Some time ago, blogger Kristen Welch posted a simple and clear list of signs that young people are struggling with a sense of entitlement. Whether you’re a teacher, a coach, a parent, an administrator, a youth worker or an employer, these are signals you’ll want to keep your antennas up to spot:
1. I want it now. Kids are impatient, and who can blame them? We live in a drive-thru culture and, instant gratification is, well, instant. Often, we find ourselves living in fear of saying no because our children are used to getting what they want. Earning something has psychologically proven things, events, and accomplishments more valuable.
2. I don’t want to work for it. Why work when it can be given to you? It fosters a cycle of laziness and poor work ethic when we constantly give to our children without requiring any work. We need to create entry points starting at a young age for our children to contribute to household chores and jobs. This includes compliments. Cheer your child on, but don’t give them empty compliments or rewards for non-behavior.
3. I don’t have to clean up my mess. We battle this one often. I’m learning to choose my wars. But I believe this is also responsible living. If you make a mess, you clean it up. This also has to do with social messes. Deleting a friend doesn’t clean a mess.
4. I want it because everyone else has it. A 7 year old has asked for an “Elf on the Shelf” every day this week. Why? Because she feels left out that many of her friends have one. And that’s awesome for them, but I don’t want that to be the focus of our season, and I honestly don’t have time or energy to create things for the stuffed animal to do. The bottom line for us: it’s okay for you not to have what everyone else has. A 9 year old has a cell phone. A classmate asks for one from her mother because she feels left out. “Why do you need a cell phone? There is no where you’ll be that I won’t be able to contact you and there is no one you need to call without me there. You don’t get a cell phone.” I loved her response. A child doesn’t really need one until they are driving, and it doesn’t have to be a smart phone, does it?
5. I expect you to fix all my problems. I love to help my students out. But there’s a fine line between helping and aiding bad behavior. I found it the perfect chance to teach them about hard work and let them solve their own dilemma with access to a safe and encouraging adult. It is scary to fix your own problems, so hold their shield while they wield their sward.
5 1/2. I don’t have to be responsible. Because of the YOLO culture, teens don’t seem to understand that they must still be responsible for the life they live and the people the affect. Don’t give disrespect to those who teach and nurture (bite the hand that feeds you), don’t interrupt when being spoken to, don’t cut in line, and it is ok to be wrong (because you will be often). Take responsibility for acting poorly.
Talk to me. What other signs would you add to this list? What are you doing to curb a sense of entitlement in the students you lead?