It is the instinct of every parent to want to give his or her child everything because it is indeed what they deserve. However, over the years, it has become increasingly evident that giving a child the rich life tends to turn them into entitled children. These children tend to act like the world owes them, and no parent would ever want their children to turn out like that. If anything, we want our children to grow up knowing how important hard work is to getting what they want.
The thing is, we can still give kids a rich life without them turning into the entitled brats we’re only all-too familiar with. Here are some tips on doing just that.
1. Don’t equate love/attention with possessions
You children need your love and attention, but you’re too busy trying to provide a comfortable for life them, so what do you do? You buy them things to make up for your absence. Remember, material possessions will never become a good enough substitute for spending time with your children. If there is something that your kids are entitled to, it’s your love and attention, so be more preoccupied with giving your child your presence, not presents.
2. Empower your kids to work for their own stuff
While it is our duty to teach our children the value of money, shaming them when they point to something they want you to buy for them at a toy store is hardly the ideal direction to take. Lecturing him or her about money not growing on trees or telling them off that they don’t seem to get enough stuff only gives your child the impression that you’re accusing him or her of being greedy. Worse, you are effectively telling your child that he or she doesn’t deserve that stuff. That makes your child feel powerless to get what he or she wants, and that will breed resentment in your child.
Neither should you use the opportunity to buy the stuff on the condition that he/she be good for a week. That is bribery, which creates expectations for rewards with just about everything he/she does in life.
The best thing you can do for your child would be to acknowledge the request, and make him/her understand that buying it is not in your plans for the day, but you can get it for his/her birthday. While you’re at it, inspire your child that there’s a possibility he/she can get that stuff earlier, and that’s by doing some extra chores around the house, or doing paid chores for neighbours like walking the dog or shoveling snow. That empowers them, and teaches them a lifelong lesson about the value of hard work and that to get anything they want—from the smallest stuff to their biggest dreams—they have to work hard for it. Even if you consider your family well-off and your children don’t need to work, every child needs to experience how it is to earn money by themselves.
3. Teach your child accountability
Kids are expected to break, damage or lose stuff. Instead of letting them off the hook, how about making them accountable for the damage or the loss? That way, they will never assume that someone else will buy replacements, and that they will learn how to value things that they have. The same applies if your child breaks a neighbour’s window with a baseball or damages a borrowed book. While some parents may think of making them pay for broken or lost stuff as mean, making them accountable can be done without being mean. Put it in the context of teaching a lesson, and your child will learn from it.
4. Teach your kids the lesson that happiness can’t be bought
Watch enough TV these days and you’ll discern the message that getting more money and getting more material possessions should be our goal in life. With television playing a major role in teaching our children—whether you like it or not—this message certainly reaches our children, and will make them think that it’s all true, that happiness in life can only be achieved if you have all the money to buy all the things you want. This message is nothing but destructive, and we must actively work to prevent it from getting into our kids’ heads.
5. Help your child realize rewards come in many different forms
Whether we like it or not, most children associate material things with rewards. That’s just how they are initially wired, after a lifetime of pursuing toys, gadgets or anything they want by doing well in school or by just being an all-around good boy or girl. What you need to do then is help your child discover that there are other rewards to pursue that don’t involve shopping or acquisition of stuff. We’re talking about emotional rewards, the kind that we get after the pursuit of mastery in things that we’re passionate about. Make your child experience the rush that comes after finally nailing that crossover move in basketball, or successfully mastering a piano piece, or baking a perfect cake. Being passionate about something helps a child build resilience and helps wire his brain to become fulfilled by non-material things.
In case you haven’t noticed by now, this article does not, in any way, shape or form, condemn kids who fit our description of “entitled”. That’s because you can’t really blame them if they act entitled because they are being raised in a culture of entitlement, whether we admit it or not. As far as many of them are concerned, they have been raised in a culture where it’s more important to acquire possessions than to develop their own gifts and help make the world a better place.
Parents are the most likely to take the blame for the existence of entitled kids, particularly those who just give their kids stuff just to give them the connection and validation they need. Fortunately, it’s not too late to change all that. All the tips enumerated above all do work to raise children who are not entitled, but give them a rich life just the same. Give them a try, and you’ll see how they can help make life better for you and your children.