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Are you raising an entitlement monster without even realizing it? So often we can miss rather minute behaviors in our kids that over time can add up to become big problems.
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If there is one thing that saddens me about the society we live in today it is the attitude of entitlement, and it seems to be running rampant.
Advertisers have gotten very good at convincing us that we deserve whatever they are selling, and if we cannot afford what they have to offer, more times than not they make it pretty easy to find a way around that through the “buy now, pay later” mentality in some sort of way.
I think many of the issues we see in children today has greatly to do with the fact that we are raising vast amounts of entitlement monsters.
Back when I was a kid it was keeping up with the Jones family, but today I think it is simply an “I
need want that” mentality that dominates the things we do and buy. Meaning, an attitude of entitlement. “I deserve,” “so-and-so has that so I should, too,” and, “so what if I can’t afford it,” are all common phrases that an entitlement attitude would say.
One of my biggest goals as a parent is to raise adults who do not think they deserve simply because they breathe air. If this is your goal, maybe these tips can help.
1. Teach your kids to work, and to work hard
Kids who do not have a entitlement attitude are fueled by hard work. Of course working hard in school, in their extracurricular activities, and around the house are certainly important aspects, but I am specifically referring to working hard at a paying job.
My older kids are old enough to have regular “wants.” Of course as parents we want to meet, at least partially, the wants of our children at times, but it is vitally important that our children also take a role in meeting their own wants in order to deflate that attitude of entitlement. My kids babysit, shovel snow in the neighborhood, do various yard work for neighbors, and take on other odds and ends to earn some spending money of their own.
It is amazing what kids can find to do if they are motivated by their “wants.”
Have you seen this book?
Growing Grateful Kids: Teaching Them to Appreciate an Extraordinary God in Ordinary Places (Hearts at Home Books)
It’s one of my favorites on teaching kids to be grateful, and it’s from Hearts at Home, which is one of my favorite organizations, too!
2. Let nature take its course
Natural consequences can be a great method to use when correcting and disciplining children, but it can also be an effective technique in curbing an entitlement attitude.
An example of this in my life was when my daughter refused to listen when I repeatedly told her that it was not a good idea to practice her flute in the living room. Not only did she do this, but she also set her flute down on the couch and left the room to go do something else despite being frequently taught that leaving her instrument around rather than putting it away when not being played was asking for trouble. Of course someone sat on the couch, not noticing her flute sitting there, and it got bent – badly.
Accidents happen and as parents we often cover these accident for our kids, but in this case, she was simply irresponsible and disobedient to my specific request (I had told her I didn’t want to listen to her flute playing in the living room), so this was a situation that I felt she needed to take ownership of. The repair was nearly $300, and she was required to pay half.
To this day, I have never seen her flute lying around anywhere. Had I paid for the entire repair bill, I have a feeling this would not be the case.
Have you ever read this book?
There is a book in this series that is targeted to younger kids and then teens, and while I don’t agree with absolutely everything in these books (I have all three), they are among the best books I’ve found on parenting with reality discipline (and keeping your cool when your kids are pushing your buttons).
3. Teach your children to be a gracious “loser”
Encourage them to pursue activities that challenge them, even if that means they are not at the top of the pack. Don’t inflate their ego by telling them they should be the top player, musician, or scholar if they should not in an effort to make them feel better about being second, eighth, or even last place. Kids should be aware that in everything there are winners and losers, and that all players are a vital part of any group
In all reality, the star player on any team can not be a star player without the support of the rest of their team. A team is a team, and teams work together.
Sadly, our kids may face cheaters at times, but being second place is ok if that is truly where your child belongs. Teaching your kids to be a gracious loser means teaching your children to pursue excellence and to find contentment wherever their own excellence takes them.
4. Foster an attitude of gratitude
Just as being thankful can turn our day around and tame our own green-eyed monster, the same benefits await your children if this concept is a regular part of your child’s life. Just as with adults, kids can find contentment in keeping their eyes open to the blessings in their own lives.
Contentment is the opposite of entitlement. One or the other will be fed, and since humans are selfish by nature, an attitude of contentment is a learned skill. Foster contentment in your own life, model it for your children, and encourage your child to find contentment in their life whenever you see an entitlement attitude arise.
In summary, we can all fall victim to an attitude of entitlement at times, but this attitude will never bring good things into our lives or in the lives of our children. Selfishness, discontent, and greed are close cousins to entitlement and are not traits we want to see in our children, either.
Raising well rounded, gracious, hardworking, thankful, and even generous children takes effort, but by curbing an attitude of entitlement through hard work, natural consequences, being a gracious “loser,” and being thankful, you will be keeping entitlement at bay in the lives of your children.
Not only will this benefit your children now, but it will shape them into humble, giving, and happy adults – and who doesn’t want to raise our children into those?