The Entitlement Mentality can start at 5

Most of our children these days have things served on a platter to them. Enrichment classes like sports, swimming, art, music, dance which were major bonuses to have when I was growing up, has become a must-have for most children. I would not even go into the area of things, as I know most kids I know (including my own child) have too many toys and clothes.

Entitlement mentality can start really young with children these days. It may not be as defined as, “My parent’s owe this to me as they brought me into the world, what I have is what I deserve and it is mine”. But there are many signs of child taking these privileges for granted when they see their peers enjoying similar privileges.

Screen Shot 2012 08 27 at 5 07 21 PM

I have found out recently from K, that at 5, he already knows how to take some things for granted. He tends to treat his enrichment classes as a given, since most of his classmates have enrichment classes in school and are attending various classes on weekends.

It started with his Tennis lessons that he attends with Spex. He was enjoying the social interaction he was having with his friends in the class and he stopped paying attention to his coach. All it took was a short chat an afternoon before his class. We told him that we will stop the class immediately if he did not make the effort to pay attention and listen. It costs money for his grandparents sponsor his class so he needs to make an effort to learn, not just focus on having fun with his friends. Hb and I made him understand that these enrichment classes were not something we wanted him to do, but a privilege for him to attend as he enjoyed playing tennis.

Some parents might tell me to take it easy since it is just sports enrichment. But I need to teach my child about good work ethics, to be responsible and independent, to try his best at whatever he has been privileged to have. This also applies to things that he doesn’t like to do; helping around the house, cleaning up after play, etc. All these things needs to be done without having to whine or complain and he needs to make sure he does a good job at it.

If I don’t address this now, he will gradually become a teenager/young adult with the entitlement mentality. And I think teaching my child these things really cannot wait.

I hear this quite often from people from my parent’s generation, “He is still young, slowly teach him. When he reach a certain age, he will understand.” When children were ‘forced’ to help their parents make a living during the 50s – 60s. They could learn from real life experience that hard work is needed to bring home every cent, every bowl that the parent fills with rice.

There seems to be less learning opportunities for our children, simply because our world have changed. Children are being institutionalized in school at a tender age and are very sheltered. And since there also fewer children in most families, children are treated like little princes and princesses and are freely given most things that they want.

Can we raise privileged children without the entitlement mentality? Do share your thoughts here.


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  1. Hi, why allow ur parents to pay for his enrichment…the entitlement mentality starts from there….should teach him to live within the means….

    Rachel Reply:

    It is actually not a matter of how much it costs or who pays for it. Would u refuse your in laws or parents who gives your child presents? I would not, n I teach my child to appreciate it n if it is a toy, to take good care of it n treasure it. The only difference here is enrichment lessons. A child needs to know that he gets it not just because everyone has it too, but he gets these privileges from parents and grandparents who love him and he needs to learn to appreciate it.

  2. I think as parents, we will ALWAYS try to provide the best for the child as long as we’re able to. Especially if this involves things which he has interest in, like art, or dance, or whatever it is that strikes a chord with them.

    As to whether they then take it as a given, in my opinion, it is then up to us to always remind them that they are able to ‘enjoy’ certain privileges not because they are entitled to it, but because they have shown interest in it. We should also let them know that there are far less fortunate children in the world who don’t even know if they will have food in their bellies for the next meal, and that they should never take their privileges for granted.

    Of course, that said – it is easier for us to ‘will it’ than to make the child understand, especially if they are surrounded by other kids who are accorded what they yearn, and more.

    Even now, C will not touch a computer or laptop in favour of the iPad or Tab, and his grandparents have mentioned time and time again that they would like to give him one. The hubs and I have put our foot down and told them no – not because we want to deny him the privilege or that we can’t afford it, but we would like to delay the exposure for as long as possible, hopefully till he is slightly older and can be made to slowly understand that an iPad is not simply a toy, among other reasons. We also don’t want him to rely too much on it for entertainment, although heaven knows that we would love the distraction at mealtimes, etc!

    We’re fortunate that C has grandparents who respect our methods of educating him, instead of simply going ahead to indulge him because they can.

    Even we, as adults, tend to take certain things as a given, but chances are, we are able to already distinguish between necessities and luxuries. I think. :)

    Rachel Reply:

    Parenting is so hard work isn’t it? We always have to be careful what we say, constantly remind ourselves to remind our kids. Great point u brought up about distinguishing between necessities and luxuries, I think that’s a good way to teach our kids to differentiate what is want and a need.

