The culture around us has gradually shifted America’s mindset to believing that we all have our rights, including the “right” to have what we want, the way we want it, when we want it. We would call this a sense of entitlement. It’s an attitude that has led many adults to live off government handouts, and many others to think they should have in their 20’s everything that took their parents a lifetime to earn and accumulate.
When it comes to our kids, some are naturally bent more towards a sense of entitlement than others. Of our two oldest, one of them naturally displays more entitlement than the other simply by their personality.
But while a sense of entitlement poses a greater threat to our children in their future as adults than it may right now, the importance of curbing it right now is vital. An attitude of entitlement robs a person of an attitude of gratitude, servant hood, and the desire to work hard for what they have.
However, there are some things that, as parents, we can do to prevent this attitude in our kids that the world around them so naturally tries to instill.
Here are three opportunities you can intentionally give your children to help them avoid an entitlement mentality.
3 Ways to Avoid A Sense of Entitlement
1. WORK HARD for what they want
Whoever said that a child deserves an iPod, tablet, or game system, just because they bear your last name? Is a parent just a Grizzly Gus for refusing to give their kids whatever they want, or are they rather just exercising good and effective parenting skills by laying down some rules and limitations.
The next time your child wants that new “something,” try one of the following:
- Let them work around the house for payment (allowance) on chores completed, etc.
- For certain items, agree to pay for the second half once they have earned the first half. This still puts the ball in their court to take initiative to get what they want.
- Encourage them to learn a trade or develop a talent working or making something that can give them a small income. Our kids have done duct tape pens and wallets as well as mowed lawns and shoveled snow.
It’s good for our kids to earn the things they want by working to get them. That’s called real life.
Don’t expect that your kids can live in fantasy land all their childhood by getting everything they want, and it not affect them when they enter the real world of adulthood someday. The older they get, the more this point applies. As they get older, increase their opportunities to work hard for what they want. It’s a win-win for both of you.
Proverbs 13:11 “Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.”
Ecclesiastes 4:13 “Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king.”
Also, encourage your kids to earn money to pay for gifts they will give to others. This allows them to be the ones to actually give, instead of just mom and dad giving for them.
Secondly, give them opportunities to:
2. GIVE BACK for what they’ve been given
Every child ought not to just expect that being a part of a family means an automatic right to all the benefits of a family without any contribution of their own.
If everyone in the family benefits from food on the table, clean dishes, clean clothes, and many other things, then it’s not too much to expect that everyone can contribute to cleaning off the table, washing the dishes, and folding the clothes, etc.
As much as we love our kids, sometimes we’re guilty to only give, give, give, and rarely expect much contribution in return for the overall good and success of the family. Helping our kids understand their responsibility to give back will be a preventative to an entitlement attitude.
Thirdly, give them opportunities to:
3. EXPRESS THANKS for what they have
In addition to normal times like birthdays and Christmas, there are always going to be people who choose to be generous to your family and your kids. It may be grandparents, friends, or just acquaintances who desire to be a blessing.
In any case, it’s very important to use those opportunities to teach our kids to be intentionally grateful by giving verbal and written expressions of thanks.
Teach your kids that a handwritten note for gifts they receive is still one of the most effective forms of gratitude. Have them make personal phone calls or home visits to people who have done special things for them.
Nothing can seem less appreciated like when someone gives of their time or money to never hear from the person on the receiving end of their sacrifice.
The more we teach our children to be thankful and to express it, the less of a sense of entitlement they will develop.
It’s not hard to spot a sense of entitlement in a child nowadays. You can hear it in their voice and see it on their face from a mile away. And no one enjoys it, not even the child who possesses it. It’s taxing on the child, the parents, and anyone else within earshot.
But on the opposite extreme, how refreshing is it to meet a young person who is willing to work hard, not afraid to give back, and naturally expresses gratitude? I think you’d agree, they’re diamonds in the ruff.
What a blessing we can give to our kids and the people whose paths they will cross in their lives by nurturing into their hearts an attitude of gratitude instead of an attitude of entitlement. The difference between the two is night and day. One looks for opportunities to give while the other seeks only what it can take.
Of the three ways listed above, which one could you implement more into your family life to nurture an attitude of gratitude over a sense of entitlement? You can answer by leaving a comment here.