By Cathi Bond
It seems that the kids raised in today’s society are taught to think and act more entitled than ever before. Where has this come from, and why is so entrenched in our society? In her article entitled “Narcissistic Children and Teens: Does Your Child Act Entitled?” Janet Lehman, MSW states, “There are a few reasons why kids are behaving in a more entitled way these days: parents are working harder and longer than before, and are generally more stressed out. When you are exhausted and overwhelmed, it can be easier to give in than to fight with your kids. [It’s also] natural to want our kids to have what we didn’t…when we were growing up, and it feels good to give them things when we can. On top of all that, modern technology has changed the pace of our expectations. Texting, email, and the internet have made everything move at warp speed.” Lehman believes that children today are not accustomed to waiting for things, the expectation and pace of gratification has exploded, and parents don’t know what to do about it.
Shi Li, author of “It’s all about me, me, me! Why children are spending less time doing household chores,” feels that this entitlement epidemic is due to a change in parenting style. “Nowadays children are no longer perceived as contributors whose work is essential for the survival of the family and its ability to thrive. Parental focus has shifted from the development of family responsibility to the development of children’s happiness and success.” Li suggests that this shift in parental focus has resulted in a sense of entitlement in children instead of cultivating responsibility. Less than 30% of parents today ask their children to do household chores, and according to Richard Rende, a developmental psychologist, “Parents today want their kids spending time on things that can bring them success, but ironically, we’ve stopped doing the one thing that’s actually been a proven predictor of success – and that’s household chores.”
What can we do as parents to help our children become more gracious and less entitled? Candance Johnson, in her article “9 Secrets to Raising Gracious Children, In a Completely Entitled World,” said, “We hurt our children if we let them lead entitled lives. We will enrich our children and their future success if we teach them how to be deserving of what life has to offer.” Johnson suggests we let our children be bored. “Constantly entertaining your children will not serve them well as they enter adulthood… (boredom) gives children the power to choose for themselves how they will structure and manage their time.” Other suggestions include allowing children to fail (within reason), monitoring screen time, giving chores, and finally, serving as a family. “Serving others, especially those who don’t have as much as you, allows your children to gain compassion. Children are bound to feel less entitled if they serve a family who has less than they do.”
As parents, we can empower our children to become gracious by teaching them the value of hard work and allowing them to learn that the satisfaction that follows earning something is sweeter than receiving without effort.