Marshmallows II: Swimming Against the Tide



Last week I introduced a new book, No: Why Kids of All Ages Need to Hear It by Dr. David Walsh. His basic thesis is that we need to help our children develop the important character traits of self discipline and self control by using the word “no” from time to time. If our children are always getting what they want instantly they will not develop the patience, perseverance, and commitment needed to become successful when life gets tough.

Walsh states in the book, “If our kids can’t delay gratification, rein in their drive for pleasure, handle setbacks, put other people’s needs on par with their own, and manage their emotions, they reduce the likelihood of creating a happy, productive life for themselves (pg 36).

Part of the problem is that our culture (western) has become obsessed with instant gratification. Adults are having a harder time saying no to their kids today because we are swimming in a “Yes” culture where “No” has become a four letter word. A big part of the “yes” culture has come from the fact that our kids spend more time learning about life through electronic media than any other activity.

Unfortunately what comes along with the electronic media is a constant barrage of advertising which is telling children that they need something more and that they need it now. There are three overriding themes that are pushed by the “Yes” culture of today: More, Fast, and Easy/Fun (pg 30). It is not hard to find statistics that show the affect that this is having on our children.

  • Children today spend 500% more than their parents did at the same age – and yes that is adjusted for inflation. (pg 16)
  • The average college student today has four credit cards and more than three thousand dollars in credit card debt. (pg 16)

So what does all this mean, do we purposefully make it hard on our children by always saying no to them? No, of course not, but if all our children are ever hearing is yes we may be doing them an incredible injustice. It is definitely harder for parents to say no today and if it seems like you are swimming against the tide when you try to teach your children self control and self discipline, it’s because you are.

But don’t give up and give in to the culture because even though it may be very hard at times your willingness to occasionally say no will give your children the tools needed to become successful in this ever changing and difficult world.

Next week we will flesh this out a little bit more by talking about a specific way that “no” can have a dramatic impact on how well our children learn at school – sleep.


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Dalat Director

Karl Steinkamp is passionate about Dalat International School and training up young people to make a positive impact on their world, walk with integrity, and follow Christ. Karl was a student at Dalat and returned with a degree in education as a student teacher, high school principal, and now Dalat Director since 2006.

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