It is only natural that we want our children to be happy. Seeing a smile on their little faces is payment for all the hard work that we do. The problem comes when we begin doing whatever it takes to see that smile.
Falling into this pattern could mean your child learns that just by turning on the waterworks they can get whatever they want. Whether it is the latest toy or an extra hour of playtime before bed, a few tears and it’s theirs. How are we to teach them they they can’t always get what you want? That they are not entitled to it?
Here are five solutions that when implemented consistently will help your child to realize they are not king or queen of the world. I will warn you: not all these solutions are going to be quick and easy. But they will be worth the work.
5. Be willing to be different
“Everyone in my class has a cell phone besides me” or “Johnny has a scooter, why can’t I have one” If you are immediately running to the store after hearing this—don’t. Children need to understand the value of money and how hard you work for that money.
If your child really wants something, allow them to earn it. This will make the item even more valuable to them and will show them they don’t get something just because someone else has it.
Any parent knows that setting limits and establishing consequences for kids is hard work. The good news is that providing structure for your kids now can help them have an easier time later in life. After all, how many entitled adults do you know who seem truly happy?
4. Allow them to resolve conflict
Trust me, I know that this is not an easy one—especially when you know that your child is in the right. That mama bear protector comes out and before you know what’s happened you’re saying “He did have the toy first, could you please give it back?” or “I know she did her homework last night, so she should get the credit.”
When you consistently intervene for your children, you are denying them opportunities to learn how to solve problems on their own. Instead, you are teaching them that it is someone else’s responsibility to fix their problems.
3. Be consistent with rules
If children are allowed to break rules, they begin to believe that they are above the rules. They will also have a hard time differentiating which rules are flexible and which are not.
For instance, if they are allowed to walk on the grass even when there is a sign that says “keep off.” they may develop a “you can’t tell me what to do” sort of attitude. Author and speaker, Donna Jones describes the problem this way:
Entitlement isn’t merely a function of giving our kids too much stuff; it’s also a function of failing to give our kids the stuff they really need: parental guidance, wisdom, and direction. With a little know-how and effort, we can turn the tide of entitlement.
2. Don’t allow children to interrupt
Interrupting gives an impression that what you have to say is more important than what the person who is speaking has to say. If a child interrupts you mid-conversation with another adult and you address their need before finishing your sentence, you have put them above you.
Talk with your child about appropriate ways get your attention, like placing a hand on your arm. Then have them wait until you are ready to address them. Not only will be they learn to practice patience at the same time, they may even be more well-liked as an adult.
“Give me the pencil” versus “Will you please give me the pencil?” Not only is the second a more polite way to speak to someone, it also shows that there is a question of whether they will receive the pencil.
By making the child say please you are causing them to recognize that they may be told no. When they say thank you, they are expressing appreciation that they did in fact get what they wanted. If there was never any risk, they will not see it as a reward.
And here’s something super cute – children going out of their way to do nice things for others. This will put a smile on your face:
Photo by Leonid Mamchenkov