How to Raise a Kid No One Likes…

You avoid them at work.
You get stuck talking to them at parties.
They dated your best friend’s roommate.

These are the adults that no one likes.

How did they become so self-centered, obnoxious, and just plain awful?
What happened in their formative years that created these “unlikeables”?  What could their parents have done differently to help mold a more likeable human?

Here are 6 excellent ways to raise a kid no one likes.

Always let you child interrupt conversation. They really are the most important person in the room.
Always give your child whatever they want as soon as they demand it!
Always say “Yes” to your children.  Stop being a big meanie!
Always do everything for your child. That’s your job as a parent! (Science fair projects are hard!!) Make life easy for your kids!
Always let your children get away with poor manners or none at all. They will learn those when they are adults, now is the time to be kids.
Always let your kids play. Hard work and chores are for adults!

While an argument could be made that doing the above ‘Sins of Parenting’ is a form of child abuse, it will at the very least create an ill-equipped adult that no one likes.

Here are some better tips to raise polite, hard working, confident kids that people will like and respect.

Do not let your child interrupt conversation (unless Timmy is trapped in a well or on fire).
When you let your child interrupt, the message sent is that they really are the most important person in the room and what they want is more important than anything else.  Unfortunately, some parents were raised in a “children should be seen and not heard” household and want to do the exact opposite, so the world comes to a complete stop, and we all hang on whatever little self-centered Jenny Diva wants to say. Kids need to learn that they are important, but not always the most important person; you are unique, just like everybody else.
RESULT: Your child can learn to read social cues, assess body language, and basically recognize two people that are in a conversation, and then WAIT! No one likes to be interrupted…

Just wait!
Teaching kids to wait and be patient is critical. Kids constantly ask for things; toys, water, more bread.  Sadly, we help create impulsive, now-now-now-‘Me-First’-instant-gratification junkies by jumping when they say jump. Instead, “You want that toy? Let’s think about that over night, and maybe if you still want it a week from now, perhaps save your birthday money for it…”
RESULT: Patient kids are able to wait their turn and also look past the short term.

Saying ‘NO’ is a good thing.
As parents, our job is to set healthy boundaries and encourage kids to think critically. Kids come up with cockamamie ideas all the time; that’s their job, to explore and push boundaries in order to learn. Our job is to say NO to a large percentage of those ridiculous ideas or ask why? Remember, they are the playground, we are the fence, keeping them safe. Parents often complain that they are always saying “No” to their kids – GOOD! You are not a big meanie, you are a parent. Spineless, jellyfish parents can unwittingly create a chaotic world for their kids with no limits or expectations.

RESULT: Children that understand their role, (they are not the alpha, running this place) by saying ‘no’, we are creating boundaries and expectations for our children’s behaviour. A 70/30 split of No/Yes will make them appreciate the “Yes” even more!

Never do for a child what they can do for themselves.
It’s one of the Golden Rules of parenting… “May I please have a drink of water daddy?”
“Yes, help yourself – you know where the glasses are and where the tap is.”
In the kid’s hockey dressing room, I don’t dress my nine and seven year old, they can do that themselves. While it might be slower than the other kids (whose irritated parents are dressing them), it’s teaching them to be responsible – they will only forget their jock once (natural consequences are awesome). I will continue to tie skates until they are strong enough to do it themselves. If you are doing everything for your child, the message sent it that they are not competent at anything and other people will need to take care of them. Many men leave the comfy confines of momma’s house only to search for another woman to look after them… is that what you want for your kids?
RESULT: Empowered children that can solve kid sized problems.

Good manners never go out of style.
“May I please…”
“Excuse me…”
“Thank you so much for the…”
Parents often feel like we are constantly on our kids about their manners, but you have to be, until it becomes a wonderful habit. Learning simple human life skills early is critical to being a likeable adult; achieving and maintaining eye contact, asking good questions, learning how to meet people and shake hands, practicing 2 way conversations.
RESULT: Polite people are more respected and liked.

Teach the kids what hard work looks like.
Finally, a common complaint about today’s young people is that they are lazy and have a huge sense of entitlement. While that might be true, how do you change that now? Kids need to understand that life is not a free ride and that you pitch in around the house. We don’t pay kids for doing house chores, forget that. You live here, you do your share. Make beds, take out garbage, pick up dog poop, many hands make for light work. No one pays me for cutting the grass or folding laundry (that’s why I hate it).
We had our kids picking rocks and weeds all summer. As soon as any bickering session would start between them, out came the weeds. The complaints of “I’m bored” and “Why is my IPOD not on the charger?” ended quickly. They were grateful for their free time and felt a sense of accomplishment. Who will be there to pat them on the back for completing their daily occupational tasks at work? Best answer – no one – they can do it themselves.
RESULT: Kids with good work habits turn into adults with a strong work ethic. Focus on the effort that brings results.

* A Bonus point *
Eat what’s on your plate, we ain’t running a restaurant here.
Parents allow picky eaters to evolve. Make one healthy meal, not chicken stir-fry for the adults and then hotdogs for the kids. You are not raising a prince, a princess, or Kardashian. Clean off your plate and then clean up your plate. We, as your parents, are not your personal servants or waiters. These food divas grow up to be picky about everything and are always the ones to order off the menu and change the chef’s specials (and you know what chef’s do to ALL of your orders when you dine with a diva…)

FINAL POINTS — Obviously, no parent sets out to raise a child to become an unlikeable adult, but it happens. There can be hundreds of reasons why an adult behaves the way they do, but I’m guessing somewhere in their life experience,  they needed some additional guidance, better examples or some tough love.

If we are truly raising someone else’s husband or wife, then we don’t want to have to apologize to those poor unfortunate souls 20 years from now. If only we had done things differently, “Pat” wouldn’t be such an unsociable narcissistic jerk… Pat would think about other people and consider their feeling or points of view.

Are we unintentionally enabling our kids to be self-centered? Being self-centered is an early life stage, but it should be just that, a stage you enter and then you leave. Kids that never develop empathy, patience, or compassion will have a tough time as adults. The reality is that likeable adults that have ambition and drive, are the ones getting promoted and generally living a happier, more fulfilling life.

As parents ourselves, we are constantly struggling between wanting to help our children but also letting them sprout their wings (and fail sometimes). We can make their lives easier, not by doing everything for them, but by supporting and letting them live it – experience the highs and lows together.

What have I missed? What else do parents do or not do that creates unlikeable children? Looking forward to your comments!

Until next time…