Entitlement: the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment (ex: “no wonder many kids feel entitled today).
It can be argued that today’s kids are not the same.
Perhaps they have too much; maybe they respect too little. Instead of showing due respect to that hardworking teacher, they’re too busy planning out their next Facebook post or selfie…maybe a Facebook post with a selfie.
Regardless, this isn’t a good path that today’s kids are heading down. Are we being hyperbolic? Perhaps to a degree; but isn’t there some element of truth to this scenario? Can we, as adults, honestly survey the attitudes and behaviors of kids today and tell ourselves that nothing is amiss?
It’s not that parents don’t care, of course. Mothers and fathers love their children. The problem is that they’re often the catalysts – or, at the very least – the enablers of such attitudes and behaviors. And yes, neutrality is a catalyst and enabler. “Standing by” and protesting ignorance is no excuse.
So, what is a parent to do, then? Obviously, don’t rail against social media if you’re posting a status update on Facebook. Don’t scourge a child for wanting a toy when you’re perusing for some useless item (e.g., the “next” iPhone).
In other words, practicing what you preach is a good first step.
Aside from this, we’re kind of out of ideas. So, we call on some very smart folks to explain what we can do to curb this entitlement epidemic.
It’s kind of funny how behavioral science works. The recommendations our readers will see are based on the scientific method, research, analysis. But really, take a look. Couldn’t these scientific conclusions also be a byproduct of just plain ole’ common sense?
Here’s what science says you should do in order to raise less entitled, friendlier, better children:
Experts explain how to curb entitlement in children.
1. We’re not entitled to a great life
The standards that parents set are particularly influential on children. When we show that something is readily available, our kids will act on this suggestion. The result is that children will think more things are available for them than is actually true. This is a direct path to an entitlement mindset.
Make them work for things. Give chores and responsibilities. Show them the dignity that manifests when one must work for something. Responsibility, not entitlement.
2. Teach that expediency is a right that none of us have
Somewhat relative to the first topic, the notion that things are available at-will is a stimulus for entitlement. How many parents have heard the following: “I want this toy,” “I’m want to eat NOW,” “Why do I have to wait?”
In developed societies, acquiring anything that is desired has become so easy. We have 2-day shipping on Amazon, and the nearest Walmart is probably no more than a ten or fifteen minute jaunt in the car. Why? Because people don’t like to wait. We expect the ability to demand what we want, when we want it. It’s a right to most people. That is, unless we’re willing teach and demonstrate that it isn’t.
3. Compare and contrast lifestyles
Regardless of what we may think about our home country, citizens of developed nations have it pretty darn good. Sure, money may be tight and luxuries few and far between. That said, most of us aren’t not starving or lacking the basic necessities of life. Contrast this with some village in Africa somewhere, in which people are forced to walk miles to find the nearest clean water source. Or, where children often die from lack of access to basic medicine.
Sure, these are uncomfortable points of discussion. But teaching children the realities of life in other places can bring about newfound appreciation for the life they already enjoy.
4. Get your kid to think about someone else
Empathy is a wonderful antidote to entitlement. When we’re children, we have the tendency to believe that we’re at the “Center of the Universe.” Is this bad? Not really. Not in and of itself…we simply don’t know any better.
So, how do you teach a child empathy? Well, it requires demonstrable effort from parents, of course. Bring the child to a cause in which you volunteer, for example. Have them watch a video on some person that selflessly have of themselves. There are a ton of ideas, here. The point is to get the child thinking about someone or something other than themselves.
5. Lay off the bribing
For this one, think in terms of an employer with a lot of money on the line. You must hire one of two people to oversee an important role within the organization. Candidate ‘A’ wants and needs the money your company offers, which is their sole reason for wanting the job. Candidate ‘B’ likes the money, of course, but also wants to work for what the company stands for. They’re socially-motivated and maybe a bit money-motivated.
Science says that social motivation is far more impactful than money. For parents, this means tying some reward to behavior that is not money. In other words, don’t give into a child’s root materialism.
Find something else – anything else, really – that stimulates a child’s sense of purpose. Many scientists believe that this motivation to better society lies within the very nature of most human beings. As parents, it’s simply our responsibility to uncover that nature.