A familiar trope in movies and TV shows is entitled children; kids, tweens, and teens complaining that they didn’t get something they think they deserve. They complain about a teacher giving them a poor grade. They whine to their friends about their parents giving them an early curfew or not letting them go to a party. Or they call coaches dumb when they don’t make the team. They expect other people to bend over backward doing things for them, with younger siblings and “dorky” friends frequently falling victim to their demands.
The scary thing is that this theme, used for comedic value in the entertainment targeted at our children, is far too often found in the real world. Have you ever been shocked to find that your child believes they deserve something, that they are entitled to something they clearly haven’t earned? An entitlement is something that is granted to someone without them having to earn it. It is given without any effort. And unfortunately, our culture is encouraging our children’s sense of entitlement. My husband, Mark, asked me to join him on this podcast to tackle the worrisome trend of entitlement that is growing in recent generations and has become all too prevalent among kids today. If you want to break your kids out of a “me, me, me” mindset here are 4 ways to do it.
1. Look in the mirror.
Where did your kids pick up on the instant gratification idea? Do you indulge yourself at every whim, or do you set an example of restraint and responsible use of resources? Parents must model the attitudes they want their children to learn. A mom who finds her contentment at the mall will likely raise children who live the same way.
2. Expose your kids to reality.
Nothing brings the desire for material things into perspective like seeing people who truly have needs. Take your children along when you volunteer at a shelter, or on a mission trip to an impoverished region. Many parents report that experiences like these were life-changing for their entire families in this regard.
3. Make them work for it.
When you realize how many chores or hours of yard work are required to accumulate the cash for an expensive video game or a pair of designer jeans, you think more seriously about how much you really want them. Giving luxuries to our children with no strings attached distorts their understanding of economic reality, and can hamper their financial savvy as adults.
4. Show tough love.
Remember that equipping your children with the skills to be content is the loving thing to do. If your family has ample financial resources and can afford to indulge your children at every turn, you risk creating children who may never be satisfied with less. What if they don’t have access to a similar level of income as adults? Even if they do have plenty of cash throughout their lives, will they have learned how to be content in a variety of circumstances? Parent for the long haul, not just for today.
Tell us! How do you get your kids to think of others?