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How to Combat Apathy in Kids--and Grow Closer to Your Child in the Bargain

Posted by Dale Sadler

Apathy in our children is one of our worst nightmares as parents. We worry that our kids will end up living in the basement, working at a mediocre part-time job and playing video games at the age of 30, without any real drive or passion to speak of. How do you get your child to care? How do you get them to see that there is more to life than what they get from electronics? How do you develop the drive to work hard, tear past the competition and succeed?

First, discover what your child is passionate about.  Where might it take him in the future? If your son is totally engrossed in potato chips and television, do not expect him to be a star athlete or much less have any level of ambition. Does your little girl watch a lot of Disney? There are lots of cool shows but many of them focus on clothes and physical appearance. While we all want our daughters to feel good about themselves, we do not want them to focus entirely on their outward appearance. Find out what your child’s major interests are. If they do not promise a better life now and in the future, work to modify their activity. Furthermore, if your child’s activities are promising, capitalize on this.

Second, let’s say your child has no interests or at least none that will help him grow into a productive member of society. What should you do? Well, what are your interests? What makes you come to life? Try to involve your child in that. How can he be a part of your activity? How can you make her feel an important part of your weekend? While they might scare the fish away or drop the wrench into the oil pan, think of these moments as more about being with your kids and less about getting the job done. Now might also be a time for you to start a new hobby or a family hobby if you do not have one. Camping is one of the best. When you put a child into a new environment, it forces him and you to adapt. You will be surprised at the conversations and memories that will be shared.

Third, start in the years before they are teens with whatever direction you want to go with your child. While they are young, you can pretty much say, “Son, we are doing this on Saturday.” Hopefully, if it looks even the least bit exciting, he will jump on board. Dr. Leonard Sax in his book, Girls on the Edge, discusses how you your child will comply with your requests until they learn to have a will of their own. (This usually happens in middle school.)

Finally, the small stuff adds up to be the big stuff. If you are not happy with your child’s habits, help him develop better ones. He will not know exactly what to do when he brushes his teeth, puts away the dishes, or eats at the dinner table. It is the job of the parents to help their children develop habits that will bring about a lifetime of success.


About Dale Sadler

Dale Sadler is the author of 28 Days to A Better Marriage and How to Argue with Your Teen & Win. By day he works with middle schoolers and by night he is a family counselor specializing in marriage, parenting and men's issues. He works hard to be the husband and father his family needs. Follow him @DaleSadlerLPC or visit

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