The kids exiting high school today belong to Generation Z, and were primarily raised by Gen X parents. Right between them are the Millennials. Who are their children?
Meet Generation Alpha.
Generation Alpha is defined as all people born between 2010 and 2025. Besides the awesome name, Gen Alpha kids will tend to strongly share certain attributes due to the world they grow up in.
As parents we want our children to be successful. One of the best ways to be successful is to stand out from the masses, to move in a different direction, to possess those rare strengths the average person has not developed.
Here are a few areas that Gen Alpha kids can be trained and encouraged to stand out from their peers.
Millennials saw the transition from an analog world to a digital one. Gen Z kids are the first to be born into a pervasively digital world, but their Gen X parents remember how it used to be.
Gen Alpha kids will be even more saturated with digital connections from early youth than the slightly older Gen Z.
While digital connection provides unmistakable benefits, the ability to function well without a connection provides benefits too. Not only is it psychologically beneficial to separate from the internet, disconnection requires and develops problem-solving abilities that the perennially-connected will never nurture.
The Generation Alpha kid who grows up knowing how to find information, solve problems, and amuse himself without needing a connection will possess mental tools and psychological outlook that the mass of his peers do not. He will be like a sprinter in a sea of mopeds.
While every child and family is different, intentionally building a childhood with minimal electronics and lots of freestyle play outdoors will go a long way towards the development of disconnection skills.
All children want instant gratification and we recent generations are often accused of turning it into an art form. None-the-less, the children of Gen Alpha will tend to display more selfishness and a desire for instant gratification simply because more of them will be only children than in previous generations.
Raising a child in a way that teaches delayed gratification is a problem that has dogged us since the beginning of time. Who among us doesn’t want everything now? A mind that grows up expecting instant gratification results in a lifetime of aiming low and refusing responsibility.
Delayed gratification is the result of focus, patience, and persistent work. The boy who learns delayed gratification will be more likely to work for long-term benefits instead of making short-term trade-offs.
Parents with several children will tend to teach delayed gratification simply because they do not have the resources to satisfy every want immediately. Parents of only children will need to be intentional in teaching this perspective.
Another consequence of large numbers of only children is that Gen Alpha kids will grow up receiving more praise and affirmation than previous generations. This is not a bad thing in itself, but children raised on lots of praise may be less likely to develop internal motivation.
The externally motivated child will be more likely to follow peer and mass movements without critical examination, and is probably more susceptible to the pressures of hierarchy. The externally motivated child will find it more difficult to know himself because he has spent his time trying to please others.
The child with strong internal motivation will naturally seek his own way and find little value in agreement for agreement’s sake. He will see things that others miss and feel comfortable pursuing those courses of action that put him alone. He will be more difficult at times but the final effect is a strong adult.
Don’t keep your child always amused or satisfy his curiosity too quickly. When he strikes out on his own encourage it not only with praise but with leading questions to encourage exploration. Don’t be to quick to reward conformity.
Society and the economy have strong tendencies to instill certain behaviors. Your Gen Alpha children will almost certainly drift with the current unless you build and maintain a childhood that stands apart.
Doing so is a lot of work, but the benefits for your children are worth it.
As with most skills, the most effective way of teaching is by demonstration. Live the life you want your children to lead.
Most of this information was based on an article in Forbes entitled “The Complete Guide to Generation Alpha, The Children of Millennials.” While the article has a strong financial focus due to its origin the general information presented is thought-provoking and valuable to the young father.