We all have "What were we thinking?" parenting moments. We let our kids watch another TV program instead of reading, or we continue to feed the fish and clean out the long forgotten goldfish bowl. All just to avoid another war with them.
Most of us have probably gone a similar route rather than trying to change our kids' behaviour.
There's nothing wrong with helping our kids out with their chores every now and again — but when our "helping" and "allowing" become the norm, we're encouraging the entitlement attitude to thrive!
Many parents recognize the signs of entitlement in their kids. These are kids who won't help out around the house, but expect to receive everything they want. They rarely show gratitude and empathy and simply demand more and more!
Entitlement is not an overnight development. Rather the seeds of entitlement are grown and tendered over the years by many parenting decisions — all made in the name of love. Sometimes a few new parenting techniques can make a big difference. Here are some common entitlement parenting styles that I see in my clinic, as well as a few suggestions for how to change them:
1. The "Let's Keep them Happy No Matter What!" Parent
If you allow your kids to get out of practice sessions, or are constantly writing excuses for your child why they haven't completed their homework, you might be the "Let's keep them happy no matter what!" type of parent.
When we do everything to help our kids avoid unhappiness or disappointment, we teach them that their happiness is above all. Kids ask what they can get out of a situation every time they're asked to behave or show kindness. Then, when they face life's challenges, like not receiving a high grade on a test, they're not able to manage and they judge themselves as failures.
Ask your kids why they think they received a low grade? What can they learn by having received a low grade? Do they need help understanding the material? What do they think they can do better to improve the grade next time?Then, help them to develop develop strategies for overcoming difficulties.
They may need extra tutoring. They may be spending an entire afternoon on homework with many interruptions. Maybe they need to spend 30 minutes on focused work without looking at their cell phones or speaking to friends.
This parenting strategy means you give kids what they're due - your love and undivided attention every day. Parents tell me this tool works magically for them. Simply spend at least 10 minutes each day with each child, taking an interest in their day, sharing your day or doing whatever it is they want to do during that time. Do this on a daily basis, and watch entitlement disappear. Your kids will stop trying to get your attention in negative ways (like tantrums and negotiating) when they know they'll get it in positive ways.
Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.
William Arthur Ward
2. The Enabling Parent
If your 19 year old expects you to wake her up each morning, or your 10 year old always gets you to pack up his toys, then you might be an enabler parent.
Enabling can get out of hand if you're always preparing your 15 year olds school lunches, or putting dirty clothes in the washing machine for your 9 year old because it's simpler than dealing with the complaining and negotiating.
If you feel annoyed or irritated by your kids expectations of you and their ingratitude for what you do do for them, you might want to make some changes.
Tell your kids. "You're really capable enough to prepare your own school lunches. I'll be happy to prepare for you on say Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the rest of the week is up to you. You can give me a grocery list of foods you'd like me to buy and have in the house for you to choose from."
Make it clear by when the grocery list must be ready as well as what constitutes acceptable foods to buy.
3. The Savior Parent
If your child can't remember when his library book is due back or to go to his private tutor, unless you remind him , you might be a "savior" parent.
You know that your child is capable of remembering to take his sport shoes to school. However, he never seems to and then he feels that you should deliver them to when he's forgotten. Whatever it is that you feel you need to frantically step in and "save" such as a last minute attempt to finish a project on time, iron a shirt before an important interview, you may need to back off and let your child take the consequences for his poor time management, lack of effort or forgetfulness.
Start telling your kids that you will not be available for last minute deliveries. (of course there are exceptions because we all slip up at times).Brainstorm ways to keep track of responsibilities. Don't be afraid to let them face the music by themselves and soon you'll see them start to follow through.
4. The Indulging Parent
If your 12 year old demands to go out for ice cream with friends before the agreed upon time and wins, or your 5 year old will only eat dinner after having been given a treat, you might be an indulgent parent.
It's our role as parents to set appropriate boundaries that we believe will benefit our children's behaviour. Children who see themselves as entitled usually don't think they have to follow the rules.
In order to help change this behaviour, we have to be consistent with the rules we set and ignore protests, tantrums, negotiations and whining.
Give your children lots of opportunities to take control of their lives in ways which are appropriate for their age and stage. Allow them to choose which after school sports or exercise programs they would like to participate in; by what time they would like to finish their homework 5 or 6 in the evening?
This gives our children a sense of control and responsibility over their lives. And this in turn makes them much more likely to comply with non-negotiable rules such as screen times or curfews.
5. The "No Limits" Parent
If you go out of your way to make sure your children have every possible gadget and toy to ensure the best childhood ever, you may be a "no limits" parent.
Not providing the latest cell phone, designer clothing in childhood will make for more contented and happier children as they grow up. Include your kids in your expressions of gratitude and appreciation. Share with them daily what you appreciate about them and your day.
Whatever your parenting style, you can make your children more appreciative, grateful and kind by using these strategies. You and your kids will be happier for it.