Entitlement is an unrealistic expectation of special treatment. It’s an expectation of getting something without having to do anything yourself. Entitlement is expecting others to care about you, without really having to care about them. It is expecting to have your needs met, but not having to consider the needs of others. It shows up as a lack of empathy and a lack of personal responsibility. I believe this behavior is a learned behavior.
How is it learned?
The simple answer would be that children learn this at home. They learn it somewhere where they are catered to without having to do too much. They don’t learn too much personal responsibility. They don’t learn empathy for other people in their relationships at home. In teaching children that they are deserving of special treatment, yet are not responsible for their actions, we teach entitlement. But we also teach dis-empowerment. After all, one who is not responsible for himself, does not learn to be capable and confident. One who has had everything done for him, does not learn to do for himself. Not feeling capable is an incredibly insecure feeling. It’s a sad situation that I think is leading to a lot of anxious, and angry children… who surprisingly are coming from privileged homes.
It’s strange how a privileged or entitled position actually leads to a kind of dis-empowerment. This is why you see entitled children growing up with low self esteem and sense of anxiousness. It might not look like it, but deep down, so many entitled people are insecure and do not feel proud of themselves, in control, or capable.
So how are we doing this? What is happening at home? Here are some things leading to Entitlement:
👉Parents do too many things for their children because the parent is impatient or anxious and likes to be in control.
👉Parents do too many things for the child because the parent doesn’t like to see the child struggle and get upset.
👉Parents fear rejection from the children, if boundaries and limits and responsibilities are given to the child.
👉Parents do too many things for the child because the parent wants to feel loved and needed.
👉Parents do too many things for their child because they think their child is delicate or that their child can’t do it.
👉Parents teach their children that they are uniquely special and deserve special treatment above other people.
👉Parents avoid teaching personal responsibility because it’s easier, less friction to not teach it. Short term thinking.
👉Parents reject the teachings of personal responsibility because of their own bad past childhood experiences.
👉Parents were shamed and punished and so equate bad feelings with holding their kids accountable. They don’t know that it can be done in a positive and loving way.
👉Parents may simply forget or feel they don’t have time to teach their children about empathy and personal responsibility.
👉Parents might not know how to properly teach children the skills of empathy and personal responsibility. Parents might inadvertently be modeling something different then what they’d actually like to teach.
What is the Answer?
Take stock and be honest. Are you doing the things above? If so, get help.
Spend time teaching empathy, encourage autonomy, give responsibility, and practice dealing with challenging situations. Adopt a “Growth Mindset” for you and your children. Start now, have patience, be positive, and trust that you are doing the right thing.
You will thank yourself for it later, and so might your kids.
Empowerment is the antidote to Entitlement…and this is how empowered people think:
“I am capable”
“I am responsible for me”
“I am learning”
“I like myself and care about myself”
“I care about others”
“I care about others”
It’s such a good feeling.