Remember that child in the store, the one begging his parents for the latest video game and spewing forth reasons why he deserved it, including the fact he was the only child he knew without it? Remember the shock you felt watching the parents break down and purchase the game, essentially rewarding their offspring for his noxious tirade and leaving you to wonder how a child had earned such a false sense of entitlement?
Of course you remember…because the child was yours and the parent was you.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Most parents have been in that kind of situation and, honestly, most of us act entitled more frequently than we care to admit.
“We say, ‘I’ve got to go to the mall’ or ‘I need coffee,’ ” says Karen Deerwester, parenting expert and author of “The Entitlement-Free Child.” “We all know what that feels like. But adults have the self-control—the buzzword these days is ‘executive function’—that allows us to hold it together for an hour.”
Kids don’t have that self-control, so it’s understandable why parents may give in to their demands. Because a child who feels entitled and deserving is a tough foe, and today’s information-packed, 24/7 society that targets children as a marketing demographic doesn’t help, either.
“The digital age and the speed with which we communicate have never been faster, creating a culture where parents are getting the message of, ‘If you don’t give [your child] this, you’re a bad parent,’ ” says Joan Keefe, senior parenting coach at Thruways, a Maine company that operates EmpoweringParents.com, a website and parent support line. “And kids are getting the message, ‘If I don’t have this, I’m not good enough,’ ”
The key to raising kids without a false sense of entitlement, she says, is to teach responsibility and respect for one’s self and for others, and to practice restraint and a good work ethic. If anything, children need to learn the importance of working hard to achieve goals in life, Keefe says.
“You have a huge opportunity to influence your child in the right direction,” she says.
“You have more control than you think you do.”
By // Gremlyn Bradley-Waddell
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