10-year-olds are too coddled in this country

Ramit Sethi

Is it just me, or are people are too coddled in this country?

I heard this 10-year-old kid order a “truffle burger” the other day. I didn’t even know that word until 3 years ago.

I saw another kid YELLING at his mom in the grocery store. I just thought what my parents would have done if I’d ever done something like that.

I see kids being told “Good job!” for getting an 87% on a test.



So I started thinking, why are kids so soft these days?

Could we perhaps look at…ourselves?

After all, we’re the adults these kids are learning from.

The same ones who watch Food Network, just to watch it…but never actually cook the meals!

The same ones who dream about starting a business, and watch Shark Tank and read blog after blog…but never actually do anything about it!

The same ones who say “I’m gonna try to cut back on carbs this month…”

TRY? A few years ago, on my parents’ anniversary, I called them and asked how they got to 31 years of marriage. My mom said something super interesting:

“You just don’t give yourself any choices,” she said. “You’re in it forever and you know that going in.”

You don’t try. You just decide to do it, no matter what.

It’s almost like we’ve created a whole culture where we’re judged on what you aspire to, not what you’ve actually accomplished.

In my life, one of the first things I learned about living a Richer Life was taking a honest look at what I SAID vs. what I actually DID.

I said I wanted to be flying around on jets, earning money while I was sleeping, helping millions of people using psychology….but I wasn’t taking any steps that would actually get me there.

I would look at guys with cooler clothes than me and say, “I wish I could dress like that” — then do NOTHING to learn how to dress better.

I would see guys who were more built than I was — lean, more muscles — and not only would I do nothing, I actually said, “I could never look like that.” I literally told myself what I COULDN’T do instead of what I WANTED for myself.

Eventually I realized I could sit around and watch TV shows, read magazines, and dream about living the life…or I could actually do something.

Ironically, when I started taking small steps (eventually leading to bigger steps and a more successful business), I actually started living a cooler life than the one I used to dream about.

But I never would have imagined that 5 or 10 years ago.

* * *

I wanted to create a Rich Life for myself. A Rich Life isn’t just about money, btw. It’s about giving yourself the chance to try new things — whenever you want.

For example, take a look at this random whiskey tasting I did last Wednesday:

wineglassWhiskey tasting last Wednesday night in Manhattan


You guys want to do this together?

To start building a Rich Life together — whatever that definition means for you?

To give yourself the ability to travel, or work less, or even work more if you love what you do?

I want to do it with you. Starting Wednesday, I’m going to share a new series on how to actually get the things we say we want.

For example, a few months ago, I took a last-minute trip to Singapore and posted a pic eating chili crab. Some guy on Instagram said, “Wow, must be nice, I’d love to take a last-minute trip to Asia.” I want to show you how.

You want to be able to hire a personal trainer or pay someone to clean your apartment? No problem.

No more fantasizing. No more trying.

Let’s actually do it.

So, leave a comment below if you’re excited. Comment if you know what a Rich Life means to you. Comment if you have questions you want me to answer about starting a business. Shit, comment if you hate me! I don’t give a damn. I love hearing from you, top performers, weirdos, and nutcases alike.


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  1. Mark

    Living a rich life to me means being able to say no. Being able to say no to jobs I don’t want and clients I don’t want.

    On the flip side, it means being able to say yes to the few select people I can help out and fully focusing on them!

  2. William Cosentino

    I think the word coddled is way too nice of a word. It’s more like spoiled f-in rotten! Some of the behavior is disgusting and parents just play it off like no big deal. But your point is correct and I agree 110%.

    I’m def in touch with what a ‘rich’ life is for me an my family. Took me a long time to figure it out but the importance is to take the leap and figure it out. Too many people want to live the “average’ life and be comfy and even feel entitled. I chose to run with the smaller pack who see what a rich life can really do for you, your family, and legacy.

    Heck yea I’m excited to see what you have up your sleeve for us. Always LOVE reading your material not only because its massively valuable, but your sense of humor is hilarious!


  3. Ross

    Why are kids coddled? Because it’s easy. The same “quick fix” mentality that leads to a short term gain long term loss. What I mean by that is, parents will give into what their kids want NOW because it’s the easy thing to do NOW, to save time or avoid a public meltdown or whatever. Unfortunately, that means that it’s teaching the child that if they ask, they receive. And when they don’t, they get angry and melt down.

    So in a sense, it’s actually a good thing when kids get mad when they hear “No”. It’s teaching them that they don’t always get what they want. If the parent is persistent and consistent enough, they’ll be less of a whiny brat about it.

    The grades thing is annoying, because all it reflects is your ability to get good grades. It says nothing of your creativity or intelligence, just your ability to memorize things and follow instructions (which are important but not sufficient skills to excel in the “real world”). Many of the world’s top entrepreneurs had mediocre grades, simply because maximizing them was not an efficient use of time. My hope for my kids isn’t straight A+, but a love of learning and doing.

    • Carmen

      I feel the same way about grades as well. I don’t believe that a child bringing home a “B” should be a soul destroying experience.

    • Mustafa

      i agree, however what I think the deal with grades is that, to some parents, such as I, it doesn’t matter what your grades are, as long as you know what it is like to work your ass off since the beginning, you’re in for a nice life. The public education system here in America, is shit. We have to understand that. The private education isn’t getting any better either. Hence, there is a need for us to teach our kids a work ethic.

  4. Tony Ferrara

    Ramit – Thanks for always putting out the realest. You, James Altucher & Tim Ferriss have all inspired me from inaction to action. Finally opening myself up to what I TRULY want to do in life has been a difficult journey. Accepting it instead of masking it is f***ing liberating, man.

    • William Cosentino

      Tony, totally with you on that! James and Tim are my fav two podcasts…and Ramit’s info certainly makes my mind stretch.

  5. Alexis Avellan

    Living a Rich Life means that I get to live my own dream because if I don’t then I’m helping someone else live theirs.

  6. joel

    I actually have kids, so let me give this a whirl. I want my kids to challenge authority, even me, because that’s who become leaders. A+ students work for C students. I don’t want my kid to be an employee. Our system rewards those who are pushy, manipulative and clever enough to work around the system. I’d say that’s a big part of IWT.

    “I just thought what my parents would have done if I’d ever done something like that”.

    I’d have been smacked probably. I’d live years fearing things I couldn’t quite place only to realize failure doesn’t hurt. I want my kids not to fear failure and I’d agree the current system encourages not experiencing it.

    The invisible script here is Respect=Fear. I’m okay with my kid challenging anyone who tells them No. Even if it’s irritating to a few others in a store.

    • Ramit Sethi

      A+ students rarely work for C students. That is a myth and a huge invisible script.

      I am all for being street smart. I’m all for learning how to handle failure. But it’s not either-or: “Either I get good grades or I’m creative.” The very best people say YES and YES: I’m going to be creative, street smart, AND get good grades.

    • KEV

      You usually get what you deserve… I’ve known a Rodriguez family with 3 sons that all went to MIT. What’s so unusual about them was that their intellect seemed so “normal.” Unlike the typical Asian or other straight A+ students, these kids were not pressured or feared into excellence from their parents. They were gentle and humble and were shy about their grades. Their parents were kind, simple, happy middle class Hispanics that lived near the school that ranked as one of the worst in the city – if not the nation. Yes, it really sucked! I went there and one of the graduates, who knew me, robbed me with a gun! In their case, their parents modeled love and compassion not “achievement” or “excellence.” I believe, because the boys were so humble and kind, teachers “liked ” them and “wanted” to help them succeed. It really helped when the oldest got into MIT and he paved the way for his two younger brothers to follow.
      In general, I think, I DO want more money and success…. But when I ask myself “WHY” I have trouble arriving at a really good answer. At this point in my life and career, I just may have all that I need…How true is that study about not getting much more happiness beyond $76k? I wonder. As I approach no debt and live more simply each day, I have a greater desire to grow internally rather than externally and this may require more time, focus and energy than ever before… With my boys, I hope to have the courage to focus on the process rather than the result – even if it seems I am “cuddling.” If he truly did his best, I hope to appreciate the effort and not convey, “You are still not good enough to be my son…” I do not see much benefit of setting the bar too high, beyond his age or maturity. Deep down in his head and heart – he knows when he did his part. Having that certainty of punishment and sense of inadequacy when he does not get that A+ can’t be all that healthy for anyone.
      I have 2 boys and they are polar opposites in terms of school grades and ability to follow directions. They are unique and progress at different rates – I did not believe this “BS”until I had these two. Because the younger one did not speak nor crawl nowhere near his brother’s age, at one period, I thought he had disabilities… Fast forward 6+ years, his teachers now whisper to me how smart he is as if they are revealing a nasty secret. Looking back, I’m stunned at his delayed progress and feel ashamed of my “anti-cuddling” tactics and projecting sense of inadequacy towards him. I am certain that if I were more loving and understanding, he would have gotten there faster, also learned, and may absorbed those skills along his journey. I hope I can heal the scars of rejections, grow together with these precious boys, and cuddle them often… even during those dark days, they dare come home with an “A-“

