Often parents begin noticing unanticipated changes in their children, especially after holidays and special occasions. Consider how endowed children were during these exceptional times, not only in terms of presents but also yummy treats, late bedtimes, entertainment, no homework, less chores, and vacations.

Other parents may overcompensate when their children have challenges such as illness, handicaps, disabilities, and psychological disorders or problems related to divorce, remarriage, adoption, and bullying. The list goes on…and indeed they begin to feel like royalty!

It is no wonder that children love being treated with kid leather gloves, but sometimes this behavior develops feelings of entitlement for special treatment. Even our most altruistic intentions can backfire.

How do we transition our children back to the realities of daily living, responsibilities at home and school, and general respect for the adults who showed them so much love?

Rather than blow your trumpets, it is time to recognize a hard part of parenting – learning to say “no” without using negative words like “no, shouldn’t, can’t, won’t, etc.” How do you encourage your children without getting angry? How do you allow them to experience the consequences of their choices? Try engaging your children by asking questions rather than telling them what to do:

  • When your children say “…but I want….” rather than argue and say “no,” simply agree: “Sure you would like…” and “How do we respond to demands in our home?”
  • When your children want to stay up late on a school night, you can simply agree: “I’ll bet you would like to stay up late. What bedtime do you think would be best so you can have energy for school in the morning?”
  • When your children refuse to do their homework, you could empathize: “I’ll bet it is hard to do school work. How do you think it will work out for you at school if you don’t turn in your work?”
  • When your children complain: “We’re bored. There’s nothing to do,” simply agree: “It can be hard to find something to do.” Then ask your children if they have looked through their toys and games to spark an interest or if they might like to select some items to donate to children who would enjoy them.

Another important element of parenting that can minimize entitlement is to instill a work ethic. This can be accomplished by assigning your children’s chores that are paid with your gratitude rather than money. Chores inspire a sense of belonging and accomplishment, and children learn the value of their contribution to the home and family, a cause greater than themselves. They also get a perspective of your efforts at home, which can foster greater respect for you.

If your children behave as entitled royalty, they will benefit from your loving guidance. As a parent, you can turn over the baton to your children so they can think harder about their behavior, and in the process learn some very important life lessons.

Dr. Barbara Pedalino is a licensed clinical psychologist in Palm Desert whose interest in self-esteem spans all ages. For more information visit www.drbarbpsychologist.com or contact her at (760) 702.0878.

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