Durian Generation: How not to raise a brat
What exactly is the “Durian Generation” of youngsters and what are their unpleasant traits? More importantly, how do you raise your child not to fall into that prickly category and be branded as a spoiled brat?
Have you heard of the new generation of youngsters in Singapore (not so affectionately) dubbed the “Durian Generation”?
This label refers to kids who are obnoxious, self-entitled, yet soft on the inside and unable to fend for themselves, so rely on their sharp and thorny exterior – their parents – to protect them.
The old-fashioned term for this is simply to call the children brats who are spoiled rotten by their overprotective parents.
But what makes this Durian Generation different from your garden variety brat? And how do you as a parent avoid raising your child to become one?
It is a part of a young child’s development to assert their independence by saying “no”, and it is also normal for them to whine or grumble sometimes – because adults do it too!
Toddlers (between the age of one and three years old) are also prone to temper tantrums, which is all part of normal development.
But if your child is constantly whining to get what he wants, is rude to you and other adults, acts bossy, has a horrible outburst when you won’t give him that new toy he’s been eyeing, then you may have a spoiled child on your hands.
Another warning sign that your child might be a brat is if he is way past the toddler years yet continues to act like one by kicking, screaming, biting other children and not using age-appropriate ways of communicating his thoughts or feelings.
Parents of the Durian Generation will often treat their children as if they are much younger than they actually are. They will be quick to come to their rescue instead of allowing them to resolve problems on their own.
They might even think that their child’s negative behaviour – such as being rude to adults, being aggressive towards other children, acting bossy and demanding – is actually “cute”. And they will just sit back and smile as their little one continues with his unpleasant display.
There is a difference between showing your affection to your child and overindulging them by giving in to their every whim.
You might be spoiling your child if you:
- Don’t set age-appropriate boundaries
- Easily give in and let him have his way instead of enforcing limits
- Let him regularly interrupt and take over adult conversations
- Constantly buy toys and other treats just to pacify him and avoid tantrums
- Allow him to set the rules
- Do not correct him when he is rude or aggressive towards others
- Make excuses for his misbehaving and blame others instead
Of course some parents think that their child can do no wrong and feel defensive if someone points out their flaws. But it is not healthy nor is it helpful if a child’s parents constantly shield him from the real world and allow him to get his way all the time.
A spoiled child has never had the chance to handle disappointment at an early age. Lessons that they should learn as toddlers, such as delaying gratification and acting within limits, are behaviours they will carry into adulthood.
So what exactly is the difference between raising a spoiled child and raising a brat from the Durian Generation?
Parents who act as their children’s “thorny husks” are so protective of their children to the point of molly-coddling them, allowing them to get away with atrocious behaviour towards others, or deflecting responsibility for their poor choices.
One example is the recent case of a 10-year-old boy who was admitted into the hospital when some dry ice he had purchased from a local ice-cream seller exploded in his hands after an experiment gone wrong.
Although it was an unfortunate incident, some netizens disagreed with the statement of the boy’s father when he said he was not angry with his son and his friends for their mischievous behaviour. Instead, he blamed the ice cream vendor for selling the dry ice to a child in the first place.
Some may feel that the ice cream vendor was partly to blame. But is it right for the father of the boy not to see that his son also played a part in this accident? What will the child learn from this incident? That the reason he was injured was due to the fault of someone else and not his own poor judgement?
Parents of the Durian Generation are quick to defend their child and blame others for everything. Instead of allowing the child to accept responsibility for his own actions, they face the consequences themselves.
In a recent poll conducted among 250 Singaporean parents, 95% of them regret spending too much time working during their children’s early years.
So it is possible that some parents may feel the need to compensate for their absence by overindulging their child. When they do get to spend some time together, they allow him to get away with anything, so as to avoid “ruining” what little time they have together.
Some parents also might make the mistake of offering their child too much help. They are quick to jump in to fix his problems instead of encouraging him to do things for himself. This spoils the child because he will rely on his parents for everything and be unable to do things on his own.
There are also parents who want to give their child everything they never had growing up. So they somehow end up replacing quality time, physical contact, and bonding activities with materialist things instead. Or they don’t want their child to feel “left out” if they don’t have the latest toy or gadget that everyone else does.
Then there are those who always brush off their child’s misbehaviour with the excuse that, “He is just a child.” That is fine for a two-year-old who is asserting his own independence, but not so for a 10-year-old who should know better.
If parents don’t set age-appropriate boundaries for their children – even as toddlers – they will never learn what their limits are.
Here’s what you can do as a parent to nip the problem in the bud:
Set age-appropriate boundaries
Depending on your child’s age, there should be some rules established so that he will know when not to cross the line.
For toddlers, it is better to stick to three or four non-negotiable rules such as, no hitting, no biting other people, clean up your toys after you play, etc. It might be overwhelming if there are too many rules.
There’s no point setting rules if you are not consistently applying them. So if you’ve told your child that there will be consequences to their behaviour, but you allow them to continue with what they are doing, they will never learn to take you seriously nor respect the boundaries.
If your child is old enough to understand, it’s a good idea to sit them down and talk openly about their behaviour. If they did something you did not approve of, you should pull them aside and tell them immediately.
It also helps to let them know beforehand what is expected of them, for example if you are bringing them to the library, you should gently remind them to be quiet, not to run around or play catch, and not to tear out pages of the books there.
Let them make mistakes and face disappointment
If parents are quick to swoop in and rescue their child from making any mistakes, then it may just set them up for failure later on in life.
You might think that coddling your child is helping his self-esteem. But by shielding him from disappointments in life and over-praising him for every tiny achievement, you will reduce his desire to put in any effort. It also affects his ability to self-regulate because he won’t be given the chance to challenge himself.
There is nothing wrong with coming to your child’s defence or showering him with gifts. But you will actually be doing more harm than good if you hand him the world on a silver platter.
Let’s turn the Durian Generation into sweet and respectful children on the inside, who are strong and tough enough on the outside to face challenges, and fend for themselves. They will realise that sometimes life just isn’t fair, but that’s ok.
What are views on this new Durian Generation of youngsters? Are parents really at fault for raising spoiled children? Leave your comments below!