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Expert says new generation wants instant gratification. Are parents to blame?

You've heard that 40 is the new 30. And 30 is the new 20. Now, a behavior expert says 26 may be the new 18. In his opinion, children born between 1984 and 2002 have grown up in an age of instant gratification.

Dr. Tim Elmore, founder of Growing Leaders, says parents are going on job interviews with their children, and calling professors over their child's bad grade.

He calls them generation Y and iY. So, how do you fix it? He says you have to let your children fail sometimes.

Mackenzie Wilson is a molecular biology senior with dreams of becoming a doctor. Her parents gave her the same speech so many others get before entering college. "My parents always told me that I could do anything I set my mind to," said Wilson.

But they didn't stop there. "They warned me and were right when they said it would be difficult. So they just prepared me by being real and by saying that it would be a struggle," she said.

Struggle. Elmore says it's something children have to experience.. "I talk about the struggle that a butterfly must go through to get out of its cocoon in order to fly. I think we've opened up that cocoon to help the little fella get out. And unbeknownst to us, we've removed the very strengths he needs to fly," said Elmore.

He also says children between age 10 to 28 have grown up in a "trophy generation." Everyone is a winner. Everyone get's a prize. "If we give them the illusion that they're special and awesome, I understand that. But they're going to go to college with a bunch of other special and awesome kids," he said.

Adjunct professor , Lauren Whit, says that can lead to a sense of entitlement.

"We have college students who have been raised by expert business people and it has{} been communicated to them that you can talk your way into a better place in life," she said.

The result? Elmore says there's a flood of college grads who aren't prepared to enter the workforce, or step up as leaders

So how do we reverse the cycle?"Life is ten percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we react to it. We're trying to teach a good reaction to disappointing things," said Brian Shoop, UAB's head baseball coach.

Shoop used one of Elmore's leadership building tools called "Habitudes". It's a series of pictures and words used to spark conversation about leadership. "The first picture they saw was an iceberg where only the tip was showing but the mass of the iceberg you couldn't see. The moral was that people can see your athletic ability, but they cant see your character. The focus is on how we look and how we perform for the world to see. But what's really happening in the lives and souls of our young people," said Shoop.

Elmore says, similar to sports, children and young adults can be taught to focus less on the "highlights" of life, and more on the "drills and practice" it took to make those highlights.

He says we're at a point where people are experiencing quarter life crisis around age 25, instead of a mid-life crisis. He says they're depressed because they feel like they should have made their first million by age 25.

Elmore says parents and teachers can work together to change this way of thinking.

For more information on Tim Elmore and "Habitudes" visit www.growingleaders.com

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