Entitlement is a personality trait marked by exaggerated feelings of deservingness, specialness, and unrealistic expectations. Millennials have been scrutinized for their work ethic as they have been labeled as lazy and wanting to take shortcuts. Baby boomers have often said they are a generation that ask for salaries higher than their worth and expect high paying jobs shortly after graduating. Besides entitlement being an unwanted descriptive word of any millennial, the consequences of being entitled run deeper emotionally. When an individual is constantly feeling like they are owed something, they are bound to be disappointed. They are also likely to have a difficult time maintaining relationships as they place unrealistic and high expectations of those around them. People may grow tired of the demands of this type of friend or colleague and feel it is not reciprocated.
There are various reasons why entitlement is on the rise. Today’s parents in general, overly pamper and overly praise their children. We are taught from a very early age that we are special. Are we supposed to stop thinking that then? When does it go from normal childhood commentary to realizing we are just 1 of 7.5 billion people on the planet and well actually we aren’t that different at all.
The goal here is not to stop praising your child, however keeping that praise specific is where the change lies. Praise can be very rewarding especially to a young mind who is just developing their sense of self and identity. When you speak to a child, keep your praise specific and focus on their effort, tailored to the individual. For example, instead of saying “You are amazing on the basketball court,” one could say “You are dribbling the ball with much more control these days.” Schools have been criticized for handing out trophies and awards for children just to show up and participate. Today’s generation of parents are overly invested in their children’s success often known as “helicopter parenting.” Although the intention is all done out of love, when we attempt to safeguard our children from adversity we are robbing their growth of resiliency. If parents are not allowing their children to feel disappointment then this may result in children who always expect to get what they want and when they want it.
Saying “No” to your child will not harm them. I repeat saying “No” to you child will not harm them. Parents have an expectation to set limits and boundaries for their children. It is natural for a child to test those limits and use different tactics to get you to change your mind. They are learning how to communicate and get what they want. However, it is not their responsibility to know when something is too much or over the top, that is a parent’s job to teach to their child. Parent-guilt can be quite overwhelming as parents want their children to be happy. Furthermore, parents may be fighting their own emotions of guilt as they are working and feeling bad they aren’t able to spend as much time as they want with their children. Overcompensating with material goods or giving in is not the answer.
Philip Zimbardo, founder of the Heroic Imagination Project writes “One of the problems with our culture is that we’ve replaced heroes with celebrities. We worship people who haven’t done anything. It’s time to get back to focusing on what matters, because we need real heroes more than ever.” Parents can help guide their children and introduce them to real life individuals who are selfless, compassionate, and have done good for others. When children are constantly bombarded by celebrities who have not done anything but are sensualized for minimal productivity, it does not help the cause of “I am special and I have done nothing.”
Making a few of these necessary changes can greatly impact your child in a positive way.
Not sure if this applies? Are you saying yes to the following statements?
How to check your child or yourself for entitlement:
You feel jealous when those around you get something you want before you do.
You have a hard time negotiating or compromising.
Your friends and family never leave you feeling satisfied.
You feel your colleagues are competitive with you.
You have been called hypocritical or called out for having double standards in the way you behave with other people.
You blame others when things go wrong in a relationship.
You tend to take more than give in relationships.
You feel constantly let down by those around you.