Four Ways to Ensure Your Kids Don’t Grow Up Entitled

January 8, 2020
By Bart Zandbergen CFP

Today’s society sends a lot of powerful messages to both kids and parents. One of the most prevalent is, “The more you give your child, the better parent you are.” A lot of times, however, this leads to overindulging children. 

In turn, that overindulging leads children to a false sense of entitlement, “I am, therefore, give to me.”

To be clear, I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing to give to your kids. Seeing your child’s face light up when they get something, they have been yearning for is a fantastic feeling for a parent. But I do believe that the way you give to them can either help them develop a sense of fiscal responsibility or nurture a sense of false entitlement because they’re usually getting what they want when they want it.

Entitled kids grow up to think the world revolves around them and expect the path of life to be cleared for them without effort and hard work. Most of the parents I know don’t want to raise children to turn out like that. We want our kids to be hard-working, empathetic human beings that are positive contributors to society.

So, here are my top five tips to help ensure that your kids don’t grow up to be entitled.

Gratitude/Thank you

Gratitude can be a very powerful tool for kids, with both mental and physical health benefits. Research supports the link between gratitude and greater social support and protection from stress and depression over time. 

However, it can be a tricky concept for kids to grasp, especially for young children. Start with teaching your kids to say, “thank you.” That will plant the roots of learning gratitude, plus help give your kids a positive outlook and attitude. After all, the words we speak have a profound effect on our attitude. 

Volunteer together

Another way to cultivate thankfulness is to show your kids how to serve others. Including your children in service initiatives promotes a heightened awareness of social, emotional, and financial resources. It also helps foster a sense of community engagement.

If you do a little research, you can find volunteer opportunities for all ages; doing service projects together will open your children’s eyes to the less fortunate and foster an appreciation for the abundance in their own lives.

Even small acts of kindness lead to more positive feelings and a greater connection with others, which helps us feel more grateful.

Teach money skills at home

I’m a big believer in the fact that kids need to understand the value of money and what it takes to earn it. They need to know how to spend wisely, budget, save, and give charitably. You can’t launch your kids into the world and expect them to be successful with managing a paycheck, rent/mortgage, and more significant expenses if they don’t learn financial skills at home. Most schools do not teach financial responsibility; this responsibility lands solely on the parents’ shoulders! 

Set limits on giving money

I think it’s important to put limits on what you give your children. It’s so easy to get caught in the trap of giving them everything they ask for. No parent wants to disappoint their child, and parents who didn’t grow up with much financially can be particularly prone to wanting their kids to have the things they didn’t grow up with.

But, setting limits and saying “no” to your kids does not make you an uncaring or lousy parent. It’s a huge step in stopping entitlement in its tracks! It will help your child learn maturity about money and that their parents are not ATMs.

Allowance is a perfectly acceptable way to teach your child the value of hard work and earning things. They’ll learn quickly that you are not entitled to something you didn’t earn. It also helps foster the integral connection between work and achieving success. 

Let them lose

There’s so much to unpack with the topic of teaching kids to lose, but I’ll keep it short. As the world puts more pressure on our kids to excel and be winners, we, as parents, need to teach our kids that’s it’s okay to lose and how to lose gracefully. 

Not learning to tolerate failure leaves our kids vulnerable to anxiety. Dr. Amanda Mintzer, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute, says, “the ability to tolerate imperfection—that something is not going exactly your way—is oftentimes more important to learn than whatever the content subject is. Building that skill set is necessary for kids to be able to become more independent and succeed in future endeavors, whether it’s personal goals, academic goals, or just learning how to effectively deal with other people.”

Learning to fail can be painful, as we all well know. But kids will only succeed if they can acquire the skill to handle whatever life throws their way; make sure your kids know that every loss is an opportunity to learn.

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The Zandbergen Group is a DBA of Axxcess Wealth Management, LLC a Registered Investment Advisor with the SEC. Bart A. Zandbergen, CA Insurance License #OA96242. Letitia S. Berbaum, CA Insurance License #OH19537. Zandbergen Group, LLC is a DBA of Axxcess Wealth Management, LLC (“Axxcess”), a registered investment advisor. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Axxcess and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure.