It’s all about me cries the entitled child. Karen Deerwester, in her book, shares practical tips about raising The Entitlement-Free Child.
The environmental pressures to give our kids what they want, when they want it are real. The University of Minnesota’s Birthdays Without Pressure Project has taken on the issue of oversized birthday party’s as a visible sign of our culture of too much, me first, trash and waste, entitlement, envy and more is better.
The opposite of an entitled-child is a child who is confident and responsible. Sometimes it will mean that as parents we say no and that we accept our child’s anger for the limits we have set. It may even mean that we say no when all our children’s friends’ parents are saying yes.
There are a number of areas we can focus in in our efforts to raise entitlement-free children with love and guidance.
We can focus our children’s attention on the effort it takes for things to happen and assist them with persevering with their efforts. Help your child learn about how long does it take to learn a new skill, make a meal, or earn the money that comes out of the ATM. Time and patience are key ingredients to successful efforts.
We can teach children manage time when we show them how to mark time by watching a timer, counting stop signs, the number of blocks or songs instead of zoning out watching a DVD to be distracted until “now” arrives. Teaching children the pattern and sequence of time helps them learn to manage their impatience.
Entitlement free living can be taught through play. Board games teach children to take turns, to wait to get to the prized place and that someone will always finish second. Mastering a physical challenge like getting to the top of a rock climbing wall teaches the importance of trying over and again. Playing soccer on the playground help children learn social skills.
Find opportunities for humor. Humor has been shown to have many health benefits including relaxation, protection against depression, increased creativity and communication. Remember that humor doesn’t work if it is done at the expense of someone else. Using jokes, poking fun at yourself or reversing roles with your child can be hilarious.
Provide age appropriate expectations that are not asking too little or too great a leap of growth.
Security helps kids to have the courage to try new things. Helping children to know what is expected of them in terms of schedule and healthy behaviours (eating, sleeping, hygiene, etc.) help children to learn how to gain control over their own environment and feel safe.
Good rules contribute to a safe environment. Keep rules simple. If you can’t remember them, the kids can’t either. Remember every family may have different rules.
Saying No to you child at times will be part of raising an entitlement-free child. Decide when it is in your child’s best interest (they need rest, to fulfil their responsibilities, etc.) to say No to an activity or request. When you choose to say No do it with certainty and be ready to demonstrate perseverance through their testing.
Entitlement-free children learn a sense of connection with others and mutual responsibility. Our children are capable, they just need help to learn just what they are capable from us, their parents. Happy entitlement-free parenting!