This does not mean that they’re bad kids or that selfish behaviors can’t be turned around. It just becomes exponentially more difficult with age, because the patterns and habits are more ingrained. Symptoms of entitlement include:
- Lack of common courtesy (no ‘Please’, ‘Thank you’, or consideration of others)
- Taking material possessions for granted (such as tossing a brand new iPhone onto the ground for fun because it has a hard protective case)
- Talking about themselves all the time; rarely making an effort to get to know others; posting nothing but “selfies” on social media sites
- Whining and complaining when asked to do simple tasks (such as putting their dirty dishes into the dishwasher)
- Generally expecting to be served, attended and catered to without having to reciprocate
- Taking family and friends for granted (such as expecting others to do what they want to do when they want to do it, and throwing a fit if they can’t have their way)
Kids learn things like manners, responsibility, respect, empathy and the value of hard work from adults. No one wants to raise a spoiled brat, however this is what happens when a sense of entitlement is allowed to run rampant. Thankfully, there are many ways to create an environment that cultivates the positive character traits parents want to impart to their children.
Here are 5 ways to cultivate the qualities you WANT your kids to have:
1) Model the behaviors you want to see. Children learn more from what we do than what we say, meaning we have to live the values we want our kids to absorb.
2) Create a system of contribution. Give your child opportunities to help, no matter how young they are. Make them feel like part of a team – this emphasizes the importance of family and working together over the importance of Self.
3) Have children work for the extra games/toys/clothes/etc. they want. When children work and save to buy something they want, they value and care for the item much more. This teaches kids a great deal about responsibility, hard work, and nurtures their own sense of accomplishment.
4) Follow through with consequences. If you say ‘No dessert without finishing dinner’, mean it! Empty threats not only teach kids that they can do what they want without consequence, it undermines kids’ confidence and trust that you’ll do what you say. Follow through and enforce boundaries!
5) Nurture empathy. Play games, activities, read stories and have conversations that connect your child with other people and beings. Encourage them to put themselves in others’ shoes.