Does your child share their opinion too freely, question too aggressively or become too indignant about their personal rights? Do you worry that they might be on their way to becoming entitled?
"If someone has a sense of entitlement, that means the person believes he deserves certain privileges– and he or she is arrogant about it."
3 things to remember:
Having a strong understanding of their rights needs to run parallel with a growing sense of an awareness of others. This is a difficult tension to hold for the very young, so try not to have unrealistic expectations. Get to know what developmentally speaking is reasonable for your child/ren.
Entitlement can be a good thing. It can mean your child has a growing understanding of what they can rightly expect of others and of institutions such as school, university etc. It is all about balance!
Humility is a big key to avoiding the negative side of entitlement. Not having a low view of their own importance; instead, a sense of both their importance and of others as well.
I deserve this
Entitlement says: “I deserve this because the world owes me a happy life.”
Balance says: “I have worked hard, so if it works out, I do deserve this.”
Message for parents: It is not your job to ensure your child is happy. Fulfilment and satisfaction are more realistic than happiness, which is here one minute, gone the next.
Things need to be fair
Entitlement says: “I know the treatment I deserve, so it’s not fair if I miss out or if I am treated differently.”
Balance says: “It’s hard when I feel unfairly treated or miss out, but I have to accept that things don’t always go the way I want."
Message for parents: Developmentally children don’t always appreciate the context of things. This is where you come in – to fill in the blanks and help them see the bigger picture.
My opinion is important
Entitlement says: “Everyone should listen to my opinion and value it.”
Balance says: “Everyone’s opinion is important. Not everyone will agree with my opinion, and that’s okay.”
Message for parents: Teach children that they don’t always have to be right, and others' opinions have value even if they are different.
I can express myself
Entitlement says: “I can express myself any way I want, and if I'm stroppy, that’s just too bad for others."
Balance says: “It is good to express myself, but I can do it in a way that still respects others.”
Message for parents: Help your children to think about how their behaviour affects others.
I can fight for my rights
entitlement says: “I need to win every single time, no exceptions!”
Balance says: “I want to stick up for myself in this situation, but I also need to think things through.”
Message for parents: Yes, your child absolutely can fight for their rights. But they need to know which battles to pick and which ones to let go of. Your child needs your adult perspective on this.
Rose Stanley is an author of three books to aid children with emotional literacy.