A Sense of Entitlement

En•ti•tle•ment

  • 1a: the state or condition of being entitled: right
  • 1b: a right to benefits specified especially by law or contract
  • 2: a government program providing benefits to members of a specified group; also: funds supporting or distributed by such a program
  • 3: belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges

-Webster

It is easy for me to accept the fact that young children, from birth to about age five, exude a sense of entitlement. The world is all about them and they deserve it. The first few years of life are full of lessons learned through observation and experience. Dendrites are growing and connections are made during this important time in life. Infants and toddlers are egocentric and don't really have a sense of other aside from recognizing there are others. On the other hand, a sense of entitlement coming from pre-teens and older youth is harder for me to digest and accept.

An Innocent Baby
An Innocent Baby

In my experience, children will typically develop a larger sense of other as they progress through their early educational years. When they are in Kindergarten, five year-olds are all about themselves, especially if they have had no preschool experience. As they learn to share and socialize with their peers, they start to realize that relationships are two-way streets. In order to have a relationship, one must not only take, but one must also give. Based on my observations, this understanding begins to really take shape and becomes ingrained around age seven or eight...at least this is true for the typical child.

No doubt, parenting is one of the most difficult things a person faces in his/her life. It is not easy. Unfortunately, the trend that I am observing is that today in 2011, children do not quite develop that sense of other early and more of them are living their teens and early adult years with a huge sense of entitlement. More children are exhibiting inappropriate behavior, lacking discipline, and getting what they want all the time whether it is right or not. There are two main reasons why I think children are the way they are today...and neither of them are their fault.

Reason #1 ~ Parents repeatedly rescue or bail our their children. Through observations made over the last ten years, I have found that more and more children depend on their parents to get them out of trouble or save them rather than taking ownership and responsibility for their own actions. When children forget their homework or lunch at home, they have a strong urge to call home so that their parents can bail them out. In my opinion, if the child forgets their homework at home, they should suffer the consequences set in place for tardy work when they remember to bring it back to school. The "phone-home" phenomenon is more difficult to control today because many children, as young as second grade (age 7), have their own cell phones and can text their parents. Teachers are getting better at not accepting the homework that parents deliver to schools throughout the day. This happens with lunches as well, even though there is always a hot lunch or sandwich option in schools for those who forget their lunches. Children learn the wrong lesson because they think that their parents can always bail them out and they don't learn about responsibility.

Even worse, I have seen parents go to schools and try to talk teachers and principals into retracting their consequences because Johnny was wronged by others and had no responsibility whatsoever in the situation. This occurs even when an adult was the one who witnessed the incident. Parents tend to believe their children over the adults in the schools these days. It is amazing how many parents don't feel their children deserve consequences for their actions or don't believe their children were even involved in the incident!

The act of parents bailing out their children and ridding them of responsibility leads children to an increased sense of entitlement. Children feel like their parents, teachers, and others owe them something. If children don't learn that for every action there is either a positive or negative consequence, and they only experience positive consequences, (mom or dad rescuing them) they risk growing up with increasing senses of entitlement through their teen years. Children grow up thinking they can do no wrong because their moms' words and actions show them that they can do no wrong.

Reason #2 ~ Parents use bribery as part of their child's discipline plan. Rather than internally motivating their children to do what's right, parents turn the other way. There is a growing number of parents who would rather be their child's friend than be their child's parent. They give children expensive toys to keep them at bay. If children promise to be good, they get rewarded with video games, other electronics, cell phones...you name it! Sometimes, this is the result of parents not knowing what to do with their high maintenance, demanding kids. Other times, it is the result of parents not having time nor the patience to deal with the situation. Children are not stupid...they know exactly how to play their parents. It is their full-time job to figure out their parent's buttons and then push them regularly. When parents cave, they teach their children that just a little fussing ends up with a bribe resulting in a gift in the end if they can just keep it together for a short period of time. In my opinion, children should behave well without any rewards. That should be the expectation given to a child that goes without saying. Children who are used to bribery grow up with a sense of entitlement. They come to expect the gifts and feel their parents owe it to them. They get angry when they aren't rewarded with something they want.

Love and Logic Parenting: How to say, "No."

In The End

One can argue that perhaps, in the end, these children will turn into adults and all will be fine again as they mature. I would say that it all depends on the influences these children encounter along the way. A sense of entitlement in earlier life perpetuates a lifestyle where people are not willing to take responsibility for their own actions. They are quick to blame others and leave it to others to pick up the slack. In the end, the result could be that entitled children turn out to be unproductive members of society with poor work ethic.


**Understand that there are still plenty of well-rounded, responsible, hard-working children in the world. This is just a trend I'm noticing...an increase in children who have the sense of entitlement.

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Comments 15 comments

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America

Voted Up and rated.


gypsumgirl profile image

gypsumgirl 5 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado Author

Thank you, Patty. Thanks for reading and relating!


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Hi gypsumgirl, I took time to ponder on the topic that you wrote. In preschool where I am connected, I often see the issues that you have written there. In our own little way, we do try to show some parents another perspective to handling certain situations like guiding the child to be more responsible. Some respond and some don't. I guess it also matters where if the parents have reached the point of understanding/wisdom about such issues. Thank you for writing about this. This will give us the chance to reflect!

Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination. Do check it out: http://bit.ly/hM8cTJ

Participate in the Hubnuggets forum: http://hubpages.com/forum/topic/66692#post1460959


gypsumgirl profile image

gypsumgirl 5 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado Author

Thank you, ripplemaker. As an elementary school principal, I encounter this phenomenon regularly. As educators, we try hard to steer our students in the right direction, no matter their age. Thank you for working with preschoolers. It is a challenging, thankless job.

I am excited to receive a Hubnuggets nomination. Thanks for the links!


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

Oh my, a hubnugget nomination. And, I wasn't even aware of it until I saw ripplemaker here. She's the official announcer. What I was going to say was, I loved this hub. It is a hot topic among myself and my girlfriends and daughters. My daughter Cara, who is a hubber here (cardelean) is an elem. school teacher and gets the attitude from both students and parents.

I'm amazed, sickened, frustrated at times, angry at other times with the entitled attitude of not just teens, but adults. As a nurse I am always taken aback by the entitled patient that comes in, creates chaos on the unit, yet wants special treatment.

We discuss this wondering what has happened, why parents allow this and what can be done to reverse it. Well, the conclusion I have personally come up with is that there is so much pressure from the media, the 'other' kids at school and in the neighborhoods, the music that is played, the examples that are shown in every day life, i.e. political figures, church leaders, etc., that we are being inundated with bad behavior. And, the 'bad' behavior, the rudeness, the prevalent narcissism within our society, has no consequences or accountability for it.

The parents who do attempt to set limits and follow through with teaching children consequences for the choices they make, are outnumbered! (or so it seems sometimes). In addition, parents seem to support this behavior almost out of a vicarious acting out of their own fantasies of rebelling.

It isn't just one thing, it is a complex situation that crosses the nation, (the world?), and socioeconomic levels.

I am aware, btw, of the love and logic parenting through a sibling who has used it and feels it is a very positive parenting tool.

Enough of my opinion; article well written on an important topic. Welcome to hubpages and congrats on your nomination. Be sure to check out cardelean. She won the hubnugget nomination last week for her category: books, literature and writing.


gypsumgirl profile image

gypsumgirl 5 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado Author

Denise, thanks for your extremely insightful and thoughtful response. It really got me thinking again about what I wrote... I guess I shouldn't be surprised that there are so many adults who exude a sense of entitlement. I see it more with children due to the setting I'm in. I'm sure Cara and I would have many stories that are similar...

Again, thanks for your comments... :)


Africa Unlimited profile image

Africa Unlimited 5 years ago from UK

I enjoyed reading this HUB.

It is something I have often thought of, there are a few issues.

1. Young children should have some kind of sense of entitlement, especially during the formative years, or they will grow up to be underachievers and not believe that the world is big enough and wealthy enough to provide the means for success for themselves. However, this must be tempered with the understanding that "they must do their part or contribute toward the situation to deserve what they are entitled to" I found with my children when they were growing up if I held regular family meetings and laid out the various responsibilities, mine was to provide a roof over their heads, food to eat and education, their Mom's was to be the home executive and see to the physical wellbeing of the family and the pets (their Mom also held down a part time job to get some social interaction and some money of her own which she was not accountable to anyone for), their responsibility was to do chores around the house and property and get good results at school. It was a simple basic beginning, but they understood they had responsibilities. By the time they got to tertiary education, they were doing part time jobs for pocket money and getting A's for their studies.

