As a middle school teacher and mom in 2016, I see entitlement. We seem to live in an age of instant gratification and always needing the latest and greatest technology, clothes, toys, etc. Of course this is not just limited to kids, we as adults are guilty of it too. We’re also guilty of perpetuating this in our kids, allowing them to feel entitled, when really, none of us are. So how do we break it? Here are 3 suggestions for maybe overcoming this epidemic.
Make them work for it.
Even as adults I think we are all so guilty of this. I have seen people my age (or younger) buying their first homes and going straight for the big house, the one like what they grew up in. They are in debt and can do little else but pay the mortgage and keep up with the bills. What we sometimes fail to realize is that that house we grew up in… our parents worked for it. They started off in that one bedroom apartment, they rented a small house, worked their way up. It may have taken them decades of hard work to buy that house but we want it all now. We are teaching our kids to want it all now. There is nothing wrong with hard work, it’s good for us and it’s good for our kids. Allowance is not a new concept by any means but I’ve seen lots of middle school kids that get upwards of $20 a week and guess how many chores they do? None. They are just given money without having to do anything to earn it. This may seem harmless a few times but the habit of never having to experience hard work to get what you want, to buy that new game; it breeds entitlement.
Let them fail.
We hate to see our kids hurt or upset. We hate to see them fail. So what happens when that school project or test seems too hard? Do we make excuses? Do we do it for them? Do we email the teacher and tell them how unfair the assignment is? I’m sure all of us want to from time to time but the only thing this teaches our kids is that they can’t do it, or we can do it better, or they can’t do anything without us. Failing allows for lessons to be learned. It allows for growth. It allows us to see that we are not perfect and that we are not entitled to certain things just because we want them.
Don’t do it all.
Many times we like to go, go, go. We take our kids to every event, pay ridiculous prices for tickets, go to see the latest Pixar movie as soon as it hits the theaters, etc. Not only do we do this, but each event includes the souvenir, the popcorn, the candy, and on and on. Somehow I think going to these things all the time makes them less special. “Remember that time Mom and Dad let us get popcorn AND candy at the movie as a special treat?!” quickly becomes “Why can’t I get popcorn? I want popcorn!” with the temper tantrum to go along with it of course. We are creating expectations for our kids that they are entitled to the popcorn, entitled to the $30 light up wand at Disney on Ice. They are no longer happy with the outing as a special treat. They want everything. So maybe if we stop doing it all. Maybe if getting candy at the movies is a special treat that is earned or given for fun occasionally. Maybe, just maybe they won’t expect it, they will be surprised and excited by that special treat. They will be grateful.
None of us are perfect in this. I love to spoil my kids, and I do. However, balancing the occasional spoiling with a dose of hard work, some tough lessons, and some gratitude could go a long way in raising our kids without entitlement.