How to Avoid Raising an Entitled Child

“Kids these days…”

It seems like every old generation thinks the new generation is over privileged and undeserving. How many times have you heard your parents tell you how lucky you are because they never had what you had when they were your age? And dang it! I’ve been known to pull that same stunt on my boys, too. But for most of the time, whenever I look at my children’s generation of consumerism and excess all before they even know the meaning of money, I try to reserve judgement because I am mindful that their world is as different from ours as ours was from our parents.

And yet…

I noticed it when people I knew were complaining about the poor work ethics of the new generation of employees. These are some of the behaviours that had been observed:

  • they rock up late for interviews – that’s if they even bother to turn up at all
  • their parents had to secure the interview
  • when they are offered the job, they don’t bother to call to say they don’t want it, they simply don’t turn up for work
  • if they do turn up for work and find it isn’t what they were expecting, they disappear from the job and never bother to inform their bosses they want out

When I first heard about it, I thought it was just a random occurrence. Then more people mentioned it was also happening to them and I began to wonder what was with this entitlement attitude? Where was it coming from and why was it happening? Being a parent of a new generation, I had to get to the bottom of this so I could, hopefully, avoid making the same mistakes with my own children.

The Entitlement Generation

Search “entitlement generation” on Google and you’ll come up with a list of articles referring to Generation Y. According to Huffpost, they are a group who are wildly ambitious but delusional about their actual abilities. They have been labeled the “entitlement generation” because they think they deserve more than they get but do not believe in putting the work in to get it. Despite their high self-esteem, they are often unhappy because they feel life has short-changed them and that they deserve much more than what’s been handed to them.

Is this a fair depiction of this generation? Some Gen Yers will disagree, but the statistics from a series of surveys indicate that it is so:

  • In a measure of psychological entitlement and narcissism, Gen Y respondents scored 25 percent higher than respondents ages 40 to 60 and a whopping 50 percent higher than those over 61.
  • Gen Yers are characterized by a “very inflated sense of self” that leads to “unrealistic expectations” and, ultimately, “chronic disappointment.”
  • Today’s 20-somethings have an “automatic, knee-jerk reaction to criticism,” and tend to dismiss it. “Even if they fail miserably at a job, they still think they’re great at it.”
  • When it comes to work, the two things Gen Yers care most about are high salaries, and lots of leisure time off the job.

I won’t debate about how much of this really applies to Generation Y. Let’s just agree that there are enough people around who behave like this, and as parents raising a new generation of children, I’m sure we do not want our children growing up to become like this.

Where Does This Attitude Come From?

This entitled attitude is believed to be the result of a parenting style that was too hung up on developing children’s “self-esteem”.

In the 1980s world of child rearing, the catchword was “self-esteem.” Unconditional love and being valued “just because you’re you!” was the prevailing philosophy. In practice, it involved constantly praising children, not criticizing them under any circumstances, emphasizing feelings, and not recognizing one child’s achievements as superior to another’s. At the end of a season, every player “won” a trophy. Instead of just one “student of the month,” schools named dozens. Teachers inflated grades from kindergarten through college: “C” became the new “F.” No one ever had to repeat a grade because staying behind caused poor self-esteem. – Aspen Education Group

Source: Pinterest – Angelique Essenstam

What Can We Do to Avoid This?

The recommendation has been to:

  • set limits on spending by giving an allowance
  • allow our children to face the natural consequences of their actions
  • teach emotional intelligence – help them to understand the viewpoints of others
  • praise effort rather than ability
  • let children earn self-esteem from their own efforts – don’t lower the bar so they can reach it, let them work for it

In other words, we need to allow our children to experience the negatives in life rather than always shielding them from it. We need to let them face adversity so they know what it means to fail, to struggle, and to suffer disappointment. This is probably one of the hardest things a parent will ever have to do for their children.

“Children are people, and they should have to reach to learn about things, to understand things, just as adults have to reach if they want to grow in mental stature. Life is composed of lights and shadows, and we would be untruthful, insincere, and saccharine if we tried to pretend there were no shadows. Most things are good, and they are the strongest things; but there are evil things too, and you are not doing a child a favor by trying to shield him from reality. The important thing is to teach a child that good can always triumph over evil.” – Walt Disney Company

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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