  3. I believe explaining to my kids on how we earn the money to pay for their classes and such. I also believe in providing children opportunities to earn for their rewards. Just like I explained to my boy, aged 5, that I only have the budget for 2 enrichment classes (which he loves) and no toys purchase unless if it is a special occasion like for Christmas or for birthdays. He still buy my story till today. :)

    Rachel Reply:

    I use the same reason whenever K asks for toys – that I don’t have money to spend on toys and these are bonuses reserved for special occasions. And highlight that money is better spent on things like food, his school and classes.

  4. As parents, we have the ability to shape our kid’s mentality on entitlement in the way that we treat the things around us. If our kids always see us shopping for unnecessary things and being frivolous with our money, then there’s a higher likelihood that they will pick up this mentality even without us knowing. On the contrary, if we are careful and appreciative of what we have, then they too will pick that up.
    Of course there is no denying that as they grow older, they will start to compare what they have with their neighbors be it classmates, friends or cousins and that’s when we have to step in and teach them the difference between a necessity and a want.
    Personally I feel that I’ve been giving too much to Sophie as well to the point that she doesn’t even take care of her belongings. So these days when she asks for more toys, I’ll explain that she can only buy them if it’s her birthday or special occasions like Christmas.
    Thanks for the reminder and it’s time that I lead by example as well.

    Rachel Reply:

    We are our children’s best role model indeed, that’s something that I do need to take note of constantly.

  5. Hey Rachel, I think it’s an impt aspect of childhood life that you’ve brought up. Something even we take for granted because we never really had to strive for the things we have today. I think it’s good to expose our kids to the lives of the under-privileged, and also to let them learn to fend for themselves / earn some of these “entitlements” so that they really value each and every opportunity. When they learn how to value and cherish something because it wasn’t handed over to them just like that, I think that’s half the battle won. =)
    June´s last blog post ..Lessons in love, from the big screen

    Rachel Reply:

    You have just reminded me that I should really bring K again to visit the poor family. Kids can be forgetful especially when they are surrounded by the comforts in life. Also a good point that u brought up about earning for the rewards.

  6. I hear you, Rachel. I too need to teach my girls about good ethics, responsibility, independent, and trying her best at whatever she has been privileged to have. My elder girl is taking piano class and I have to threaten her almost every other day for not practising her piece. I hate to see her not appreciating what she is having!

    Though it is getting easier to ask her to share things with meimei, it is still hard to explain why meimei sometimes get to have new shoes, new toy or having fun in playground without her, she doesn’t. She stomped her footsteps towards her room and slammed the door. Sooner or later, she will kill me for another “unfairness”, so-called.

    My take is, it is a constant battle that we should not give up. I am doing whatever I can to educate her about her privilege, about appreciation. I gotto tell her about great-grandmother’s story on how they struggled for a living in early days. Consciously, I limit my spending on them. I have two children, seriously, we can’t afford to give both all kind of privilege.

    Looking around, if I don’t be the bad person to make life difficult for her and her sister. No one would.

    Rachel Reply:

    Yes PC I agree with u that we need to be tough on our kids sometimes to teach them life lessons. It is our instinct as a loving parent to want to provide easy solutions for our child, and solve their problems quickly, however this can be at the expense of the child not learning for him/herself.

  7. Hmmmm… not sure if Kyle is behaving as if he is taking the tennis class for granted by not listening to his coach, looks like he is probably enjoying socialising his friends so much that he forgot he has to listen to his coach… :) Anyways, on entitlements, could we work on nurturing a child to give thanks/ and to be contented heart. Adults tend to “compare” ourselves with those less privileged in order to give thanks for our circumstance – something which I thought has more to do with arrogance than compassion, so I am not going there.

    Also creating a culture within the family of not being too quick to “fix it” if they fall? i.e: if a child says he is bored, the parent could tell him to find a solution instead of handing him an iPad (nothing against iPad) or tell him to go play his toys (giving him a solution vs letting the him figure it out). Perhaps little acts of age-appropriate responsibilities around the house or out of house could help. i.e: Carry own water bottle, helping a sibling/friend, being able to make sense of his own time/space without being entertained constantly by an adult or TV.

    Rachel Reply:

    I agree that we should not be giving thanks as a result of comparison, but learning how to be thankful regardless of the circumstance. That’s a great reminder for myself and for K that I need to teach him to be thankful of what he has. Children though I feel need something qualitative to help them relate, so comparison sometimes is the best way to let them understand that they are very privileged.

  8. Just started my 1st motherhood journey near 3mths back and chanced upon the blog. Thank God to find like-minded parents still and just want to say its been a great blessing just reading through your various entries.:)