Tips to Avoid Raising an Entitled Child
By Julie Baumgardner, MS, CFLE
We’ve all been there. That moment in the store when we watch a parent cave to the demands of their child and think, “I would never let that happen with my child. I have no intention of raising an entitled kid.” Oh wait, that’s not at all how it actually goes.
How many times when my daughter was growing up was I “that” parent who after a long day just wanted to get home and after proudly saying no, gave in a few minutes later because I just wanted to be done with it? I beat myself up a bit and told myself next time it would be different.
The truth is, most parents I know don’t set out to raise children who believe they are the center of the universe and everything that happens should revolve around them. However, in our endeavors to give them what we didn’t have or to ensure their success, many of us spend an inordinate amount of time, energy, and brain power focused on them, which actually leads our kids to believe they are and should be the center of attention wherever they go.
As a parent, I know this is not a good thing. My professional training has taught me this is not conducive to good outcomes for young adults, and research says this kind of parenting ultimately is not helpful to children. BUT how do we as parents put the brakes on and change our ways?
We need to begin with the end in mind. Outside of extenuating circumstances, I was not interested in having my daughter dependent on her parents for the rest of her life. I wanted to see her spread her wings and for her to realize all she is capable of doing without our direct assistance. At age 23, she has a job and is out of the house, but I assure you that didn’t happen without some painful missteps and some eye opening moments where she realized the world does not revolve around her.
So what does it take to raise a child who isn’t entitled?
Avoid creating an environment in your home that leads your child to believe he/she is the center of your universe.
In real life, your child will not always be the center of anyone’s attention. Avoid putting this belief in his head by not making him the center of attention in your home.
Teach your child what it means to be accountable and responsible for his/her own behavior.
While this one can be painful, it is super powerful and important. Instead of swooping in and saving the day each time your child encounters a difficult person or a problem, allow your child to problem-solve, figure something out, and actually deal with it – this helps to build self-confidence. When you take responsibility for their behavior and rob them of experiencing the consequences (good or bad), you are cheating them out of the opportunity to learn and grow.
Just because you want something super bad doesn’t mean you automatically get it.
When people are given things without earning them, they tend not to appreciate what they have. Teaching your children that anything worth having is worth working for is a lesson that will serve them well throughout their life.
Teach them the importance of giving.
Whether contributing to getting chores done around the house (without getting paid) or serving others in the community, teaching children how to be givers helps guard against an attitude of entitlement.
Parents who truly want their children to succeed must realize that character, accountability, generosity, and a strong work ethic are valuable traits that don’t necessarily come naturally, and we must intentionally and consistently prepare them for a world that is definitely not all about them.