"Mom, can I have fifteen dollars to go to the movies with my friends?"
"Don't you have some of your own money?" I question.
"I spent it," my son replies with a frown quickly followed with his big dark brown puppy-dog eyes.
My heart yearns, "Give him what he wants!" But my brain argues back, "Don't do it, he will never learn!" I am torn in two. Do I just give him the money or insist he works to earn it himself? This same dilemma confronts countless parents each day.
This epidemic of children who think they deserve special treatment and extra privileges "just because" is becoming all too common. So what's the root cause of this problem? The same well-intentioned people who want it stopped-parents.
But if you are looking to raise an entitled and unmotivated teenager this year, follow these six steps exactly:
1. Constantly tell your teen they are smart
Teenagers who are consistently told they are smart tend to give up and become unmotivated when the work gets hard. Researcher Carol Dweck points out this fixed-mindset plagues many teenagers and limits their potential. Instead, Dweck suggests pointing out the process (instead of their intelligence) so teenagers adopt "a growth mindset" instead - which is essential for their current and future successes.
2. Never teach them to apologize
Teenagers who don't learn to apologize when they hurt or offend others are unmotivated to make amends for their actions. They think they are entitled to "treat others as they please." Unless you want to raise an entitled child, instead of allowing your child to grow up feeling they are better than others, teach them to apologize when they hurt or offend a sibling or friend. Point out the pain they cause and show them how to take responsibility for their actions.
3. Never let them fail
Parents who do not let their children fail are unknowingly hindering their growth. Today's teenagers have been taught that win or lose, they're always guaranteed a trophy just for participating. However, as Sal Khan shares on his insightful video, "Failing is just another word for growing." It's OK to let your teenagers struggle. Offer support so they can rise up and learn from their experience.
4. Constantly pick-up after them
Parents who constantly pick up after their teenagers only increase feelings of entitlement, irresponsibility and non-motivation. Instead, teach your teenagers to put away their own things. This helps them value what they have and feel grateful for their personal items.
5. Pay them for regular household chores
When teenagers are paid for chipping in around the house they feel entitled and eventually refuse to volunteer to help out. Instead, according to research at the University of Minnesota, parents should teach their teens about expectations around the house. As a member of the family, they need to chip-in and complete required chores without pay.
Teenagers who are regularly given money never feel the satisfaction of earning their own cash and deciding how to spend it. Instead, give them bigger jobs around the house such as mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, raking leaves or cleaning out closets to earn extra money. When they are old enough, teach them how to write a resume and apply for jobs so they can earn their own spending money. This decreases entitlement and increases competence, independence and motivation.
As a parent you might accidentally fall into the mindset that you are responsible to ensure your teenagers are happy, having fun, and enjoying the "good life." I've fallen into this mindset as well.
You might even think by giving them what they want and having few expectations or rules, they will reciprocate your kindness by making good choices and becoming a good person. But this thinking is like letting your teenagers eat ice cream, cookies, and pie for breakfast, lunch, and dinner while ignoring all the nutritious foods their bodies need. As a parent, you need to provide structure and direction for your children.
It is your responsibility to coach your teenagers as they grow so they can become successful and contributing members of society. Or you can raise entitled and unmotivated teenagers who might live with you for the rest of their lives-the choice is yours.