Don’t Give Your Kids the Message of Entitlement

a Love and Logic article from Dr. Jim Fay 

​​Over the years, I’ve seen some friends and relatives who devoted their lives to protecting their children from inconvenience, discomfort, struggle, disappointment, embarrassment, and delayed gratification in any form. They sacrifice themselves, their own well-being, and even their financial security to provide for all the wants of their children. I’m sure you might have seen instances of parents who have almost driven themselves into financial ruin by continuing to protect their grown children from bad financial and personal decisions.  In my experience, this has never worked out in a positive way in the long term. In addition, I have never seen the offspring of these parents wake up and recognize that they, themselves, have become spoiled, self-centered, and need to change their ways. 

Here is an example of a parent who apparently knew how to help her kids avoid entitlement, but eventually gave the wrong message to one of her kids. When I met this family, they appeared to have great teenagers. “Yes, they are,” she offered. “I worked hard with them when they were little, and it really paid off. They were expected to behave and act responsibly by helping with the family jobs. Now they are a joy.” Unfortunately, the third child in the family was nothing like the older ones. With remorse, she told us that by the time her third child came along she was worn out. “I no longer had the energy, so my way was to just give him what he wants. I didn’t want the hassle.” She went on to say that this was the worst mistake of her life. “He’s not like the other kids. He’s lazy and selfish. All he wants to do is watch TV and play video games. He’s never happy unless he gets his way.” 

This parent had discovered how to create an entitled child who would probably never be happy. She had to decide whether to continue as she was or to start setting some limits so that he would grow up to be responsible. The good news is that it’s never too late to use the principles and techniques of Love and Logic. 

We have developed several techniques that can help parents raise kids who grow into responsible and successful adults. For example, here are our Four Steps to Responsibility:

  1. Give the child a task that you know that the child can handle.
  2. Hope that the child fails at the task (this is the learning opportunity for the child).
  3. Allow the consequences, delivered with empathy, to do the teaching.
  4. Give the child the same task until the child learns to respond with responsibility & succeed. 

Using these four steps lays the foundation for responsible behavior, which is essential for avoiding entitlement. For more details on helping your kids avoid entitlement and become responsible adults, listen to our classic audio, Four Steps to Responsibility. 

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