In this day and age, many parents are concerned about their children developing an “entitlement mentality.” Maybe you’re a parent who’s already seen this mentality exhibited in your kids. Teaching your kids to “pay it forward” – that is, to give back to others and their community – is a remedy of sorts for the entitlement mentality.
Here are some ideas on paying it forward, and teaching your kids to overcome the entitlement mentality.
1. Learn to Say No
This doesn’t mean you have to start saying no to everything your kids request. If you need to ask for time to think about it first, by all means do so. But if you do say no to something, make sure you stick to it. Modern society has made instant gratification the norm. I certainly can see that in my own kids — they want it right now.Remember when you had to spend hours at the library to research for a paper and your parents had to drive you? Now all that information is just a mouse-click away. And sites like Amazon make purchasing something super-easy, often arriving in just one day. My boys often can’t believe they have to wait until the next day for something to arrive. And if it takes several days, well, good grief.
So to counteract this, saying no now and then is a good idea. It may seem strange to your child and he may react with a huge outburst, but just calmly ride it out and don’t engage in an argument.
I’ve worked really hard on choosing when to say no to my kids. And now, even if it may tough for them to not get what they want, they accept it. And when I do say yes, they are thankful for it rather than just expecting it.
2. Push Your Kids a Bit
Sometimes, kids needs to stretch. If you give in to their dislikes, they may refuse to do something legitimate because they are afraid or uncomfortable. Then you deny them the opportunity to sacrifice something for others.
For example, what if your child was asked to speak before a group, and was terrified at the prospect? Requiring him or her to do it despite the fear teaches several things: (1) that sometimes you need to sacrifice for others; (2) a sense of accomplishment; and (3) a deeper understanding of what it means to give time and effort (not just giving things).
From an early age, I would include my children in the culling of their toys. I would ask them to help me figure out what toys they had outgrown and which ones they didn’t really use anymore. Anytime they claimed they needed them all, I would remind them that there are families whose parents can’t afford to buy toys. By donating, we make toys accessible to those who don’t have the money.
3. Just Because Others “Have” Doesn’t Mean You “Deserve”
No one owes your child because he or she has less than another child. If the other kids at school have gaming systems, then your child is going to feel like he or she deserves one, too. It may go further – your child may feel like wealthier kids owe him something of their wealth just because they have more than he does.
To counteract this, teach your child to take responsibility for his wants. Tell him he will need to earn the money to buy that particular thing and help him find age-appropriate jobs that pay. (If you can afford it, you can pay him to do some jobs.) This helps your child come away with a sense of accomplishment (once again) and a recognition that if he wants something, he can take the initiative and go out and get it.
We strongly believe our kids should earn their own money. Rather than paying for chores (which I tell them is an expectation as a member of our family), we reward them when they display really exceptional behavior — from taking that extra step to help us out to being an exemplary brother. They save up their money and then buy the toys that they really want. Right now, they’re saving up for Skylanders.
Some books I recommend include: