5 Steps to Not Raising an Entitled Child

Wording that describes over protective or controlling parents.

Do any of these phrases apply to you?

How did a generation of children become so entitled? I think back to when I was a child and how it was unconscionable to even think about demanding that parents buy me things, just because I wanted them. I wasn’t neglected by any means, but I, just like every child, wanted what other children had. However, my parents and their contemporaries had the common sense to say, “no.”

But attitudes about child rearing and what is acceptable and what is overboard have drastically changed over the years. In this brave new world, children, adolescents and teens believe they are entitled to have the trendiest gadgets on the market, new clothing when they demand it, vacations during school breaks, etc. What happened? That’s a good question.

I believe it began when parents wanted to give their children things that they didn’t have as children. My experience as a Marriage, Family and Child Therapist; a parent; and a teacher has given me a unique perspective on how families function and how I can best help your family become whole again. I work with you to evaluate what the best course of action is for your family. Working together, we will define reasonable boundaries your child and strengthen your inner resolve as their parent.

Why Does My Child Feel So Entitled?

Adult points his finger at a defiant little boy.

Entitled little boy being told that he cannot have or do what he wants to do.

I wonder the same thing. I often end up speaking with the parent and reminding them that their child is only in control because they’ve willingly given over control. It is our job as parents to prepare and lead youngsters toward doing the right thing. Instead, often out of a sense of guilt or wanting to give our children what we may not have had, we protect them from having to deal with natural consequences of their wrongdoings, reward them even if they have not accomplished what they promised to do, and refuse to let them learn how to fight their own battles and mend their own fences.

The result of these circumstances can be an individual who feels entitled. An individual who believes that life is always happy and that things will be in their favor. This is not the real world. This is a make-believe bubble that parents have created to shield their children from the world. When these children are confronted with authority figures who don’t see them as the center of the universe, their world crumbles, and they become angry and defiant.

How to Teach Your Child to Be a Little Less Entitled

Children learn by modeling what the important adults in their lives do. They are mimickers extraordinaire. Here are just a few of the ways to give your child some valuable life lessons:

  • By making mistakes. Yes, I said making mistakes. It’s okay to do that. In fact, it’s more than okay; it’s imperative that your child learn that falling flat on their face helps them learn and grow. When they fall off their bike the first time, do you tell them not to ride that nasty bike again? No, you tell them to get right back on it, because you understand that it’s part of the learning process. So, if you rush in and fix your child’s errors or tell them that it’s not their fault when it is, you are negating the value of that lesson. You are sending the message that it’s okay to be irresponsible.
  • Through consistency. Children need structure and consistency from the adults around them, whether they choose to admit it or not. So, let’s say you’ve asked your child to clean his room and tell him if he doesn’t complete the task he’ll be grounded for the day. He doesn’t clean his room, but later on, when he wants to go to a friend’s house, you allow it. You end up frustrated, and he gets to do what he wanted to do all along. The message you’ve inadvertently sent is: “I’m not true to my word. You can’t count on me.”
  • Tough love. No parent wants to be the “bad guy,” but sometimes children, no matter what their age, need to know that their parents put limits on their behavior of what will be tolerated. Children who don’t have these boundaries will sometimes go to great lengths to their parent’s attention; to get them to react.
  • Patience. Who likes to wait for things? No one, but sometimes it’s worth it. Many kids today have no idea what it’s like to put something on lay-away or to save up for the new bike they wanted. They just ask for it and get it; no wait time. Just instant gratification. Part of that comes from our advanced technology, which provides information in a few seconds notice, but often it’s something that they have learned at home. They see us impatient in traffic or fussing about standing in long lines. They notice our behaviors and copy them. Teaching our children to wait reminds them that the world does not revolve around their needs and that other people also have commitments they must fulfill. It also provides a life lesson that the best things in life are worth waiting for.
  • Mentoring. By acting as their mentor, you can guide them along the process. This may involve curbing your own behavior, so that they can mirror how things should be done and keeping the lines of communication open so that they feel free to talk to you about their decisions.

Transforming Your Child from Entitled to Understanding

One of my favorite expressions is: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” I’m drawn to this quote because it’s about learning to cope with the situation at hand. Teaching your child coping skills is one of the most valuable gifts you can pass on to them. Working together as a unified force, we can help your “entitled child” become a more empathetic, understanding and patient human being, someone who can handle controversy, deal appropriately with confrontation and eventually develop into a responsible, caring and empathetic adult.

I encourage your feedback and invite you to visit my website at www.judilirman.com, email me at judimft@gmail.com or call (818) 998-3205.

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