How to Encourage Empowerment vs Entitlement
Thousands of families and kids later I have become able to identify the fine line between an empowered child and an entitled one. You want your kids to feel empowered. You tell them to speak up, be assertive and reach for their dreams. But what happens when you give your kids too much power? They become entitled which is quite different than empowered. An empowered kid has a strong sense of self, ambitions, dreams and direction. An entitled kid is bossy, demanding, dependent and usually not enjoyable to be around. Here’s how to build empowerment without crossing the line in to entitlement.
1. Give your kids what they need, not everything they want.
Showering gifts on your kids may feel good to you, but children develop an unhealthy sense of entitlement when there are no limits on their wants. Free stuff is okay now and then, but too much free stuff always backfires. And I do mean always. The more kids are given, the less they appreciate, and the more they demand. When it comes to gifts and rewards, moderation is best. A few meaningful items have more meaning than an endless bounty of plenty.
2. Never let your kids diss you.
I am routinely shocked by the way children speak to their parents. And that’s saying a lot since I’ve worked with thousands of families! I see children yell, curse and even hit their parents. Nothing destroys the peace of a household more than parents who let their kids get away with such shenanigans. No kid wants a parent he or she can push around. Kids who talk down to their parents suffer from low self-esteem, poor peer relations, depression and a lack of structure and parameters. So if your kid disses you regularly, don’t be wishy-washy. Put a stop to it. Be firm about behaviors that are unacceptable and strive to create a culture of mutual respect in your family.
3. Don’t be a “Fix Everything Parent”.
Fix Everything Parents are the hardworking superheroes of parenting, willing to do anything for their child in a heartbeat. However, they have a terrible habit of swooping in and saving their kids from frustrating situations. By doing so, they keep their kids dependent, rob them of growth opportunities and create gaps in their emotional development. Kids with Fix Everything Parents don’t think twice about bossing or manipulating them. It’s better to teach your kids how to work through frustration and come up with their own solutions. Don’t save the day! Remember, frustration is the fossil fuel that drives maturity. Helping your kids work through frustration is far more empowering than saving them from it.
4. Don’t be afraid to be unpopular. In fact, be ready for it!
Being a good parent requires making unpopular decisions now and then. If you surrender to temper tantrums or avoid conflicts to purchase peace, you’re setting the stage for bigger problems in the future by teaching your kids that negative behaviors get them what they want—and that’s the last message that you want to send. Grow a backbone, don’t be afraid to be unpopular. Model empowerment. In the end, your kids will appreciate and respect you more for it.
5. Fortify your leadership.
Put an end to your kids ruling the roost before it begins. Foster an environment of mutual respect in your family and empower your kids with healthy habits that will last them a lifetime.
I understand that this sounds simple but it’s not easy. I am always here to help. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions! Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.
Written by Lisa Smith