Imagine the scene:
A splendid throne atop an elevated platform.
Two servants rushing back and forth, catering to the every wish of the crowned head seated upon the lofty chair.
Exhausted from a day’s worth of conforming to the demands of the ruler, they finally bow with heads low.
Nothing wrong with that scenario, right?
After all, servants of kings and queens are supposed to be busy attending to their masters’ wishes. Except… upon closer examination, in this scene, YOU are the servants, and your child is the one seated on the throne.
Not really. According to a recent survey, most parents—some 94 percent—realize their children are spoiled, even ungrateful and disrespectful.
Are you one of them? Be honest.
Of course, it’s not that you intended to spoil them. It just happened.
Maybe you simply love to see them smile, so you gave them things that made them happy, without ever realizing that you were teaching them to expect this kind of treatment. Or maybe you failed to help them learn to be truly respectful of the things they have, of the things that belong to others, and of other people.
And now they are, in essence, the little ruler of your family.
No matter how it happened, though, the hardest part is to admit that your child is spoiled and that you played a part in spoiling them.
But it’s not too late to make changes.
So, what practical tips can you take to avoid that scenario at the outset?
Correct Your Child When Necessary
This is not to say that you should criticize your child for every little mistake they make. But serious offenses and bad attitudes need to be corrected before they become too deeply rooted.
Tip #1: Set clear expectations
In order for your child to live up to your expectations, they need to know what you expect. Simply tell them ahead of time. The younger the child, the more clear-cut the expectations need to be and the briefer the list.
Tip #2: Consistently enforce rules
Once you’ve set expectations, be consistent with following through—that is the key! If they don’t abide by the rules, let them experience the consequences. However, if they respect and live up to the expectations you’ve set, make sure you commend them for their effort and compliance.
Prepare Your Child for the Realities of Life
When you cater to your child’s every wish, you can inevitably make them feel entitled. That will only do them a disservice. In real life, few will pamper them this way.
Tip #3: Remember, less is more
Your child does not need to have everything new thing that is on the market. In fact, try cutting back on what they already have. It keeps them from being overwhelmed and also helps them to appreciate new things when they go outside your home.
Tip #4: Quit buying unneeded things
Most often, parents buy unnecessary things for their children because they look like fun, they’re on sale, they’re educational, or your child really wants them. While it’s nice that you want to give them things—perhaps things you yourself never had—stop and think about if they truly need them. Remember, you can say “no.”
Tip #5: Teach the value of money
Help your child to be aware of how much things cost. If they want a certain item, teach them to buy it for themselves. Encourage them to save up for it. It may take them a while, but they’ll learn to value hard work and patience, and they get to enjoy a feeling of accomplishment when they do it on their own.
But also be clear that sometimes you simply can’t afford something. Explain why you may have to live within a budget and help them to deal with the disappointment that they may feel about not getting something they wanted.
Tip #6: Instill respect
Consider how much value your child puts on the items they have. Do they show it by the way they treat them, take care of them? Or do they just throw them about and mishandle them, thinking that you’ll replace anything that gets broken right ahead? If you make clear by your words and actions that you expect their things to last, you foster respect.
Encourage Your Child to Give
Giving brings enormous happiness if it’s done with the right attitude. The best way to teach your child giving is to be the example. When they can see the joy and satisfaction you get from helping out and giving to others, you encourage them to imitate you.
Tip #7: Model donating things
In line with tip #3, “less is more,” it’s a good idea to promote your child giving up one thing for every new thing that they get. The most important part of this is to help them to see that it should be something they feel someone else will really like. This will encourage unselfishness and really thinking of other people’s needs.
Tip #8: Spend time with them
When you spend more time with your child, you’ll often find that they don’t need any new toys or gadgets. You’re giving of what’s most valuable to them, your attention and loving care. And that can also inspire them, in turn, to freely give time to others.
Parents, if you feel your child is acting entitled, ungrateful, or disrespectful of things or other people, take positive actions. It’s not too late! Encouraging them to be well-adjusted all starts with you being a great example and taking sensible and consistent steps to mold them.
So, use the tips mentioned above to help correct them, prepare them for real life, and find joy in giving. Help them practice and refine those skills. And support their development of real self-worth through genuine accomplishments, not by catering to their every whim.