Christian Living

Family Matters 04/25/14

Don't Raise an Entitled Child!

We hear a lot these days about entitled children who seem to think they deserve more than they have and will act out to get what they want. One parent saw the seeds of this behavior early on in her child’s life and asked the question below. Maybe this will help you be intentional about entitlement in terms of early prevention.

“My son seems to have the idea that he should always get what he wants. I admit that we do tend to spoil him. His toy closet is full of toys that he rarely plays with once the novelty wears off. Last night, he pestered me for something at the store and I said, “No.” He threw a fit and would not stop until I gave in. I’m worried that I might be raising a child who feels entitled.”

Your concern is warranted. We have too many kids who feel entitled because of well meaning parents who overindulge. By nature, children constantly ask for things, but when they regularly get whatever they want without any work or stipulation, they can develop a sense of entitlement. For example, instead of doing chores as part of contributing to the family work, children are paid. And we have this notion that giving more stuff to our children makes you a better parent. Additionally, parents often feel pressured by media and advertisers to provide the latest phone or technical device, the best designer clothing and expensive shoes that will be outgrown in a few months.

It’s time to pull back and look at the bigger picture.

By giving your child whatever he wants, what are you teaching him? Start setting limits. For example, when my daughter wanted a cell phone at an early age, I said, “No.” I could afford one and many of her friends had one, but she didn’t need it. We held firm in our resolve and that was an important lesson. She managed to survive without the cell phone and really appreciated getting a cell phone when the time was right.

Also, create opportunities for your children to earn rewards. All of this requires a shift in your thinking as a parent. Your child is not a co-equal, doesn’t make his own decisions, needs to learn respect for money, things, and you, and should be refused when arguing or being disrespectful. You are in charge, so stop allowing your child to bully you into giving him things. These may sound like tough words, but you will thank me later!

The take away here is that parents help create entitled children by refusing to set limits, giving in to their demands and not giving them opportunities to earn rewards. It’s never too early to teach lessons of humility and hard work. Start when your kids are young!