10 Ways to NOT Raise Entitled Children: Teach your child compassion, humility, and a hard work ethic, while developing life-long skills.
Young or old, I think we can all agree that there is a growing epidemic in our country.
It is known as ENTITLEMENT.
According to Google, the definition of entitlement is the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.
Let that sink in for a moment. That means a person who is entitled believes they should be offered not only material possessions, but opportunities, advancements, and special treatment above and beyond others just because they exist. NOT because they have worked hard, paid their time, or went the extra mile. Just because they want it. And shouldn't they have it?
There are various reasons children grow up feeling entitled and it varies from child to child as to what the root cause of that entitlement stems from. I could give you theory after theory, example after example, but the bottom line is that many factors contribute to this epidemic.
What I can share with you is my advice on How NOT to Raise Entitled Children.
Why should you take MY advice?
Because I have 2 children who are known as hard workers, who are the first to give away their toys or money to children in need. Who convinced me to buy a less expensive version of something I had my eye on for quite a long time and give the remaining money to a need we saw in our community. My children clear their plates from the table, put away their clothes, ask for permission to do things. They thank me every day for making their lunch or dinner. They ask to share prizes with each other or friends. And they don't ask me to buy them toys every time we go shopping (They do ask occasionally though, they are by no means perfect!)
I am not bragging. I am telling you the facts. And I can tell you, I have many friends consult me and ask how to raise their children to be like mine.
First I tell them to get on their knees and pray for guidance, grace, and wisdom from God and then I give them this advice:
How to NOT Raise Entitled Children1. Serve others with your children.
This is HUGE in our house! We serve together at local food banks, make cards for residents at nursing homes or children in the hospital, made cookies to surprise a friend with or help with a community clean-up project. There are COUNTLESS ways to get involved and help others. And when your children see the needs of others, it opens their eyes to see how blessed they are.
2. Let your child fail.
The third time your child forgets their homework, don't rush to the school to drop it off. If they fail a test, don't immediately blame the teacher or make excuses for them. If they lose a toy at a friend's after being told not to take it, don't replace it--or make them pay for half of it. If your child gets cut from the football team because they skipped too many practices, don't ask the coach to make an exception.
Teach them that there are consequences to their actions. And remember that often time it is from our failures we learn to succeed.
That may seem harsh and there is at times extenuating circumstances where you should step in on your child's behalf, but if you try to shelter them from all disappointments this world throws their way, they will NEVER be able to deal with the reality of life. And on to my next point...
3. Hold them when it hurts.
Oh my goodness does it hurt to see your child hurt!!! There will be times that your child suffers unfairly, or someone was mean to them, or they did take that toy to a friend's house and lost it. Sometimes they caused the hurt, sometimes they did nothing to warrant the disappointment they feel.
This is a CRUCIAL time as a parent.
You need to hold them, hug them, talk to them, encourage them, and help them sort through ways that they can handle the situation. You need to extend them grace and forgiveness, but let them still learn and see that while tomorrow is a new day, sometimes there are still consequences to actions. The bottom Line is you need to let them know, regardless of why they are hurting, you unconditionally love them.
4. Follow through.
My daughter is the one who loses toys everywhere she goes. We learned very quickly, after replacing a few favorite stuffed animals, to not allow her to take toys she loved out of our house. Now that she is older we strongly suggest to her that it would be best to leave the toys at home instead of taking stuffed animals with us everywhere we go and let her decide herself. Sometimes she goes against our advice. Then she comes home with a quivering lip and eyes brimming over with tears.......and I want to rush to buy her whatever she has lost!! But I don't. OH IS THAT HARD!!!!
Enforcing consequences on my children breaks my heart. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
My husband will confirm that many times I will cry after canceling a playdate or taking away their electronics for a week. Not because they didn't deserve those punishments, but because I hate how that punishment makes them feel.
But I know if I don't follow through with both good and bad consequences, I lose all respect as a parent. NOT A GOOD PLACE TO BE!!
5. Give your child chores.
Age-appropriate chores teach responsibility, work ethic, and life-skills. So many adults enter the world out of college and don't know how to cook, do laundry, clean a toilet, or even rinse a dish because they were never expected to do any work around the house.
6. Give your Child Allowance.
We all work to get something--money, fame, admiration, satisfaction, etc. That is human nature. If a person is rewarded for hard work, they are more likely to put forth the extra effort.
The same goes for your child. They need to have a tangible reason to work hard.
7. Teach Your Child Give, Save, Spend.
Once your child has money, you need to teach them the concept of Give, Save, Spend.
First, you give to God. Then you save for the future. Then you spend the rest on what you want. We have 3 clear jars in each of our child's rooms labeled according to give, save, spend. They put 10% of their allowance in giving, 10% in their save jar, and the remaining 80% in spend.
Giving teaches them to be generous first. And saving teaches money management skills at an early age. These are life-long skills that if you can help your child master at a young age they will have a better chance at being financially responsible at a young age.
8. Make them wait.
If your child is desperate for the latest and greatest toy that their neighbor has, make them wait to save up their spending allowance to let them buy it. Chances are they will be over it in a week and on to a new toy.
In the meantime, they have learned patience.
9. Be honest with them.
My children know that I failed a test when I chose to only do the cliff notes version of a book.
They know their dad has had to pay for more than one window he broke with a baseball.
We want them to learn from our mistakes, not make our mistakes again.
10. Model it.
This is the MOST important piece of advice.
My husband and I work hard for what we have, we are generous with our time and faithful to our budget. They can see the effort we give to things and we can share with them our victories and celebrate how our hard work paid off together.