A few months ago, one of my children had the chance to attend a professional baseball game with my husband, and that particular child was really excited about getting cotton candy. My husband wanted to make the day extra special, so he bought a nice pink fluff of sugar from the vendor, and our child was all smiles–until the blue cotton candy cart came by.
“DAD! I wanted blue!”
I don’t blame my child for wanting blue cotton candy. I don’t blame children at all for wanting the fun, beautiful, exciting things they see other people enjoying. However, too many parents today (including me, sometimes) aren’t taking the time to sit down and teach their children that they simply can’t have everything they want. Children need to learn to work. They need to feel a sense of ownership for their lives and motivation to do their best.
I've been working with Richard and Linda Eyre these past few months in preparation for the launch of their new book, The Entitlement Trap, and I must say that the principles they teach in their book WORK.
Because I've been studying ways to help my children not feel entitled, I'm more quick to notice "the creep" of the entitlement mentality. Here are some of the changes we've made:
- My children did "Summer Goals" and had to work hard each day--learning to type, cleaning, reading, writing, helping their brother, practicing their musical instrument, developing new skills, etc. It's amazing to see how they don't gravitate to a screen as much now that they're excited about other hobbies and activities.
- We gave each child a small school shopping budget, but everything else they wanted had to come out of their own pockets. There was absolutely ZERO whining while we were clothes/school shopping (and each child was so grateful for the things they got to buy--even though they didn't get everything they would have typically wanted).
- My three-year-old does jobs around the house now in order to earn little check marks on our dry erase board. Ten checks equals a pack of gum, and he is excited to work. The other day, I was taking out the trash, and he said, "Mom, could I help you do that?" A THREE-YEAR-OLD. I was all smiles.