The term Cornucopia Kids was coined by psychologist Bruce A. Baldwin
in the mid-eighties to refer to children who grow up in homes where
the good life is available for the asking, and where no personal
effort is required.
Fifteen years later the situation can only be described as even
worse. Children in the year 2000 have an unprecedented amount of
stuff combined with little or no responsibility for acquiring it,
caring for it or replacing it.
The Danger Zone
Do you suspect your child may be in the danger zone? Here are some
-On an outing to the mall, you buy your two-year-old
some candy or a toy as a payoff to keep her from crying.
-Your preschooler has already been on a cruise or stayed at an
-Your middle school daughter regularly gets her nails done.
-There's never a quiet moment in your home because the television or
stereo are always on, and a battle ensues if you try to turn them off.
-Your child has a Who Cares? attitude about the problems and needs of
others because he's self centered and downright selfish.
-The new bike your son got for his birthday was left out in the rain
the very first day. This is the samechild who routinely loses
critical pieces to puzzles and games. He does these things because
he's learned that what's lost or broken will be magically replaced.
-At a very early age your child began a collection of dolls, stuffed
animals or action figures, and you feel it's your responsibility to
support the collection by buying up every new one that comes out. You
convince yourself that it's an investment.
-Your child always has unearned money to spend because you freely
give advances on allowance, and her allowance is usually spent by mid-week.
-Your present-oriented child is concerned only with the pleasures of
today. Things come his way without effort, so he sees no need to set
goals or plan ahead.
-You personally do without new towels or a trip to the hairdresser to
buy your child an outrageously prices pair of jeans, sneakers or prom dress.
Change Your Cornucopia Kid
Even as late as the teen years it's possible to reform a cornucopia
kid. Here are some immediate steps parents can take:
-Give age-appropriate work responsibilities beginning in the
preschool years. A 2-year-old can put his pajamas away and pick up
his toys. A 4-year-old can help load the dishwasher.
-Don't give too many freebies. Getting too much for too little effort
diminishes motivation. Create the link for your child between effort
and reward. When your child demands something you can't afford, don't
hesitate to say: We can't afford it!
-Limit TV time. Relying on external stimulation to entertain
suppresses the imagination. Active learners are found on their bikes,
on the playground or in the library, not glued to the television.
-Simplify birthdays and holidays. Limit the number of gifts your
child receives. Put the emphasis on experiencing activities together
such as a trip to a water park or planetarium.
-Teach your child to share with others. Help him go through his
closet to choose outgrown clothes and no longer used toys to pass on
to another child. A good practice is to let go of something old
before something new is acquired, for example, just before something
new is acquired, for example, just before Christmas or Hanukkah. With
a strategy, some determination, and little bit of luck, you can
corral your cornucopia kid!
Written by: Lauren Bradway, Ph.D., Neptune Beach, FL, USA