Modern Parent's Guide: How to raise kids that aren't entitled
The authors of a new book are giving parents some tips to curb their children's sense of entitlement.
One of the co-authors, Lisa Ferrari, said on CTV's Canada AM, "They get angry and they get whiny and persistent when their needs aren't met."
Every parent knows the struggle. They want to give their children everything they ask for, but worry they’ll become spoiled.
But making sure your children aren’t spoiled doesn’t mean punishing them at every turn, registered psychologists Carla Fry and Lisa Ferrari suggest in their new book.
"(Parents) are well intentioned to raise their kids in a way that they felt they themselves weren't raised," Ferrari said. "(but) sometimes parents can overcompensate."
A toddler cries as she tries to climb out of her crib. (Oleg Kozlov / shutterstock.com)
Don't use the term 'spoiled'
In "Gratitude and Kindness: A Modern Parents Guide to Raising Children in an Era of Entitlement," Fry and Ferrari ask parents to move away from the term "spoiled," and instead use "entitled." Where "spoiled" suggests there is something wrong with the child, entitlement can be curbed, Ferrari said.
Fry and Ferrari's book says parents need to recognize that this kind of behaviour isn't children crying out for indulgence, but crying out for help.
Children aren't able to control feelings of sadness, inadequacy and fear, the psychologists explained. Children ask for privileges to distract themselves from uncomfortable emotions, they said.
Actions, not just words
Fry and Ferrari recommend using "positive psychology" to stop entitlement. The practice teaches kids to be grateful and kind to others through actions, not just words.
"Thank you is … just a phrase, and kids can say that without meaning," Fry said.
If parents want their kids to be respectful and grateful to others, then parents have to show respect inside and outside the household, she said.
A mother kisses her child on the cheek. (A.KaZaK / shutterstock.com)
'You need to be grateful'
Fry and Ferrari said parents need to cater to their children's emotional needs rather than their fleeting fancies.
Parents can do this by being mindful of their actions. This means showing appreciation to their spouse, children and anyone they come into contact with outside the home, Ferrari said.
It also means consistently showing gratitude to children as they grow older; even over little things, Fry said.
"Take the time to notice absolutely everything," Fry said, using the example "I noticed you hung up your wet towel without me asking. Thanks for doing that."
When children feel appreciated within the home, then modeling those values becomes second nature, Fry said.
"It’s not, 'you need to be different, you need to be grateful,'" she said. "We have to show the gratitude ourselves and give them words for it and actions in how to really be grateful."