Someone commented to me (about our recent changes in daily structure):
I think this is a little simplistic. I agree that life is not all fun and games. However, my approach has been to try to help my kids look beyond immediate wants to more abstract wants. For instance, Noah wants to be able to play Beethoven, Dvorak and Schubert string quartets, to get the thrill of performing those great works, to experience the joy of working with others on that common goal. Those are abstract, long-term goals. In order to have those ‘wants’ satisfied, that means practicing scales and studies on the viola today, and tomorrow, and every day. And that may not be intrinsically enjoyable. But does he want to become a better viola player? And does he recognize that this is part of that process? Yes! And so it’s no hardship to motivate himself to do the daily scales and studies. He has made the connection and he actually wants to do his practicing even if he doesn’t always feel like doing it.
So rather than saying “sometimes we have to do stuff we don’t want to” I prefer to say “sometimes we have to do stuff we don’t feel like doing because it gets us stuff we really want.” I think that’s a much healthier long-lasting message to get, because ultimately it facilitates self-regulation and doesn’t rely on other people setting rules for us.
Helping kids forge those connections between immediate action and big-picture wants is one of the most difficult parenting tasks, I think. My kids definitely want more balanced lives; they want to be healthy, helpful, good people with strong relationships. They’re just not yet always naturals at connecting their immediate actions to those bigger-picture goals. I think that they needed a little remedial teaching in this respect — someone to forcefully point their gaze at those longer-term goals, and give them a little experience with the habits of behaviour that serve those goals, so that they can re-affirm the connection between them — and strengthen it within themselves.
At least that’s what I’m trying to do. Time will tell.