Entitlement can be a fairly subjective term, depending upon our preconceptions and expectations. Generally speaking, entitlement refers to anything that a person receives unconditionally without earning. Before we talk about how to deal with entitlement, let’s clarify what our children should have a reasonable expectation of receiving unconditionally. We may be unintentionally pushing our mentality as parents upon our children. Older generations tend to have come from harder backgrounds and may have a different definition of what children are or are not entitled to from us as parents. We may have to change some of these ideas to help our troubled children.
Children Are Entitled To Things Like:
- Basic needs, like food, clothing, and shelter
- Our children have an expectation of us to provide the basics for us, especially when they are very young
- While we may have gotten jobs when we were their age, did we do so to earn money for basic needs or for extra desires?
- Remember that some people did have to work to help their families provide basic needs when they were growing up
- Unconditional love, support, and encouragement
- Our children need to know that they are loved and that they do not need to “earn” our love
- Children need guidance and support to help them learn to make decisions
- Remember that we are not “raising children” so much as we are teaching them how to be functional and happy adults
- Encourage our children to be independent and to pursue their goals
- Celebrate and praise the small wins as well as greater achievements
- A Feeling of Security
- One of our basic needs as humans is the need for safety and security
- Children should never feel as though they need to “earn” safety or security
- We need to do our best to help our kids feel safe and secure in our homes
Now that we understand more about what our children can rightfully expect from us, we can look at what entitlement really is. Entitlement is the expectation that the world at large owes us everything we want. Entitlement can also be the idea that the rules that everyone else follows do not apply to us. When children feel entitled, they may have a difficult time differentiating between the things that they want versus the things they need. We can help them navigate their wants and needs by teaching our children gratitude.
Gratitude to Combat Entitlement
Gratitude can help to dispel a sense of entitlement in our children by teaching them to focus on the good things that they do have. Entitlement may be coming from our children focusing on a lack. They may be looking at what other kids have and feel jealous. They may feel like things are unfair if others have the things that they want or if others seem to get away with not following the same rules. When we teach our kids to practice gratitude, we can help them notice the good things they have in their lives. Try the following to help your children learn to be grateful for what they have:
- Conversation starters with gratitude
- Ask your kids what they are thankful for each day. You can try this during meals, like breakfast or dinner
- Talk to your kids about the good things that happened to them during the day Ask questions like, “What did you like most about your day today?”
- Point out their strengths
- You can point out their strengths and talents. Express your gratitude for their positive qualities
- Remember not to make them feel as though you only love them because of their strengths. Just get into the habit of looking for these good things and pointing them out to your kids!
- Your kids might need encouragement to keep perspective that things are not so bad if they are struggling with feelings of entitlement
- Set the example
- Talk to your kids about the things that you are grateful for
- Tell them about the good things that happened to you during the day as they share with you about their day
Helping our kids with entitlement might require us to take a step back and look at how we define the word. Are our kids really feeling “entitled” or are some of their basic needs and expectations not being met? We may have an altered sense about what our children are entitled to based upon how we were raised or the life that our parents went through. If your child is struggling with feelings of entitlement, they may be comparing themselves too much with others. Practice gratitude with your kids daily and show appreciation for the little things to help them understand the difference between what they need and what they want.
We may feel like our child is entitled to the things that they actually need to earn. We may need to take a step back and define what “entitlement” means to us. Our children may be entitled to certain things from us as parents. We need to provide for our children, show them encouragement, and give them unconditional love. If our child is struggling with a sense of entitlement, we can teach them to practice gratitude in everyday life. We can do this as an activity with them or use gratitude as a conversation starter. We can set the example by showing our children appreciation for the gifts that they give us. When our children continue to struggle with emotional regulation, we may not be sure what to do. If you are unsure of how to help your child through difficult times and need additional support, call Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center today. We can help you and your family. Call today at (303) 443-3343.