Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

How To Help Your Kids Avoid Unhealthy Entitlement

Ever been around a child, your own or otherwise, who kept demanding their own way, expecting the same things they got last time or requiring that they be first, in the best group or get the biggest piece of pie?

Of course, some reactions of children are just that - childish. We can't expect them to all of a sudden become adult-like and always give others first place. But our culture today seems to be fostering more and more the idea that everyone should get what they want, when they want it and how they want it.

I happen to frequent Starbucks and other coffee shops. And most similar establishments have followed Starbucks lead in allowing customers to pretty much have their coffee anyway they like it. 

I could talk in detail about how television, smartphones, shopping venues and game options all now give us unparalleled choices of what WE want when we want it. We don't even have to watch or enjoy live entertainment at the time it's presented. It will pretty much always be available somewhere, sometime when it's convenient for us.

Those examples and so many others in education, the community, etc. that provide the same kind of immediate benefits, only increase the possibilities that our children will learn to expect immediate gratification.

So, how do we as parents avoid the tendencies that our children can embrace to live largely entitled lives, especially when we are trying to help them learn to put others first, serve those around them and learn that giving is better than receiving?

First, teach them that all entitlement isn't bad?  We are entitled to feel good about ourselves, to serve others, to not be abused by others, to make choices even when others disagree. Lots of entitlements are good ones. Help them learn the difference.

Second, however, don't give your kids everything. All new versions, updates, models, etc. aren't necessary to be happy, acceptable in school or cool. Children need to also learn to make do, take care of what they have and invest in their own possessions that are special to them.

Third, start your kids and family serving others early. The familiar maxim, It is better to give than to receive, is really true. And do this sooner rather than later. Kids in elementary school and younger are more likely to welcome these opportunities allowing them to become the norm rather than something weird.

Finally, spend regular time being thankful.  Mealtimes are great places to give everyone a chance now and then to talk about something they are thankful for that day. Don't wait to only do this on holidays - make it a regular activity.

If left to their own devices and thinking, kids are going to naturally want more. There's only one place where it's effective to give them another, healthier, others-focused perspective. Our house. Start now.

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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