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Do Your Kids Feel “Entitled”? 4 Tips to Get Them Back on Track

As a parent, there are several things that make us cringe, and the word “entitled” is one of the big ones.  It not only means our children think they are owed something, but most of the time they think we  are the ones from whom it is owed.  How are we to teach them the value and pride of working for those expensive sneakers or meals out with the family?  Dr. James Sutton, author of The Changing Behavior Book: A Fresh Approach to the Difficult Child, has some ideas.  Here’s a few:

  • Don’t over do it.  Wanting your children to have what you didn’t is natural.  However, temper your enthusiasm.  You can create a bigger issue for your children by giving them everything they want.
  • Show them gratitude.  Let them see the other side of life.  Talking about homelessness or volunteering with less fortunate families can be one way to help your children in this department.
  • Make them work for it.  Nothing teaches the value of a dollar better than earning that dollar yourself.  Put your children to work for the things they want.  Extra household chores is one way to do this.  Be careful though.  Giving your child money to just be a productive member of the family or getting good grades can backfire.  They need to know that extra effort is rewarded, otherwise they’ll think they are entitled to a salary just for showing up.
  • Show them the reality of the American dream.  “We started from the bottom now we here,” are popular lyrics from a Drake song, but very rarely do kids hear about how people fell from grace and are no longer collecting large salaries.  Letting them know that just because you get “here” doesn’t mean you get to stay at that level is imperative.  Reading biographies is a great way to exemplify this.  Many encounter setbacks from which they have to rebuild to maintain that American dream.

Children should be told that they deserve the world and it is more than okay to give from your heart when you are in the mood.  It is also just as important to let them know that you had to work for the things they receive and that just because they ask for it doesn’t mean it is theirs.  It is a hard line to walk, but with the tips of Dr. Sutton it can be done such that you aren’t raising entitled children.

A nationally recognized child and adolescent psychologist and speaker, Dr. James Sutton is the author of The Changing Behavior Book: A Fresh Approach to the Difficult Child. He the founder and host of The Changing Behavior Network, a popular internet radio program supporting young people and their families, and every month he publishes The Changing Behavior Digest, offering tips on managing difficult children and teens. Both resources (and others) are available at no cost through his website, http://www.DocSpeak.com.

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