We are fast approaching Thanksgiving, a time when we focus on thankfulness and gratitude. An entitled attitude in our kids seems to be more apparent this time of year. But we and extinguish this entitled attitude by making a 5 easy changes in our families.

Do you recall the infamous McDonald’s ad, “You deserve break today” and how it really spoke to people?

Mickey D’s  tapped into that entitlement philosophy of, “I deserve ______(fill in the blank).” Clever.

Most commercials feed into the deserving Big Mac philosophy.  Ads in all types of media come at potential consumers with the coveted belief of, “You deserve, I deserve, a break today.”

Kids begin to confuse wants with needs. “I need a cell phone.”

The idea of a right gets muddied with the concept of a privilege. “I’m ten. I should have a cell phone. I NEEEED a cell phone.”

Demands and even defiance accompany an entitled attitude. 

Here’s a hard truth, we need to take some responsibility for raising an entitled child.  We are training our kids to have unrealistic expectations and we encourage them to think they are so great at….everything.

We say things like:

“You deserve better.”

“He’s not good enough for you.”

“You are the smartest, cutest, strongest… person I know.”

Let’s get real. No one can be the best at everything. And in regard to value, no one person is  better or worse than another. We are all created in God’s image and equal at the foot of the cross. Each person is uniquely gifted in God’s kingdom. Each person has something to learn from another and something to teach someone else.

The entitled, I deserve, attitude I’m referring to is the sense of “global  equity.” Equity in terms of results and outcomes without considering the true fairness of effort, sacrifice, and personal success.

“Because I breathe like he does, I deserve a posh job.”

Have you noticed, entitled kids often have parents who drive the idea? Entitlement plays out in the classroom as well.

“You gave my child a D. He’s trying to get into ABC college. He needs at least a B.”

A teacher I know has developed a great line to use  this situation:

“I don’t give out grades. My students earn their grades.”
She puts the responsibility back on the child, where it belongs.

When I taught third grade I recall one conference where the parent demanded her daughter be placed in the highest level math group (even though the student’s ability in math was average). The mom reasoned that her child needed to be moved up a level so she would qualify for the “better” programs offered at the middle school and high school level.


Okay…so we  know what we don’t want. We don’t want spoiled, self-centered, ungrateful, sloth-like children. We don’t want kids infected with Affluenza!

How can we prevent undeserved privilege?

We can inoculate against it.

We begin by asking, “What do we want?”

Most of us want our children to have a good work ethic and a good attitude (even when things don’t go well). We want them to be unselfish, self-starters, grateful, and responsible.

Parents let’s do some retraining. We can get back to the old school idea of merited compensation, the idea of  putting forth effort, striving to do well, having a thankful heart.

How do we fight the entitlement mentality? By doing these 5 things.

5 Ways to Extinguish an Entitled Attitude in Our Kids
  • We speak to our children with love and truth.  (We don’t compliment when it is unwarranted.)
  • We show gratitude in our family. (Appreciate family members and the acts of kindness demonstrated.)
  • We give them jobs to do around the house. (Let the kids know they are a  vital part of the family.)
  • We help them recognize their unique strengths and weaknesses. (Give your kids an honest perspective of themselves.)
  • We empower our kids with ownership. (Provide opportunities for the children to be responsible. Avoid taking over, redoing, fixing, rescuing. Train instead.)

When our kids have some skin in the game, they gain a sense of control and personal responsibility for an outcome. They are motivated to take a positive action rather than passively wait for things to happen.

When this occurs the victim or blame mentality is extinguished.

When our kids struggle, let’s change our language. Rather than say, ‘You deserve…” say “How will you accomplish your goal?” or “What goals have you set to reach your desired outcome?”

When you hear: “I want”, “I need”, “I deserve”– help your child to re-frame the thought to, “I will do this.” or “I will not do that.” “I’m responsible for..”

A child who seeks to blame others for his failures or looks to others to provide “health, wealth, and happiness” is likely to be a very unhappy and unproductive person.

If we want our kids to be happy, we won’t give them everything. Let’s allow them the joy of being rewarded for hard work.

Empower your kiddos by giving them what they need. And what they need is to believe they are capable and lovable.
Happy Thanksgiving! 

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you:
Do not think of yourself more 
highly than you ought,
but rather think of yourself with sober judgment,
in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
Romans 12:3

© LoriWildenberg. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Lori Wildenberg is a licensed parent and family educator, parent coach, and co-founder of 1Corinthians13 Parenting.com. She has written 6 books including Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home; The Messy Life of Parenting: Powerful and Practical Ways to Strengthen Family Connections; and her most recent book, Messy Hope: Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety, Depression, or Suicidal Ideation. Contact Lori for your next event or for parent consulting or parent training courses. Lori can also be found mentoring over at the MOMS Together Group on Facebook.

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