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Entitlement-proofing your family

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Raising Resilient and Grateful Children… Entitlement. Isn’t that such a buzzword these days? It’s certainly a word I approach with fear and trembling. The fear that my child would grow up believing that he deserved rather than earned or was blessed. The fear that he would take his opportunities for granted or would lack the imagination to see that others weren’t afforded the same opportunities. Entitlement has been called the biggest parenting problem of our generation. So how can we take steps to avoid falling into the entitlement trap?

  • Help your kids see their place in the family by doing chores. Our son turned two this week and had some new chores added to his chart. I put a lot of emphasis on telling him why these chores are important. While he scoops kibble for the dog, he says, “Important to feed Abby!” He knows that “water helps plants grow.” I want him to see how he fits in to keeping the family running.
  • Give back. At an incredibly early age, I knew that other children did not live like me. My parents were very intentional in exposing me to different cultures and lifestyles. They gave me the space to be upset over inequality and then asked me to come up with my own solutions. By age six, I had written my first letter to the President of the United States on behalf of homeless children in third world countries. There are so many organizations in town that need our help; how can your family get involved? VIEW IDEAS
  • Define wants and needs. Let’s be honest– I have a lot of wants that I call needs. I NEED a new sweater from J.Crew. I definitely need a nap on the weekends. And don’t I need the new iPhone 6? Start monitoring your own language regarding wants and needs, and then watch how your children use those words. Gently reclassify and talk about budgets, allowances, and appropriateness as needed.
  • Make special occasions special. But special doesn’t have to mean material goods or presents. Celebrate in ways that are meaningful to your family. And special occasions don’t need to last forever. For example, birthdays don’t need to mean “birthday weeks.” After all, occasions are made special partly by their rarity!
  • Set goals, struggle, achieve! Whether it’s wanting to buy the latest electronic gadget or learn how to ride horseback, help your children set goals, work through the obstacles, and watch them achieve! Model this in your own life too. This will help them take ownership of those things they want.

Entitlement-proofing your children is not easy! It takes a long-range view of parenting and the willingness to say “no” in the short term. It takes a commitment to raising children who might not have what “everyone else has.” But the reward will be so great when your tweens, teens, and young adults head out into the world with a resilient spirit and a grateful heart.

[AUTHOR: Becca Eliasen]

November 19, 2015

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2 comments

  1. Ashley says:

    Great article Becca! This rings true with me and is especially important to remember during the holiday season. Fewer material items means appreciating those you have and focusing on what matters: relationships. Also, there’s a wonderful cause I’m working on to help connect kids with kids from other cultures around the world. Help teach our kids about appreciating differences and connecting rather than dividing. I encourage everyone to check it out here http://www.VivaKids.TV and help support to make it a reality! Thank you :)

  2. Steve Osterhage says:

    Yes to all of this! I cannot tell you how much entitlement is eroding our families.
    In working with families, I have seen the entitlement trend ascend to epidemic proportions, both in high income demographics like Santa Barbara and in low income ones as well.
    Thank you Becca for these very wise words!! -Steve

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