The other day I watched a mother try to explain to her son (about 10 -12 years old) why he would not be able to have something he wanted badly. The more the mother tried to make the boy see her point the more agitated he became. This reminded me about an excerpt from one of T.D.Jakes’s book which said ” we gave them everything except the struggle no wonder kids are entitled. We have given them opportunities, privelleges and possessions we didnot have without explaining to them how what they are enjoying came about”.
The question then is how do we ensure that we communicate our struggle to our children so that they are able to recognize that what they own and enjoy is as a result of a sacrifice that we made. Below I share some ways I think we can do this.
Have daily devotions with them
Children need to hear you expressing thanks for what you have been blessed with. In addition, they should also hear you pray for other people’s needs. This helps them to learn that it is indeed a privellege to have what they have. You may have heard the saysing “a family that prays together stays togther”. It goes beyond staying together. When you pray with children, they tend to develop a sense of gratitude. This leads me to the next point.
Encourage them to maintain a gratitude journal
When you practice gratitude, you are in a sense acknowledging that you could have ended up on the wayside. This automatically throws entitlement out of the window. However, making children write 5 things they are grateful for each day may seem like a chore and become monotonous. Instead you could maybe make it a monthly activity where you begin by sharing how the month went for everyone and then agree to each write down five things you are grateful for. As this becomes a habit, children are able to see that indeed they are blessed to have the benefits before them.
Involve them in some decisions
I occassionally watch the Dave Ramsey show which airs in the USA. Families often come on the show to do debt free screams. Many times they come with their children and when asked whether the kids have been part of the journey to debt freedom, they respond in the affirmative. When you let children know what you are doing in order to change a family legacy and live debt free, something shifts in them. Suddenly they know they are able to live without so many of the things they feel entitled to. In addition, when children see what you have to go through to ensure they get what they want, they may reconsider asking for somethings.
Have family values and practice them
An entitled kid will demand something because all their friends have it. However, when you have family values you are able to communicate to the child that you as a family are different. When other children are asking for a particular item, your child will be able to put things in perspective and find out if it fits within the family values.
The key to ensuring that family values stick is to practice what you preach. Your children should see you living out those values in order for them to want to abide by them.
Allow your kids to sit with want
If everytime your children ask for something you are quick to provide it, you may be teaching them to feel entitled. On the other hand, when you ask them to wait you may find that eventually what they thought they needed badly they can actually live without. When you tell kids to wait, you are in effect teaching them how to sit with want. This will be very useful for them in future as they learn to distingusih between a need and a want.
Teach your kids how to give
This final point may appear obvious but when implemented has great benefits in ensuring kids do donot grow up to feel entitled all the time.
I will never forget a lesson my friend Irene taught me. At the time our kids were toddlers but I wanted to learn how she ensured that her kids didnot grow up to become entitled. She explained how from a young age, she had taught them to be givers. She often took them to an orphanage where the kids would have an opportunity to share some of their toys and clothes. I took up this lesson and in our home, we maintain a giving bag. Everytime the kids outgrow something they know they have to put it in the giving bag. When we get the opportunity we share what is in the bag. So far, this has worked well and my kids do not hold on to toys they no longer need or clothes that do not fit they are willing to let go.
Giving helps children not to feel entitled since they are able to realise that there are other children who do not have what they have. In addition, scripture tells us, “it is more blessed to give than to receive”. Children who are taught how to give grow up to be generous adults.
So there you have it my friends some ways in which we can ensure that we do not raise entitled children. What are some of the ways you are ensuring that you communicate your struggle to your children so they do not feel entitled? Please share in the comments section.