Have you ever known an entitled person?
This is the person who screams at the check-out clerk that her expired coupon is valid and couldn’t care less that there’s a line of shoppers behind her.
This is the guy whose eyes glaze over when you tell him about a problem you’re having, but expects you to give him positive feedback about the fantastic day he’s had.
This is your best friend who constantly interrupts you when you’re talking.
It’s the boss who’s always late to meetings but berates you in front of your co-workers for being five minutes late once.
This is the uncle who wears designer clothes and drives an expensive foreign car but is always borrowing money from friends and family.
This is the 18-year old who throws a fit and threatens disowning his parents when they tell him he’ll have to attend a state school because they can’t afford to pay for an Ivy League education.
Entitlement. It can mean being unable to tolerate adversity and challenge. It can also mean having unreasonable expectations of others.
It’s not an attractive quality. It certainly isn’t something you’d want your kids to grow up to be.
But if you often find yourself frustrated or at a loss about how to appease your child or get them to stop crying, you may accidentally be contributing to the conditions that will make your child act entitled.
Here’s how that happens…
We’ve all been there as parents.
We’re at the grocery store or out in public and our child wants something now.
They want that toy or that cookie, or they don’t want to leave when it’s time to go.
At first, we politely refuse. “No, I’m afraid I’m not going to get that for you today.”
When the child persists (“But mom…”), we may start to get a little bit flustered and raise our voice. “I said no!”
When that doesn’t help and the child starts whining, sniveling, or crying, all we want in that moment is for them to stop. We just want the whining to stop. Anything to Make. It. Stop.
So, we buy that toy, let them have the cookie or stay at the playground ten more minutes, even though we’ve already stayed an extra half an hour. We breathe a sigh of relief that we dodged an all-out tantrum, which usually involves our child throwing themselves on the ground, or hitting us with their fists and screaming their demands at us.
We know it’s not the best decision, but we give them what they want anyway. Why do we do this?
We don’t want our child to make a scene and be judged for it. We are tired and don’t want to argue. The sound of whining and sniveling grates on us like nothing else.
Or, we give in because we want our child to like us. We may not like the panicky feeling that rises up deep inside of us when our child looks at us with anger or disappointment. The pain of being rejected by your own child is especially sharp.
Because all these things may be at play, we let them have what they want. Not right away—they have to be ready to throw a tantrum first.
Deep down, we sense that this is probably not a good thing to do all the time. And we would be right, because when we never allow our child to feel anger, frustration, and disappointment, we are literally training them to be entitled.
There is another, better way to handle this.
When a baby is born, our every instinct tells us to let our child be happy.
I want to give you permission to let your child struggle and be unhappy.
You may not like hearing your child whine, cry or scream, but sometimes, it’s what he has to do in order to build resilience and grow up to be a healthy, happy adult.
When we think our children need to be cheerful all the time, we’re actually doing a disservice to them. It’s good for them to see you be cranky sometimes, and it’s good for them to sit with their crankiness sometimes, too. The way we act with them sets their expectations for other relationships as well.
When they are forced to feel their disappointment with our calm and loving support, they are learning that the world won’t always give them what they want, and that’s okay. They are learning that yelling louder or making a scene won’t always result in getting their way, and that their actions have consequences. They are learning that they can live through frustration disappointment.
As adults, they won’t freak out when they encounter emotional people and they won’t rush to blame others for what’s gone wrong in their life.
Perhaps intellectually you agree with all of this, but you’re sitting there, thinking, “Letting them feel upset? Easier said than done.”
I get it. It’s hard to put up with meltdowns, especially when you have to juggle so many things in your household as it is. It’s hard to see your child red with anger.
That’s why, in my Parenting Without Bargains, Battles or Bribes program, I show you how to soothe your child and get them to cooperate because they WANT to please you, not because you’ve outlasted their tantrum.
We’ve established the dangers of always giving in to your child’s demands and never allowing them to feel disappointment.
The other common approaches to parenting—using reason and logic or being a tyrant—aren’t the best solutions, either.
What I’ve found through working directly with thousands of parents is that in order to inspire your child to want to cooperate, you have to start by improving your relationship with your child FIRST.
That means that you have to become what I call the Captain of the Ship.
The Captain is capable and compassionate, but doesn’t debate with the passengers about the best course for the ship. The Captain doesn’t NEED the child to behave a certain way and doesn’t need the child to be in a good mood all the time. The Captain knows what’s best for everyone on board and can calmly and with ease weather the “storms” of childhood, because the Captain knows that occasional storms are normal and necessary.
In Parenting Without Bargains, Battles or Bribes, I’ll show you exactly what to do and what to say to take on the Captain role and avoid most tantrums through proven techniques.
This approach to parenting allows your child to feel understood and heard, so they are less likely to escalate out of control.
It’s a parenting approach that also allows you to feel better about yourself as a parent, because you’re not having to yell, cajole or bribe your child into behaving.
You’ll be raising a child who is confident, compassionate, and a decent human being.
He’ll be able to tolerate the ups and downs of life, which means he’ll become a more resilient adult. He won’t always look to blame others when things go wrong and he’ll be able to empathize with his own spouse, partner, and children.
And you’ll get to enjoy a close, loving relationship with him for many decades to come.
P.S. Are you the captain of the ship, a lawyer, or a dictator with your kids? Find out by learning how each style approaches parenting and how that affects the outcome here.