We live in an age of instant gratification. If we want something to eat we are surrounded with a multitude of options. If we want to watch a particular television program we can now stream the video online through Netflix or use On Demand. If we want to share exciting news all we have to do is get online. It is no wonder that kids are growing up expecting instant gratification for every wish they have. This sense of deserving every whim or wish creates this sense of entitlement.
Many of the parents that I work with are concerned about issues of entitlement. It may be that their child is asking for an increased allowance, the latest phone, or a new car for their birthday. Regardless of the request, the real problem lies in the fact that the child believes that they are owed these things just for being.
Parents can start early to help give their kids the skills to combat this problem. Parents have the responsibility to provide shelter, food, emotional support, education, play, fun, clothing, and fair treatment. In contrast they are not responsible for providing everything their child’s friends already have, extended curfews, new gadgets or additional money just because they are older.
The problem with this attitude is that the child has not made the connection between their efforts to achieve something and the internal sense of satisfaction once that goal is reached. The larger problem is that teens and young adults who grow up with indulgent parents struggle to learn how to handle their feeling, and delayed gratification.
Raising children who are entitlement-free is quite a challenge, but there are a few things that parents can begin to do now. The earlier that parents start the better –
- Allowance or no allowance – To give your child an allowance is a parenting choice. However, allowance should be earned. There are age appropriate tasks that kids can do such as taking out the trash, dusting, or vacuuming.
- Savings – Teaching kids to save their allowance to buy the toys they desire will help to instill a sense of accomplishment. It can also lead to teaching them about financial responsibility.
- Saying “Yes”- It is OK to say yes to requests your child makes that they are not able to achieve themselves. It is also understandable to indulge from time to time for special occasions.
- Don’t just say “no”- Help your child to understand your decision making process by explaining to them why their request in inappropriate. Then you have the opportunity to allow your child to earn what they are wanting on their own.