How to Deal with a Sense of Entitlement in Your Charges

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Let’s face it; nannies often work for parents that can afford to send their children to private schools, enroll them in the best activity programs and fulfill most of their wants and wishes. This doesn’t automatically lead to a sense of entitlement, though; there are plenty of privileged kids that don’t fall into that trap. However, it often does factor into a child’s feelings of having the right to have whatever he wants. So what can you do to combat this? Here are some ideas to help kids become more grounded and less entitled.

Focus on the rewards of effort. Many times, kids that have a strong sense of entitlement don’t see the value in hard work. They’re not used to investing their time and energy into achieving a goal, they’re used to things being done for them and being able to simply step in and enjoy the final result. One way to combat this sense of entitlement is to give kids ample opportunities to see the rewards of their efforts. Rather than do things for them, find ways to engage them in the doing. Expect them to contribute, to carry their own weight and to help out. Once they feel the pride and esteem that comes with pitching in, their sense of entitlement will start to evaporate.

Introduce them to the idea that there are others who are less fortunate. There’s a good chance your charge doesn’t understand in any real way that there are people who struggle to have the basics in life. While you naturally will want to protect your charge from the harshness of life, helping him understand there are others who are in need is a surefire way to quash an attitude of entitlement. Search out volunteer projects for children that you can get your charge involved in. Younger kids may like sorting through and donating gently used toys to needy children or setting up a lemonade stand to raise money for cancer research. Older children may like helping stock the local food pantry or putting together and passing out care packages for the homeless. Whatever the project, talk with your charge in age appropriate language about the challenges others face and how lucky you and he are to have the many blessings you do. Outline how the work you’re doing is helping them meet those challenges and impacting their lives.

Work together to develop a chore chart. It’s important that your charge learns that being part of a family means pitching in – and not just to earn something he wants, but simply because there are things that need to be done to keep things running and everyone has something worthwhile to contribute. Sit down with your charge and develop a list of things that he would like to do (or like to do more than others) to help out. The list could include helping with the laundry, setting the table, taking out the trash or any number of other things. By having your charge take part in the decision making process, it will be easier to get him to follow through. Your charge will soon learn that his contribution is valuable and the work he does for others really does make a difference. This understanding is an important factor in your charge’s self-esteem and chips away at his feelings of entitlement.

Model the attitude of gratitude. Being grateful for the things we have in our lives is one of the easiest ways to battle the entitlement dragon. By modeling a grateful attitude to your charge, you’ll pass along this very important message. Share with each other what you’re grateful for each day, help her start a gratitude journal or create a gratitude jar that the whole family adds to. By focusing on what she already has, she’ll slowly let go of always wanting more and more.

Share the lesson of money. Many kids don’t value what they have because it seems that those things have little value to those around them. There are no consequences for treating personal property poorly. Broken toys, torn clothes and lost equipment are quickly replaced. To stop this trend, work with your employers to set up an allowance or earning system for your charge. This doesn’t mean your charge has to earn all his things or that parents and other family members can’t indulge him. It simply means that he has to take responsibility for certain things and earn the money to purchase the item or to replace it if it’s lost or damaged. Making him responsible for a few things that are important to him will help him value those things in a real world way and appreciate the money it takes to purchase them.

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