Managing millennials

As adults we all think back to our childhood as being much harder than that of our children today; ‘they’ve never had it so good’ we say. Just this week my daughter has been unwell (which is very unusual for her) and I reflected with a colleague on our own parents’ approach to our childhood sicknesses. There was a distinct lack of sympathy, it seemed, in the ‘70s and ‘80s when I was growing up. If you could breathe, or so it seemed in our house, you were fit to go to school. I am not suggesting that this was the best way to bring up a child – but it certainly made us value things a little more and accept disappointment better than many children growing up today.

But with the benefits of modern life come challenges, and we know from psychologists that saying yes to our children at all times is not good for them. We also know that if we do not manage our children’s expectations and behaviour then we are setting them up for difficulties in the work place and issues with self-esteem in the teenage years.

Simon Sinek makes us think carefully about the impact of technology on the development of our children’s relationships and the challenges that they face in this short video which really touched a chord for me:

The impact of technology is stark – and it is frightening to think that some of our children are using social media as a way to find instant gratification and to form ‘relationships’ with people that they don’t know.  Simon’s message about the importance of taking time to develop and work towards the things that are really valuable in life is clear and something that as parents and teachers I think we need to really take on board.

We work hard at school to help your sons and daughters to recognise the value of hard work and to teach them the real joy of long term satisfaction, from committing to something really worthwhile, rather than the short term gratification that comes from their fast paced lives in which many things come easily for them.  Through our policies and practices in school we encourage them to value technology as a learning tool and to recognise that there is a time and place for them to use their mobile devices – and a time when they should be locked away in their lockers.

I hope that this approach helps all the boys and girls to be rather more self-disciplined and committed than some of the millennials that Simon Sinek refers to, but still we know that there are youngsters, sadly, who struggle with making the right choices and who become negatively affected by the life that they are born into.  I encourage you to watch this video with your children (having left your mobile devices in another room beforehand) and discuss the issues with them.  Consider how, as a family, you might put technology in its place and keep it out of your children’s bedrooms; make their phones and screens a treat rather than a right to have all the time.  Help them to manage the way that they interact with others online and, perhaps more importantly, encourage them to work hard for things that matter, like practising their music, learning to perfect a new skill in their favourite sport, applying themselves hard to reading that challenging novel, or perhaps engaging more in a simple conversation and exchange of ideas at the dinner table.

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