You're Not That Special

Why do so many people have a sense of entitlement these days? How can I prevent my children from having a "me-first" mindset?

It seems like some people only think about themselves.

You see the evidence everywhere these days: rude drivers, foul language, bad tempers and frivolous lawsuits. I'm guilty of selfish thinking, too – I’ll be the first to admit it.

Where does this behavior (in adults, especially) come from? It had to start somewhere.

I want my children to grow up to be good citizens, good people, good friends. I certainly don't want them to end up with a “me-first mentality.”

How to avoid it, though? How can I train them to avoid being contaminated by the selfishness that's around us every day? I can’t help but think of how we are constantly bombarded with reality shows, teased by ads for $2500 shoes and made aware of millions of political campaign dollars spent recklessly in our country while thousands of Americans are out of work, cold and even starving.

At the risk of sounding like an old fogey (do people even use that word anymore?) I've noticed that "kids these days" seem to be entering young adulthood with a sense of entitlement. They expect success (and the accolades and rewards that come along with it) even if they've done nothing - or very little - to earn it. They think they’re special - and then when they aren't treated that way in “the real world,” they become highly offended, dejected – even despairing.


Other than the obvious media hype, there must be other things, too. I've been thinking about this. I try really hard to make my kids feel like they’re special. They are special to me, to their families, to their friends, to God.

But are they better than anyone else? Nope.

Wow. Now that I type that out, it seems much more like a concrete truth. I don't want to raise them with a sense of entitlement. How can I teach them that while they are important – and even “special” – that they don't deserve "special treatment?"

These days, it seems like there’s a trophy for everyone. No one wants to feel bad – and of course no one wants their kids’ feelings to get hurt, including me. But guess what? If my child never feels bad – if she never has to learn to deal with feelings of rejection or sadness, then how the heck is she supposed to deal with those feelings when she’s an adult? Childhood is training for life!

I guess what I’m trying to say here – even to sort out in my own mind – is this: am I doing things that might cause my kids to be inconsiderate? To feel entitled?

I recently read something along the lines of this: If a little bit of praise is good for a child’s self-esteem, then a LOT of praise must be great for a child’s self-esteem. Right?

Hmm. I don’t think so. If I praise my child for regular old everyday things, like: “Hey, good job brushing your teeth! Good work hanging up your coat! You are the best scooter rider ever!” just so they’ll feel good about themselves, doesn’t it downplay the times when they actually work hard to achieve something? In their heads, they must be thinking, “What’s the big deal? Anybody can brush their teeth. Sheesh.”

I don’t want them to feel good about themselves because I am proud of them. Who knows? I may not be around forever.

No, I want them to feel good because they are proud of themselves.

I want them to feel good because they earn that feeling – because they actually accomplish something or they help someone or they stand up for what they believe is right.

Not because they are entitled.  

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Nathaniel Brooks February 25, 2013 at 10:06 PM
You people criticize this entitlement culture like you didn't have anything to do with it. All issues of pain and strife going on in this world currently can be accredited to the previous three generations. Along with the current younger generation who is in power unwillingness to do the fair logical thing. No offense, but I don't need some 80 year old guy in congress making policy for me. Can we all agree that he has probably lost touch with reality. They thought you could have your cake and eat it too. And I guess they were sort of right because now most of them are dead and gone and we are left here to clean up their mess. Turns out cake is expensive and now it's time to pay the piper. You see when you take and take and take under the false pretense of a mandate from heaven things tend to lose balance. What we have here currently is that loss of balance coming to full fruition.
Nathaniel Brooks February 25, 2013 at 10:07 PM
I wish I had the answer to the problem, but I don't. I don't believe that the Amish have this entitlement problem going on in their community. I wonder why? Most people today aren't worth the extra soft Charmin they wipe their butt with. We have become a nation of cry babies and non-thinkers. The politicians are crooks, the police are crooks, the judges are crooks and the district attorney's office is fool of crooks too. Do as I say not as I do lol. A house built on a shifty foundation can not stand. Don't get me wrong, it will stand for a while then it will start to lean and then well it'll start to crumble, and then it will buckle and crush its own self, no longer able to support its weight. Fresh Organic food, clean water, good beer, free renewable energy, and free love. See, there, problem solved. That wasn't so hard.
Callie E. February 27, 2013 at 04:44 AM
I think a lot of the entitlement culture is a direct result of so-called "expert" child-rearing philosophies of the past 30 years or so. Don't damage your kid's self-esteem by telling them they were wrong! Don't damage their fragile minds by "not giving them a trophy" like the author said. Good grief, when did we become such goody-two-shoes in this country? This is supposed to be a country of workers! Of fighters! Of upstanding citizens! Not a bunch of weenie cry baby "I'm telling" lazy good-for-nothing losers. It's no wonder the US is going to hell in a handbasket. If more people - more PARENTS - don't get on board the CORRECT bandwagon, we can just forget a reversal of the downward spiral that we are in.
Lou Schott February 28, 2013 at 01:14 AM
Do you intend to operate in an environment of trust and respect? Or, do you intend to operate in fear and anger? Your intentions will pull you into the future and further expand or limit your choices. Positive or negative reinforcement will further shape your situation.
Sharon March 19, 2013 at 04:12 AM
Devone, you've made some good observations in this article. Much of this problem is because children are not being taught to respect themselves and others, and to 'love their neighbors as themselves'. "Bring up a child in the way he/she should go..." Parents have a LOT of responsibility! Children really do live what they learn. May God bless as you rear your children!


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