7 Strategies to Make Sure Your Kids Aren’t Entitled

Entitled Kids

I’m a good person, so I deserve good things to happen to me. Well…no, that’s not how that works. No one really deserves anything. You earn everything. Some might argue with me on this one, and that’s all right.

We can agree to disagree on this argument because that’s how being an adult works. I grew up with a girl – now obviously a woman – who likes to use the phrase “I deserve” like I use air to breathe.

She deserves everything, in her opinion, because she feels she’s a good person. She felt that her brother marrying a wealthy woman was something he deserved because he’s a good person. It strikes a chord with me because that simply isn’t what deserving means.

Entitled Kids

Deserving something means you are worthy of it – read: You earned it. Someone earned a promotion because of their hard work. You don’t deserve one. You earned good grades because you studied hard and put forth the work to make it happen.

People don’t earn a wealthy spouse. Living with the idea that the world owes you anything because of your existence is a dangerous way of life, and it’s rarely beneficial to a child.

In our home, we believe that people deserve specific things, yes – respect until it’s no longer warranted, trust until it’s broken, and love, always. But even those things must be earned if they are broken (not love…love just is). Our kids life a fortunate life, but our goal is to ensure they’re not entitled.

Entitled Kids

What Does it Mean to be Entitled?

According to the dictionary, being entitled means “believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment”. Again, let’s get back to earning things. People are not inherently deserving of anything.

They work to earn the right to deserve privileges and special treatment, and that’s how people learn to become good, kind, awesome people.

And now to really ruffle some feathers – entitled kids are the direct result of their parents. If your kids are entitled, it’s because you taught them this belief. There is a common misconception that entitled kids are those who are born into privileged families – whether that is by fame, fortune, or whatnot.

The truth, however, is that children learn entitlement from their parents. If your parenting method involves giving your children anything and everything they want, caving to their expectations, and handling all problems they encounter in life so they needn’t, chances are good your kids will be entitled.

Entitled children feel that they deserve everything from tangible items to opportunities, and they aren’t concerned with earning those things. “I want to go to Harvard, and I deserve it because my grandmother went there,” without good grades and work ethic, is a great example.

On the flip side of that is, “I want to go to Harvard, so I spent my entire academic career busing my a** to make good grades, participating in sports and activities, volunteering, and doing everything that the university looks for when they are accepting new students.” Do you see the distinction?

Entitled Kids

The Dangers of Raising Entitled Children

  • They don’t handle it well when they’re told no
  • Entitled kids do not respect authority or rules
  • Entitled kids show narcissistic personality traits
  • Kids who are entitled think they should always get their way
  • Entitled kids struggle for form good relationships with others
  • Kids who are entitled struggle to do anything for themselves
  • They don’t know how to deal with any problems they encounter
  • They expect everyone to bend over backward to accommodate them
  • Entitled kids feel as if they are above ‘regular’ things such as being helpful or kind

Entitled Kids

Don’t Feel Guilty About Giving Your Kids A Great Life

Before we get into the different strategies to prevent raising entitled children, please understand you can give your children the world and still raise good kids. Entitlement is not a monetary value.

Entitlement is not defined by the size of your bank account, the clothes you wear, the cars you drive, the home you live in, the vacations you take. Entitled behavior is a learned behavior, and it might not have a darn thing to do with any thing monetary or even material. Take your kids on vacations.

Make memories with them. Buy your daughter the Range Rover when she turns 16. Do what you want to do when you raise your kids, but make sure they’re not entitled – you can have everything in the world and still not be an entitled jerk. Here’s how you make sure it happens.

Entitled Kids

1. Let Your Kids Face Natural Consequences

No, I don’t love seeing my kids upset, in trouble, or hurting. But they have to learn for themselves that when they do something wrong, there are consequences for their actions. If my husband and I swoop in and fix their problems for them, what do they learn? They learn that they are entitled to a free pass for any poor choices they make because mom and dad will come in, fix the problem, and make it go away.

Entitled Kids

2. Require Your Children to Perform Regular Chores and Tasks

I don’t love the word chores, so I don’t use it in my house. My husband is very similar in his beliefs about chores, too. Growing up, neither of us had chores. We had responsibilities. It was our responsibility to keep clean bedrooms, clean our bathrooms, do our laundry when we were old enough, and to clean up behind ourselves.

Keeping our vehicles clean and our school work organized were also expectations and responsibilities. Those things are not chores when you become an adult. They’re everyday tasks you do because you are responsible for your home and your clothing, your vehicle, and your work. So why make them into chores for a child? They are not things you no longer have to do when you grow up and make your own decisions – you still do them.

Kids who have household responsibilities tend to appreciate things more. They do not feel they are above mundane tasks. It teaches your kids to take care of their belongings and their home, and it teaches them to develop a sense of responsibility. Those things are components of raising kids who don’t feel at all entitled.

And don’t feel guilty if you outsource. We do outsource many things. As the parents of four kids with businesses to run and a home to maintain, we outsource things that take too much time for us. We have someone take care of our lawn, and we have a cleaning company who comes in twice a month – but they don’t do our laundry.

They do the mundane stuff (and not because we are above it but because we don’t have the time to deep clean the baseboards and the ceiling fans and the blinds in a home large enough for six people and still attended games and events, sleep, and eat). Our kids are responsible for their own bedrooms. They make their beds, put their laundry away, clean their rooms and bathrooms, and they clean up after themselves when they eat or play. They help set the table and clean up after dinner, etc.

Entitled Kids

3. Teach Your Children that Life is Not Always Fair

Entitled children feel that everything is fair all the time. It’s not. Life is not always fair. People get sick. Bad things happen to good people. There is no such thing as fair, and children should understand this lest they become entitled enough to think that they should be given everything, all the time, any time they want it.

Entitled Kids

4. Enforce Rules and Boundaries

Kids need rules. It’s how they learn. Rules and boundaries are non-negotiable. It’s true that there will be times in life when breaking the rules is the best option and it is not something the kids do for spite, but kids still need rules. Situations can be discussed, and things can be handled in a case-by-case basis, but the general consensus is that kids need rules. When they don’t have rules and boundaries, they don’t learn right from wrong, behaved from not behaved, and they feel entitled to live life how they want rather than how they should as children.

Entitled Kids

5. Set Expectations

This is not the same thing as enforcing rules or responsibilities. Expectations are clear, set in stone, and they are instilled into your children regularly. Perhaps this is controversial in a world where everyone wants things fair and the same and equal and blah blah, boring blah – we expect our children to perform well in school. There is no other option. Performing poorly in school is not an option in our home.

Cue the every child learns differently and not all kids do well in school police. Sorry, Karens, but our kids wake up each morning with the understanding that we expect them to perform well in school. They know that they will behave, they will follow the rules, they will treat others with kindness and respect, and they will put forth the effort and do the very best of their ability on every assignment.

We know our kids – and we know their abilities. Each of our children is capable of excelling in school. It’s easier for some than others, but they all put in the work to succeed because they weren’t given other options.

When kids know your expectations, they’ll do what they need to do to meet them. If you don’t set expectations, what do they have to strive for? Teaching them young that you expect certain behavior is a good thing. For example, you do expect your children to use their manners when speaking to others, do you not?

Of course, you do. You would be horrified if your child looked an adult who handed them a gift and said, “I hate this,” rather than, “Thank you for the gift, and for thinking of me,” even though they hate it. It’s called expectation, and it’s necessary to prevent entitlement.

Entitled Kids

6. Teach Your Kids to Earn Things

There are things in life we give our kids because we love them and want them to be happy. There are things we give them because they need them. On the flip side, there are also things we do for them because it’s their birthday or a holiday. However, there are other things that they want in life that they need to earn.

Our daughter, for example, turns 15 this year. She is obsessed with Lululemon athleisure and Golden Goose sneakers. She’s free to go into my closet with my permission to borrow my sneakers anytime she wants.

If she wants an expensive pair of her own Golden Goose sneakers, however, she has to earn them. She has to babysit to earn her own money to buy them. My husband and I don’t just hand out $600 sneakers to kids who aren’t yet 15.

We did purchase iPads for all the kids, but they have to earn a new one if they damage or break theirs. We don’t just hand out new iPads when the kids aren’t careful to take care of their items.

Teaching children to earn things that they really want by working for it is a great way to forgo entitlement. Trust me, when kids have to save up $600 for a pair of sneakers or $1000 on an electronic, they tend to treat those things with a great deal of respect – not entitlement.

Entitled Kids

7. Teach Your Kids the Art of Appreciation

Some kids have more than other kids, but that doesn’t make them entitled. Not appreciating what they have is what makes a child entitled. Children who are grateful for what they have are happier than children who are unhappy with what they have. There is an old saying that I’m about to butcher.

It’s something like, “Be grateful for what you have now while working for what you still want,” or something to that effect. Essentially, the concept is this: You have to be happy with what you have now while you work for what you want most. If you don’t show gratitude for what you have, you’ll never feel it.

This goes along with money doesn’t buy happiness, and no one else can make you happy but yourself. Those are all good life lessons, and being grateful for what you have is always a good attitude.

You can still want a million things more while being grateful for what you have now. Teaching kids to practice gratitude is a lovely way of keeping entitlement off the agenda.

Furthermore, it’s not too late to change the attitude of an entitled child. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’ll suck. It won’t be easy, and you’re going to want to pull your hair out (please don’t…good hair is so hard to come by), but it can be done. Good luck, and to borrow a phrase from the awful Effie Trinkett from The Hunger Games, “May the odds be ever in your favor.” I know you just read that with her accent, too.

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