It's up to Us to Turn the Tide of Entitled Kids

by Laura Richards May 22, 2016

I'm going to say it.

We are unleashing a generation of spoiled, entitled young people and soon they will become society’s problem. Of course, I'm not talking about all kids. However, the issue is pronounced and more widespread than ever before. These are kids who have been given much with little to nothing asked in return. Recently a friend told me about a situation at work where a late 20-something guy (who still lives at home with his parents) was wreaking havoc in their office with his terrible attitude. He's in an entry level position, but complains continuously and repeatedly asks for more money. He feels he's grossly underpaid and under-appreciated. Their HR person is trying to work with him as a mentor, but due to his resistance he has become a lost cause so will likely be out of a job soon. Others before him worked that very same entry level job and did whatever was needed to become valuable to the company. They were promoted, but this guy made it clear that he simply “Wasn’t into that.” Another friend, a teacher, was sharing that her private school students continually complain that she’s one of the few teachers who doesn’t automatically give them a "4" grade, which is equivalent to an A. Her fellow teachers hand out 4's as the parents expect, regardless of the students performance. She said, “Why should I reward them with a 4 which means ‘above and beyond in effort and coursework’ when they continually goof off, leave my class and don’t complete assignments? I can’t do it in good conscience.” Another friend recently relayed that at his company there's a new training program conducted by management for current employees, about how to deal with the influx of younger workers. These newest employees lack the social skills and tenacity to fit current standards within the corporation. I was speechless, and so was he! It’s hard to tell where this whole thing went off the rails. However, when I was a kid back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, every spring we had Field Day at our school, where only three trophies for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place were up for grabs. Everyone wanted to win. But those of us who didn’t, we left with a popsicle and the knowledge that the best boy or girl had won their rightful prize. We now live in a society where every kid on a team gets a medal or trophy just for showing up. (Or maybe even not!) So how is this a good thing? What message is it sending? As a mom of four boys, it means that kids will be rewarded for breathing, as there's no need to work hard or put forth an effort. The concept of excellence? They have no idea what that means. They're just as good as everyone else. Well, that’s not the case boys and yes it’s my job to remind you of that as your mom as I love you too much not to. So how are we going to right this ship? By doing our jobs as parents. We can’t really blame the kids. It requires involved, consistent and dogged parenting. Parenting is hard; it’s 24/7 and just throwing up your hands with a “Whatever, kids will be kids I’m just waiting for them to move out,” attitude isn’t going to cut it. You only get a few years to make an impression before you unleash them into society so make it count.
Fostering a grateful attitude is key and this is achieved by service.
Set boundaries, teach gratefulness and appreciation for other’s time and property. Teach them that life won’t reward them for just showing up, that you don’t get ahead by being served but by serving. That most of the time you get out what you put in so show up early and stay late. Be polite. Spend less time in front of a screen and more time outside interacting with others of all ages. Let’s teach our kids to look adults in the eye and shake their hands with confidence as they introduce themselves. Pick up trash instead of walking by it. Be tough, have high expectations as kids will rise to the bar you set most of the time - even your special needs kids! Fostering a grateful attitude is key and this is achieved by service. Get to know your neighbors and find someone who could use an extra hand FOR FREE. Our boys have raked leaves, shoveled driveways, done yard work, helped care for pets, brought down food, unloaded groceries and just visited with a lonely elderly neighbor for the heck of it. Many have wanted to pay them for their efforts which sometimes is warranted, but learning to serve with no expectation of something in return is key. This helps them to see outside of themselves and realize that the world does not revolve around them. When they say they are bored, I tell them to visit so and so down the street as I’m sure she has a few chores around the house. Sometimes they go other times they find something to do with their time. Yes, we are all works in progress, but the seed has been planted. So let’s roll up our parenting sleeves and not let these kids slip through our fingers like sand as they are our future bosses, doctors, lawyers, daycare providers, and leaders. They will be making decisions for us someday so let’s set a good example for our kids and take off our hats when we are at a table, give up our seat to someone on a bus or train, hold doors open for others. We can turn this tide of entitlement so our kids will be welcomed, not dreaded, additions to any workplace or future endeavor.

Laura Richards


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