2. Parents who have struggled or gone without as children want their children to have everything they didn't have, this is a natural reaction, but if they do everything for their children and the children nothing for themselves or the household, they will grow up being wastrels and underachievers.

3. The deification of children in the UK has led to a situation where many children are growing up to be anti social, because of this sense of entitlement. Its not all or even the majority of them but if not arrested this will become a bigger problem. Personally if children are ill mannered around me and use abusive language when women are around I will correct them, this has mixed reactions.

4. People in the west have generally become more indulgent of their children and this is leading to the west becoming more and more uncompetitive, the Japanese, South Koreans, Chinese,Vietnamese etc apply the work ethic and are entrepenurial. The west's comfort zone is going to be shaken very soon, economically. It all starts with the overindulgence of children.

Just my opinion and experience, some might disagree.


justom profile image

justom 5 years ago from 41042

Yeah, let's blame the parents for everything. I had the feeling while reading this that you were a teacher or at least part of the school system. I'll refrain from ranting about the teachers union and the fact that a lot of educators don't really have the best interest of the kids in their grasp. There is enough blame to go around so maybe as an adult you should take a look in the mirror. Peace!! Tom


gypsumgirl profile image

gypsumgirl 5 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado Author

Africa Unlimited: It seems to me like you did a great job teaching your children that with responsibility and accountability come rewards. You taught them that what they were entitled to was related to their contributions. They were lucky to have a parent like you. I would agree with your points made about a line that must be drawn between parents giving their children what they themselves may have lacked growing up and overindulgence / entitlement.

Thank you for reading my hub and chiming in!


gypsumgirl profile image

gypsumgirl 5 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado Author

Justom: Thank you for your opinion as I am open-minded and welcome all perspectives.

Please do not judge me, however, when you don't know me and the experiences I have had. Don't ask me to look in the mirror when you don't even know me and what I have dedicated my life to every single day. I find that offensive especially since you don't know me at all. I strongly feel that people are entitled to their own opinions without being judged. Feel free to disagree with my opinions but don't tell me what to do. I deserve to have opinions too.

If you finished reading my hub, you'll note that I acknowledged that many children are not raised with this sense of entitlement, but that this was a growing trend I have observed. An observed trend hardly equates to me blaming all parents for everything.


justom profile image

justom 5 years ago from 41042

Maybe you're right, I shouldn't judge you but I've probably got a chip on my shoulder about the state of the public education system in this country. I'm basing my opinions on what I see and hear. Having been around the social end of of teachers and administrators (even the president of the teachers union)I have heard things that make me wonder where common sense has gone and also question why some of these folks, as well intentioned as they are, do what they do. The education system (at least the public side of it) is broken and for the good of the kids everyone should work together to try to fix it. This by no means was meant to be a personal attack on you just on the system you are part of. Peace!! Tom


gypsumgirl profile image

gypsumgirl 5 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado Author

Justom: Point very well taken and I appreciate your response. I can also understand the chip on your shoulder as I would agree that the educational systems, both public and private, need overhauls. They are far from perfect. Thank you for shedding light on your intentions. In any case, the most influential adults in a child's life are first, and foremost the parents, and usually a close second are the teachers that the child encounters for over six, seven, eight hours everyday weekday during the school year.


justom profile image

justom 5 years ago from 41042

We agree :-D


DoItForHer 5 years ago

My two favorite parenting books of all time are first: "1-2-3 Magic". That helped me out to be much more consistent, which helped with teaching my daughter stuff. When she started getting it right, my frustration level went down and she got even better.

Then when I had a better hold of myself, the second book, "Parenting With Love and Logic", changed our lives. You have to read it to truly understand how beneficial it is.

Those two books helped me out more than anything before or since. 1-2-3 was better for when my daughter was younger and when I was much more ignorant. Then as me and my daughter matured, Love and Logic was inevitable.


gypsumgirl profile image

gypsumgirl 5 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado Author

DoItForHer: Thank you for mentioning the two resources. I am actually very familiar with both. I think 1-2-3 Magic is definitely very good for younger children, as you mentioned. Parenting w/L&L is one of my all time favorites...I have also read Teaching w/L&L and am a trained L&L educator. Jim Fay and Foster Cline are awesome!

Thanks for reading my hub and commenting!

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