  7. Deb Striker

    As a single, self-employed, home-schooling mom, my kids are FAR from coddled. They work hard to exceed their own expectations because they watch me work my butt off to give them everything we have. My 8 yo has her own website and does random jobs for neighbors so she has some of her own money too. The 5yo hasn’t started his own business yet, LOL.

    There is a major issue with mainstream parenting today. Most parents have been told they’ll hurt their kids self-esteem if they don’t reward every little effort, which is serious BS. There’s also the added issue of far too much government intrusion. If you allow your kids the freedom they’ve earned, you can easily run astray of CPS. There was is a MD couple facing that very issue right this moment. They’re 10 & 6 yo were 1/8 of a mile away from their home, by themselves and a neighbor calls the police. The police then picked the kids up and took them into custody. It’s a stupid / ridiculous situation and needs to be addressed.

  8. Catt

    Hey Ramit! I’ve been reading your blog for a while actually bought your book a while ago, was writing a long(ish) email to you in response to one of your ZTL launch emails where you said what’s stopping you, then I overheard someone saying bad things about me and just felt bad and never got to send my email.
    BUT anyways reading this post really hit me when you said “It’s almost like we’ve created a whole culture where we’re judged on what you aspire to, not what you’ve actually accomplished.” THAT SUCKS and is really true in a lot of instances.
    I was reading Primoz’s story/guide on how he “surrounded himself with cool people” and I was absolutely stunned and inspired at the amount of decision and choice and action he made. I’ve lived in Italy so the fact that Primoz did this in Slovenia – I really know that THAT means being DIFFERENT. Growing up in a conservative Asian family, I’ve never been scared of taking action and hard work at all. But what I had been scared of in the past (and now of course) was making a decision all in into who I really am and not what everyone else is doing and what I should be doing. One of those thing is being rich and is being happy to have someone do my floors and send my car for ultra amazing cleaning service, both things my dad (who is very successful and I highly respect) does himself. I’ve also been scared to be myself (give myself permission) and create a career out of it, which is untraditional, very creative, seemingly superficially/vanity driven, and service based.
    A rich life to me means exploding to life with your gifts. It means nurturing yourself in whatever way – trips to beautiful places, whiskey tasting like you mention, massages, manis and pedis, clothes that feel amazing when I wear them, etc. so that I can shine brightly and give others permission to do the same in their own unique way. It means that when I live my own life, that I’m generating the energetic exchange of money through true value to others. Part of that is me being fully charged and feeling into my own power, which things like whiskey tasting can bring us. That is what the riches are for in my heart. It’s not so that I can take a vacation, I’ve had enough vacation in my life already and I don’t care much for them. I care about experiencing my life though, and if that takes a vacation trip somewhere then I want to honor that. I guess what I’m trying to say is that living a rich life is providing value to others in the form of being fully yourself in whatever form that looks like – the inspiration that it’s possible through living it in my way. Beyond the money to me, it is to matter and bring a positive influence in the world – and in no way do I mean that in the “I’m going to say something that makes me sound good” way. I truly desire the world to come into more consciousness and if that means I need to learn the ins and outs of building a business and what not, I’m willing to move towards that. Oh and along the way I have to be deliciously joyous as well, don’t I? I think more than anything, that’s what I truly desire – to be a positive inspiration through my own example and to have a large reach in a thoroughly authentic way (with myself and my audience) – and to me that includes being abundantly living a rich life.
    To make this decision is everything to me – I can do the hard work no problem, but if it’s not backed by my full faith and commitment, it will be that flailing Asian hard work route that I already tried in school and worked but didn’t work. Thanks for your inspiration Ramit because it brings me closer to letting go of the thoughts that get in the way of my decision.

