“The entitlement epidemic usually begins with over parenting, overindulging, overprotecting, over pampering, over praising, and jumping through hoops to meet kids endless demands.” – Amy McCready, author of The Me, Me, Me, Epidemic
Entitlement is a privileged parent’s worst nightmare. Of course we’re so happy to be able to give our children almost everything they could ever want or need. It can be a lot of fun to pamper them with all the delicious extras like delicious food, exciting activities, and lovely toys. However when they start demanding and expecting that they should be getting exactly what they want, it can start to feel like we’re creating monster.
The truth is, when children grow up with a silver spoon in their mouth and knowing no different, they have no perspective on life! They know only of abundance, of getting everything they want, and of having their adults rush to satisfy their every whim. If they’ve never had to struggle, to wait patiently, work hard for something, or experience stress and frustration, then it’s hardly surprising that they don’t know how to handle any of those things. Most of us don’t appreciate the things that come easily.
If our kids are feeling entitled to receive certain stuff, treatment, or help, it’s because they’ve always received those things without ever having to earn them, struggle for them, or wait for them! That’s the feeling of entitlement – that one deserves everything – just because. Luckily though, there’s an antitode to this feeling.
The antidote to entitlement is gratitude.
You could be the wealthiest person alive. If you’re grateful for what you have and realize what a blessing it is, then you’re not entitled. Inversely, you could be dirt poor. But if you think that you deserve everything “just because”, then you might be very entitled!
How do we help our children gain a wider perspective? We want them to know that whilst it’s fine to desire, it’s not OK to demand, and that while it’s great to think big, we must be willing to work hard, and that while we may be used to getting what we want, we can also get used to wanting what we already have. The saying goes, “You don’t know what you’ve got, till it’s gone.” But perhaps it’s also true that “You don’t know what you’ve got, till you meet someone else who doesn’t have it.” If we expose our children to the realities that other people face, to the struggles they must endure, and to the hardships they must overcome just to survive, we may be able to put into perspective how truly blessed they are. Through stories, biographies, and meeting people in real life, we can show them just what it means to have running water, modern medicine, the right to vote, freedom to travel, freedom to practice your religion, freedom to be who you are, a shelter over your head, and food on the table.
Practical Steps To Help Your Kids Focus on The Positive and Avoid Bitter Entitlement
The opposite of entitlement isn’t deprivation; the opposite of entitlement is gratitude.
- Restrain our overprotective instincts.
- Help them frame frustrations within a broader perspective.
- Avoid bribing or paying children for chores.
- Stop doing things for your children that they can do for themselves. Practice gratitude regularly.
- Give perspective by sharing how difficult things are/were for other people.
Are you already doing one of these practical steps or would you like to? Tell us about it in the comments below!