Parents want their children to succeed, but overindulging or sheltering them can eventually backfire. According to experts, the next generation of adults lives in an entitlement epidemic where they’ll find it more difficult to develop realistic expectations and interact with others. Over-parenting can weaken a child’s self-confidence and lessen their resilience.
How do you balance caring for your child while helping them develop independence, gratitude, a strong work ethic, and the ability to learn from their mistakes? Take a look at these proven methods to turn a false sense of entitlement into healthy self-respect.
Strategies to Use with Your Child
At an early age, every child feels like they’re the center of the world; this is a natural part of their development. As a parent, it’s imperative to teach your children how to respect others while accommodating their needs.
1. Set limits early. If you’re tempted to spoil your child, consider how their future classmates and coworkers might respond to their demands. Children need to hear the word “no” from time to time. To avoid creating an entitlement mentality, avoid satisfying their every request. Rejection and the word “no” will help them have realistic expectations when they enter adulthood. Additionally, teaching children cooperation and compromise will set them up for success in their social interactions, whether at school or the workplace.
2. Be clear about expectations and consequences. Children need consistency. For example, enforce regular bedtimes and limit their mobile device usage while screening their internet activity. They will better understand how to follow the rules when they start playing school sports or driving a car. Make sure your child understands what will happen if they fail to comply, and follow through on those consequences.
3. Share chores. Household tasks are a practical way to foster a sense of responsibility and a work ethic while teaching collaboration. This also teaches children to work towards earning expensive items on their wish lists if their parents allow it. Kids will feel valued as family members and see how they can contribute to a happy household. Researchers suggest that those who complete chores have higher self-confidence, are more responsible, and can better deal with frustration and delay gratification, all of which help them perform better in school.
4. Practice gratitude. Studies show that practicing gratitude has lasting positive effects on the brain. Special events such as birthdays and holidays can inspire appreciation rather than greed. Make sending thank you notes a regular and fun activity. Encourage your child to choose the stationery and draw pictures if they struggle to find the appropriate words. Yet another way to teach gratitude to your children is to take turns at mealtime to express what you’re most thankful for each day.
5. Teach financial responsibility. Children can begin to understand the fundamentals of sticking to a budget and saving money at an early age. Giving your children an allowance for chore completion will allow them to earn some spending money and appreciate its value. For instance, consider providing your child with a basic phone plan and letting them use their allowance to purchase extra minutes and features.
6. Encourage conversation. Parents sometimes buy electronic devices for their children as a source of entertainment because they’re too tired to spend meaningful time together. Take a road trip without movies or video games and limit mobile phone usage. Count road signs, sing songs, or play the “license plate game,” where you look for how many different state license plates you can spot while traveling.
7. Value effort and learning. Guide your children toward developing positive self-esteem. Praise them for gaining knowledge through reading books, for example, and taking risks instead of focusing on grades and prizes. Take the time to talk to your child about what they’re learning and ask questions. Show them that you’re interested in what they have to share by maintaining eye contact and providing one-on-one attention. A good time to have these conversations is during mealtimes or while traveling to after-school activities.
Strategies Just for You
Children follow their parent’s example. Think about the kind of role model you are to your child. We all feel a sense of entitlement occasionally; this may be an ideal time to examine whether you struggle with entitlement issues of your own and to what extent.
1. Give yourself credit. We all want to feel special and do things as we wish now and then. Your willingness to put aside your preferences is an excellent first step. Be proud of yourself for being aware of your habits and open to changing them.
2. Practice giving. You may find that ending your sense of entitlement isn’t easy. However, you’ll likely discover that being generous towards others makes you happier than trying to satisfy your own desires. As a bonus, your relationships will probably be more connected and peaceful overall.
3. Simplify your lifestyle. Our society constantly bombards us with advertisements designed to get us to spend more money. Try not to think too often about material possessions and wealth by keeping things in perspective and focusing on what truly matters in life.
4. Hold yourself accountable. When things go wrong, do you take responsibility for your actions, or are you quick to place blame on others? Your children may stop making excuses for their choices if they see you taking ownership of your own decisions.
5. Consider counseling. For some, an exaggerated sense of entitlement may result from feeling deprived or not getting your needs met as a child. Talking with a therapist can help if you think you may need to explore this possibility further.
You can give your children love and attention without feeling pressured to do their homework or buy expensive toys and electronics. Managing entitlement issues prepares your child for adulthood and the real world, setting them up for success: they will experience higher self-esteem, be more resilient and responsible, and live a happier and more satisfying life.