When your teens act as if they deserve more possessions, more respect or more praise without earning it, you're experiencing what psychologists call an "entitlement mentality." According to research from San Diego State University, young people in the 21st century are much more likely than their elders to place value on status and higher salaries, and to value leisure time over time working. It might be a generational thing, but as a parent you know your teen's sense of entitlement is not helping you or your family -- so try some tactics to lessen its effects.
1 Assign him regular chores, and make it clear that he won't get to use things like electronics or mobile phones until he's done doing them. This contributes to what psychologist Carl Pickhardt, Ph.D, calls "mutuality," in an article in "Psychology Today." It's the idea that one person sacrifices for another, and in turn expects the other person to sacrifice for them. On top of that, chores teach a sense of responsibility and accomplishment.
2 Don't give her every material possession she wants, suggests psychologists Maurice Elias, Steven Tobias and Brian Friedlander in their book "Raising Emotionally Intelligent Teenagers: Parenting with Love, Laughter, and Limits." The authors note this is especially important for families with means to afford nearly anything their teen could want, teaching them about self-control and limits.
3 Encourage your teen -- and your whole family -- to give back to the community. Sign up for a weekly volunteer session at your local church, community center or charity, or better yet, volunteer for service in a developing country, where your teen will be exposed to people who are struggling to survive. That's something that can put her need to have the newest, greatest material possessions in perspective.
4 Praise your teen when he deserves it, but don't go overboard with the "good jobs." Kids can get a sense of entitlement when they're praised too often, reminds the Empowering Parents website.
5 Require your teen to send thank-you notes when she receives a gift from someone else. Practicing gratitude is important for curbing that inflated sense of entitlement, reminds parenting coach Terry Carson.
- If you currently give an allowance without tying it to contributing around the house, it may be time to rethink your process. Giving your children money without earning it can definitely lead to a sense of entitlement. Sit your kids down and tell them that from now on, they'll get an allowance when they complete chores, babysit their siblings or do other errands you need done. They may not like it, but rest easy knowing you're helping them in the long run.
- San Diego State University: Young Workers Value Jobs Less, Leisure More
- Rutgers: Achieving the Impossible: Living with Teenagers
- Empowering Parents: “I Want It Now!” How to Challenge a False Sense of Entitlement in Kids
- Psychology Today: Surviving (Your Child's) Adolescence
- The Parenting Coach: Kids Have an Inflated Sense of Entitlement
- Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images