get to enjoy the best in kids, without having to discipline them too much!

 

What are some of the challenges of babysitting, and how do you work through them?

Practically speaking, I watch three boys: 4 years, 2 years, and a baby. You can’t watch them all at once! Also, some things you can’t do as a babysitter you can do as a mom, like it can be the kids’ power vs. your power. It could be hard if the kids aren’t respectful, although all the moms have been really helpful with this!

 

Also, I clean their house, if all their kids are sleeping. Changing a diaper, things like that, not the funnest thing! There are ups and downs. It’s more real than some of the other jobs like working at a fast food place. You’re working with kids and learn that they are people too and to treat them in that way!

 

What are some of the benefits unique to babysitting? How have you grown through babysitting?

I’ve learned to appreciate people who care for children. I just learn to appreciate that it is a hard job, and I’m glad that I can help. Also, I’ve gained an appreciation for mothers in general. Also, that what you say to a kid is really important. Interacting with kids a lot makes me think back to when someone older than me said something to me that really stuck. It matters.

 

Allison Dumper, Class 11
babysit Allison

What do you enjoy most about babysitting?

A lot of things! One of the things I most enjoy though is purely the relationship. I really enjoy spending time with younger kids and part of that is just their honesty and just the way they approach things... kids have a lot of things they can teach us!

 

For example, this summer, we would go out and play football for an hour every day, and every day, the excitement stays with them even though we did the same thing every day! It’s just really cool to see in them.

 

What are some of the challenges of babysitting, and how do you work through them?

I would say that for me one of the challenges that I see most often when interacting with the actual kids is it is hard to get yourself onto their level, that instance with playing football... sometimes I thought, I’m done with playing football! It’s 90 degrees and can we just go inside? But you don’t, you keep playing, because they’re still excited. When we’re with kids we have to get in their mindset and to be able to see and relate to them. That can be really challenging especially when you have your own things going on in your own real world. You have to be able to stop thinking about it and enter into it with the kids; otherwise it is pointless to be there with them. It isn’t just watching kids but getting to know them on a more personal level. It’s not just that I’m an authority over you because your mom’s not here.

 

I have to stop and let go of problems I’m bringing into it and be really present. In high school that can be really hard, because you have a lot of things going on.

 

What are some of the benefits unique to babysitting? How have you grown through babysitting?

I think there’s actually a lot. When you work with kids, whether babysitting or being a parent, you get to see things through their eyes. Kids are ridiculously receptive of things. It is amazing just how much they pick up on - your tone and your emotions and things they are in tune with. Just being around them helps you to realize there are things we have lost sight of and lost touch with as we grow older. Also, just growing in love!

 

Sometimes it’s really frustrating: you’re trying to do something and they don’t understand and you don’t understand why they don’t understand. It teaches you a better way of loving them, and you definitely grow in patience. Kids learn things in different ways. It just emphasizes the whole point that you have to step outside of yourself and teach the way they each learn.

 

Babysitting overall is just viewed as people coming to watch your kids, but I think that it is important to have that relationship and build it up so when you come to those difficult times you know the kids and how they process and it makes it easier. You can’t know this if you haven’t spent time learning and investing.

 

Babysitting forces children out of their own self-centeredness.

 

Wow! Some very powerful themes emerged from these interviews! Notably:

 

  1. Caring for younger children forces you entirely out of your own self-centered orientation! Babysitting requires you to set aside your own thoughts, worries and needs and be completely present, entering into the child's world through their eyes! Doing this takes a TON of patience and hard work, but the payoff is huge! Seeing the joy and building a relationship with these little, but very REAL people is so intrinsically rewarding!
  2. The act of caring for younger children builds a sense of appreciation and gratitude toward the adults in their own lives, including parents!

 

The benefits of babysitting are within reach for children, tweens, preteens and teens (boys as well as girls!) of all ages. Kids can be entrusted with the care of younger siblings, playing with them while mom gets a few other chores done. Tweens can begin to work as mother’s helpers for neighbors and friends, or they can volunteer in a church nursery. Counselor-in-training programs are another great option! Get creative and find opportunities to expose your kids and teens to the intrinsically-rewarding, others-focused experience of caring for younger children, and watch them grow in appreciation, responsibility, empathy, and maturity, things that send the entitlement beast running!  

 

Share a comment below on how your family is working to counteract a sense of entitlement in your children's lives.

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Topics: Parent Articles, gratitude, Teens, Values