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Feeling Entitled Can Stunt Your Child's Motivation and Drive

The potential long-term damage of giving adolescents all they want.

Key points

  • Sometimes parents are so invested in our kids being happy that they over-indulge them by buying things they want but may not need.
  • Social media can lead adolescents to feel inadequate and that they have to purchase expensive items to feel good about themselves.
  • Without the motivation to achieve their own goals, children may not develop the skills and education they need for success in their lives.
  • Working for the things they want in life can help teens feel empowered and more confident in themselves.

These days, adolescents can get caught up in wanting more and more material things to feel they fit in with their friends. Due in part to the influence of social media, it may not be good enough to just have the items they need, such as clothes and other accessories. Many children want (and sometimes demand) designer items that can cost many times the cost of a comparable non-designer product. Some children come to believe that clothes must come from a certain designer, sneakers must be a limited edition, and cell phones have to be the latest model.

As parents, we want our children to have the things they want. Unfortunately, when we indulge excessive materialism, we may be ultimately disadvantaging them without realizing it.

Developing Motivation

One of the things that teens need to develop to be successful in our society is the motivation to better themselves. A “fire in the belly” helps children strive for success and work toward achieving their goals and accomplishing what they want in life.

These days, some parents have lost the understanding that children may need to work for what they want. In fact, many parents take great pride in making life as easy as possible for their teens and providing them with the latest designer items they want.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to everyone; however, more and more parents who have built successful lives for themselves are succumbing to the pressures that social media has put on adolescents. When teens believe they must have designer clothes, highly-priced purses, or custom sneakers, parents may give in and purchase items for status as much as practicality. When this happens, it can give children the impression that things will just be provided to them in their lives.

This can be problematic as adolescents grow into adulthood. After all, if they are accustomed to getting what they want without working for it, they are probably going to be in for a rude awakening when they get out on their own and see the costs of living in our society.

What's more, one of the things that working for what you achieve gives you is a sense of empowerment that you can reach your goals. It gives you an awareness of economic responsibility and an appreciation for the value of what you purchase.

Feelings of Entitlement

As a parent, if you’ve worked hard for the lifestyle you have, remember you are providing it free of charge to your children. As a result, they may feel they are entitled to this lifestyle because it has always been there for them.

This is dangerous as it may make a teen feel they don’t have to work hard to achieve their own success in life if it has all been provided to them. Then, when the time comes to strike out on their own, they may have a rude awakening of how privileged they’ve been and now have to face a much more difficult economic situation.

Empowering Children for Success

The bottom line is we all want to make our children happy and help them get what they want in life. However, it’s not beneficial to use the financial resources our hard work has given us to provide them with things that create a false sense of security. After all, if you don’t want to support them the rest of their lives, they’re going to have to learn to achieve their own success and develop the skill sets to do so.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to everyone. For those that it does, it’s helpful to realize that one of the benefits of having to work for the things they want—beyond what you feel is reasonable to provide—is helping your teen understand the value of money. There’s one perspective when their parents buy them an expensive watch because it impresses their friends, and quite another when they have to earn the money to purchase it. After all, when it’s their money, perhaps they will see the difference in value between the designer watch and the one that costs a fraction of the price and tells time just as well.

We all want our children to be successful. We want our kids to have what they want and appreciate what they have. Quite often, the things that teens most appreciate are the things they’ve earned themselves. This enables them to feel empowered and able to manage their own lives.

The next time your child wants something, think about ways they might be able to earn it for themselves. They might balk at first, yet it could also help create a pathway that can help them see the value in working toward their goals to achieve the things they want.

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