Are you raising narcissistic and entitled children without realizing it? If you believe your kids aren’t appreciative and grateful for what they have and are becoming progressively spoiled, then here’s how you can change such thought and behavior patterns.
What does it mean to be entitled?
To put it simply, it refers to an individual’s inappropriate, undeserved and unreasonable expectations for special treatment and privileges from others. They want the best things in life to be handed to them without questions or any effort as they truly believe they deserve it. According to a 2016 study, “Psychological entitlement is a personality trait characterized by pervasive feelings of deservingness, specialness, and exaggerated expectations.” However, such self-perceptions of being special with a sense of “inflated deservingness” can lead to a lot of distress, ego threat, disappointment, a sense of injustice, poor relationships, conflicts and even depression due to unmet expectations.
Childhood is a difficult time riddled with challenging behavior that can test the patience of even the best of parents. Children scream, shout, cry, whine, nag, beg, demand and fight. Being drowned in a sea of incessant frustrating behaviors, it can often be difficult for most parents to understand if their child is entitled and will grow up to be a narcissist or if it is simply a phase that will soon fade away. However, if your child doesn’t feel grateful at all for all that you do for them, repeatedly acts out, has a bad attitude, behaves in an increasingly spoiled manner and constantly demands special treatment, then it’s time for you to take notice.
Read also: How Parents Create Narcissistic Children
Is your child entitled?
Social psychologist and author Susan Newman, Ph.D. explains “when children receive everything they want, we feed into their sense of entitlement – and feelings of gratitude fall by the wayside.” When we as parents do everything to make them happy in every moment without teaching them the value of hard work, we keep them from being grateful and appreciating all the good things they already have.
Entitlement begins with over-praising, over-pampering, over-protecting and over-indulging as parents. The harder we try to protect our children from challenges and obstacles, the more we prevent them from being independent and resilient by learning from their mistakes.
Here are a few signs that your child has entitlement issues as laid down by author Amy McCready in her book, “The Me, Me, Me Epidemic: A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World” –
- Self-centered or selfish
- Refuses to help others
- Inability to cope with disappointment
- Expects or demands rewards for good conduct
- Easily shifts blame to others for their own mistakes
- Expects loved ones to save them from problems
- No concern or respect for rules
- Continuously demands more from parents & others
- Expects a bribe or treat to do tasks
If you can identify some or most of these signs in your child, then you just might be raising an entitled, and probably narcissistic, kid. But there’s no need to worry as you can still take steps to curb their sense of entitlement by making them more grateful in life.
How to make entitled kids grateful
Once you realize that your kid has a strong sense of entitlement, you may feel overwhelmed. But you need to understand that it does not necessarily mean you’re a bad parent. However, it does mean that you need to get serious about your child’s behavior and take some positive steps to help them learn about gratitude. Research shows that there is a significant relationship between gratitude & happiness in kids by the age of 5 years. Studies also show that feeling grateful and counting blessings are “associated with enhanced self-reported gratitude, optimism, life satisfaction, and decreased negative affect,” in early adolescents.
Hence, teaching your child to be more grateful, encouraging them to say “thank you” more often and asking them to be gentle with others can be a great way to prevent them from feeling entitled. Here’s how to get started –
1. Define clear consequences for their actions
Let your children know that they will have to face consequences for inappropriate actions and attitude. Establish early that their bad behaviors will not go unpunished and you will not tolerate their tantrums, nags or threats. However, it is also important that you follow through when they act out. By facing consequences consistently the children will learn what is acceptable and what is not, which will encourage them to change their behavior. It should be noted that positive reinforcement for desirable behavior is also recommended as it helps in establishing boundaries and future expectations. Studies show that “Positive reinforcement works exceedingly better and faster than punishment.”