    Ok aside from all the powerful desires I have to build a business, I do have one question I hope you can answer about it, I want to make sure everything I’m doing is legal in my online business, and I need to write things up like privacy statements and contracts. Where do I find the right lawyers for that without getting gypped/tricked? (yes it’s the Asian in me that wants to be SUPER EFFING CAREFUL).

    Thanks for this post Ramit and I look forward to your do not say series!
    -Catt xx

    • Drake Ramoray

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  9. Mauricio

    Living the rich life to me is having the freedom to do things that I want when I want. It’s a purpose filled life that helps others achieve their goals.

  10. zombie

    ROFL… But the white people F is “I’m getting your teacher fired”.

    • Ramit Sethi


  11. Carmen

    I’m having the hardest time getting that “just do it” mindset. It’s very frustrating! I’m constantly fighting myself to stop stopping myself from achieving. I’ve made some progress, but hot damn, I still have a long way to go it seems.

    It’s the worst whenever I want to lose weight or learn a new skill. I start and then stop myself by telling myself “What’s the point? No need to do this! Cause I can’t do this!” It’s been a very hard attitude to destroy.

    I don’t know what to do anymore or how to even fix it.

    • Ramit Sethi

      Maybe you should stop focusing on your mindset and start focusing on your behaviors.

  12. Parker

    I have 3 boys that are 1,3, and 16. Piss poor planning I know. With my 16 year old, it is a constant battle with the school system on grades and accountability. At his school, which is one of the largest school systems in the state, grades are posted on the school website for parents to check. We check his grades on a regular basis, and when he has not handed in homework we ride his ass until it gets handed in. The accountability with him to us and his school goes out the window when he is allowed to hand in the work as late as several months and still get full credit.

    It is a constant battle to get him to do his work, which is making his mother and I rethink how we approached school when it comes time for kids 2 & 3. I completely agree that the young ones look to us as an example and it is up to us to show them how to be hard workers and accountable. How are we doing this? My wife and I focus on holding each other accountable with work and life. How do you think an Indian family is different? How do they have kids that want to achieve? Huge stereotype, but what do they do different?

  13. BillZimm

    making the grade in school repeating back information that may or may not be useful is a dismal and for me it was a horrible experience. Creative people don’t fit in public schools and their stifled lives become marginalized by a system not designed for them. Grades and the metaphor of what they are designed for certain types of people. People who end up as part of the big Government and monolithic corporate machine. And that’s fine but there are other kinds of people, other kinds of children who are not served by the grading system by the public-school design even private schools are the same. I think homeschooling is probably the best thing in the world and the real hope for a future generation of thinkers.

  14. Amanda

    Read this and still working to understand it all. I have an infant son and 3 step children. I’m a former teacher with a Masters degree in Education, yet now I stay at home and work. I take care of my 3 step-children 99 % of the time and tend to have raging battles with my husband. I never had issues with kids like this during teaching, but now it’s so infuriating. Especially with the youngest step-child. He’s 10 yet expects to be treated like a 4 year old. Dad still coddles him, and encourages bad behavior with rewards because he’s developed an anger problem. He hits his older sister (18 months difference) because he gets mad and gets “scolded”. He doesn’t do chores, loses priveleges then says he feels sick to get time hanging out and getting “lost priveleges” back. If you cross him, you get hateful looks and defiant behavior later. I feel so scared now with an 8 month old, wondering when he’ll snap and lash out at him. Just tonight, he was grounded from games and tv, cried, got to sit in dad’s lap and got priveleges back while shooting the rest of us dirty looks. I’m at a loss.