“I will not!”
“Please, my cutie pie, angel of my heart. Mommy really needs you to do this for her.”
As a mommy, this can be the most difficult time of your life. Dealing with entitled kids. What do you do when your child refuses to listen? If spanking isn’t an option, and a time-out doesn’t work, do you resort to Guantanamo Bay tactics? No food and straight to bed? Television restrictions, or a limit on play time? Is this what you pictured when that beautiful baby first landed in your arms, helpless and innocent?
We’ve all been the frowning stranger in the supermarket when somebody’s child has a tantrum in the isle, and the mother ineffectually tries to calm him or her down with gentle words, when it is quite obvious the child is undisciplined.
But therein lies the problem: We are quick to identify the mistakes in others, but slow to identify them in ourselves. The little old lady with the spoiled rotten tea-cup Yorkie that tries to bite every hand that comes near its snarling face – including the owner – is a perfect example.
“Oooh, you little rotter,” she coos, immensely proud of her little bundle of fluff, and totally unaware of how her coddling and negative reinforcement has created the monster that everyone save herself sees. The same principle lies behind entitled children
Unfortunately, having an entitled child on your hands is likely of your own doing. Children learn from their parents, and if the child has developed undesirable character traits, then it may be time for you to swallow that bitter pill and do something about it.
1. Establish your authority
Establishing authority takes hard work and commitment, but the rewards are absolutely worth it. I feel for mommies who are ruled by their temper-prone toddlers simply because they haven’t established a hierarchy of authority in their home. Half the battle entails making sure your child knows who The Boss is. Get that into place and the rest becomes much easier.
2. Don’t give in
When you’ve had a long, exhausting day, it’s easy to let good manners fly out of the window in favour of some peace and quiet. In the end, we reinforce our child’s behaviour by what we choose or choose not to accept. So, when your little one continues to ask for sweets just before dinner and you have already said “no”, stand firm by what you decide. Regardless of a temper tantrum that may ensue, don’t budge.
3. Follow through
They’ll soon learn that you mean what you say, every time. Consistency is King. In the end, we want to teach our kids that there are rewards for good behaviour and consequences for bad behaviour. Not following through what you say will either confuse them, or affirm that they can test you and push your limits. Discuss positive and negative reinforcement systems with your partner to establish how to best teach these behaviours to your child. The results will be worth it.
4. Teaching values
There is absolutely nothing wrong with spoiling your children and making them feel special. Doing so at their demand is when the trouble starts. Work to cultivate a sense of appreciation and not a sense of entitlement in your child. They will slowly begin to understand that the world doesn’t revolve around them and that good things are a result of appreciation and hard work, not “I want”.
5. “Learn it to earn it”
Asking a child to be patient is like asking them to keep their clothes clean: difficult, but not impossible. Instant gratification is the phrase of the day. How do we teach our children to learn the value of patience and hard work (without seeming like a slave driver)? Implementing a “learn it to earn it” system can teach kiddies that a sense of entitlement will not get them what they want. For example, teach them patience by perhaps getting them to draw a picture of their dream plush doll. They need to wait patiently while the doll is being handmade. Only THEN can they get the plush toy.
So, here’s to a future of hard working, big-dreaming, non-entitled grown-ups – starting today!