Are Children Becoming More Entitled?

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Are Children Becoming More Entitled?

April 22, 2021

Do the youth seem more entitled today? Are they expecting more?

As a teacher and parent, it is very tempting to nod my head and say, “YES!” However, it might be better to spend a little more time on this question.

If you look up the word “entitled” online you find the following definition: Having a right to certain benefits or privileges.

Are the youth nowadays expecting to be given special privileges and treatment as they develop and live their lives? The answer to that is, definitely! But only when I compare it with the privileges and treatment I received when growing up.

When I think back to what I was not given and not allowed to do when growing up, some things come to mind:

  1. I was not allowed to talk to a teacher like a peer.
  2. I did not have a personal computer until after I graduated High School.
  3. There was no such thing as a smart phone and the internet was still in its infancy. So, looking things up on the internet was non-existent. I had to go to the library if I wanted to know anything.
  4. If I wanted to know my grades, test scores, college acceptance results, or other pieces of information, I had to get it by mail or in person.
  5. Very few people had cellphones in high school. I only got one in my Junior or Senior year.
  6. It was terrible trying to coordinate plans with friends. Usually, I had to find a telephone and remember the right number to dial. Even then, it was still hard to get ahold of someone. This meant I had to miss out on social activities because it was so hard to reach my parents. I had to plan ahead.
  7. I did not choose which school to go to, what classes I took (for the most part), and even most of the time I couldn’t determine what I ate for lunch.
  8. Most everything in school was handwritten and we rarely used computers.
  9. Calculators and computers were not allowed on most tests.
  10. I did not have my own car throughout college, I had to borrow the family car. In high school I carpooled with other students.
  11. My idea of entertainment was roaming the neighborhood with friends and playing sports at a local park. It was rare for me to go to the movies or hang out at the mall.
  12. I was expected to babysit my siblings for my entire high school career.

These days, I see the younger generation expecting to get a smartphone when they are in elementary school or junior high. Many kids get a laptop in high school. They expect people to be flexible and change their plans with very little forewarning. They feel they shouldn’t have to make plans for anything and they expect to have a car or access to transportation when still in high school. They tend to want things quicker and they feel they shouldn’t have to wait for anything.

There are a couple of things to note here. First, there are a lot more things that the younger generation expect that I wouldn’t dream about getting when I was younger. And second, everyone is different, there are many of the younger generation that do not feel as entitled as described above – but, in general, the younger generation seems to expect they deserve more than I did when I was younger.

Why do people feel Entitled?

Where does the feeling of entitlement come from? Was this feeling just implanted in the blood of millennials and the younger generations? It’s very unlikely, but that feeling had to come from somewhere. But where? Why do young people expect that they deserve certain privileges and treatments?

The answer to this is very simple, just look around you. Look at what parents are doing. A child just doesn’t come to expect that they deserve certain things. They expect it, because it seems natural to them—because when growing up, their privileges were so common, that they felt like it was a part of life. What I call privileges, young people might call necessities.

This feeling either comes from their parents giving kids these privileges and special treatments or the children seeing it outside of their family enough that they feel they deserve them. It’s true, younger generations may feel more entitled, but that is because parents and society has changed from when I was young.

When I was young, getting a cellphone was not common in high school. The world also was not as quick and responsive. There were not as many conveniences as there are now. The internet has made life much easier. When I was kid, if you wanted to register for school, sport, club, apply for a job, you had to go in person. Now, you can do that from your own home. The availability of things has increased due to the global market. For example, when I was young, you couldn’t get fresh strawberries all year round. Now you can!

Nowadays, parents have become much less strict and physical with their children. When I was young, spanking and physical punishments were very much commonplace. Now, you see lawsuits against people who spank their kids too hard. You see teachers and adults getting in trouble for physical punishments on kids they are teaching and watching over.

The world has become quicker, more lenient, and more flexible than ever, and we wonder why the youth expect more? The internet also gives the youth access to what is happening everywhere, so they no longer are constrained by what is physically around them. They now admire the different privileges from all around the world.

The only reason why the youth are more entitled, is because society is changing and we are raising kids differently. In other words, we are the reason why kids are more entitled.

Is it good for young people to feel Entitled?

The next question we have to ask is, is it a good thing for young people to feel entitled? Is there an issue with the youth feeling like they deserve more and people should cater to what they want?

From what I have seen, this is not an issue. I think all parents would agree that when your children grow up and are looking for a job, finding a spouse, or making friends, you want your children to get the best! You don’t want them thinking they deserve the bottom of the barrel—you want them thinking that they deserve the cream at the top! You want your child to know they deserve to be treated well and to be given special privileges.

However, along with this, you don’t want your children to be rude, negative, degrading, etc. You want them to be like the actor Keanu Reeves! Someone that knows he deserves the best but is not going to degrade someone or be rude to someone for it. You want them to be someone who is nice, caring, and considerate, but at the same time to feel like they inherently deserve the best.

This is easier in theory than in practice.

5 Ways to Nurture Healthy Entitlement

1. Be a good example.

The best way a child can learn how to feel entitled but be a “good” and “polite” human being is by watching someone else. The best thing a parent can do for their children is to let them see what a developed adult should act like.

2. Expose them to life when they are young.

Children only busy themselves with what they care about. They are stuck in a silo and don’t understand reality outside of their little bubble. Providing experiences for your child where they can get out of their bubble and see what life is about and what others are going through, will help your child learn an accurate expectation of what they deserve and what they don’t. They will begin to realize what privilege really is.

3. Provide short and simple explanations of things.

Children don’t listen very well, but they do want to learn. The more a parent can give simple explanations for kids. the more likely the child will listen and learn from the experience. Usually, kids will have less issues than if a parent just said, “No” or “Because I said so”.

4. Treat them like adults without the anger.

For children to learn proper behavior, they have to experience how they will be treated if they behaved that way when they grow up. Parents can help their children by treating them with the respect they would give to a peer. For example, since my child is young, I can easily tickle him whenever I want, even when he doesn’t want to be tickled. However, I try to not tickle him when he doesn’t want to be tickled, just to respect his wishes. At the same time, when he is being too demanding and unreasonable, I don’t help him as much. I try to not get mad at him or reprimand him—I just leave or ignore him. Much like I would do to any of my coworkers. This helps him to realize if he wants help, how to act. This is one of the hardest things to do, but it is worth it tenfold.

5. Be their advocate.

It is a tremendous help if a parent becomes a child’s advocate instead of their teacher, judge, and police officer. As an advocate, you are a supporter, an adviser, and a helper. This relationship is one where the parent does not tell the child what to do, but helps them in getting what they want and advising them on the best course of action. This is also difficult to do, but if a parent can do it, they will find their child will grow up to be a mature human being.

About the Author

Read more about Dr. Jacob’s latest book.
Dr. Jacob Kashiwagi is business management consultant and acting Chairman of the Board for Leadership Society of Arizona. Dr. Jacob has worked on 1,100+ industry projects valued at $3.6 billion with a 95% success rate. He has taught over 1,300 college students and 2,500 high school students.

Read more articles by Dr. Jacob.