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The 'Me' Generation

By: Clarissa Mariano-Ligon, Ph. D.The 'Me' Generation

Entitlement is defined as the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.  Based on this definition, do you think children nowadays are living in the culture of entitlement?  Are we living in this so-called ‘Me’ Generation?

Have you ever seen a child throwing tantrums at the mall because their parents did not buy what they wanted?  What about children opening birthday gifts one after the other, as if the presents received were not what they wanted, more so not even thanking the people who gave them the gifts?

Parents want the best for their children.  If they are happy, we are happy.  We want the best for them. Because of this desire, we become overindulging parents who say yes to their wants and requests.  Let’s take a look at some situations that might be happening in your household.  A good example is when we immediately stop whatever it is that we are doing to accommodate their requests – be it a snack because they are hungry or to get a toy that is out of their reach.   What is wrong with that?  By doing this, you are actually robbing your child the opportunity to practice the virtue of patience that is essential at present times.  More so, when you are busy and cannot attend to their requests, you are teaching them to rely on themselves, to try to make their own merienda or find ways to reach for the object they need.   Another example is by giving them rewards and prizes for almost all the good deeds that they have done.  Yes, they deserve the reward but by doing this, the children are now motivated to do what is right because of what they will receive after the act is completed.  What happened to the idea that doing a good act is a reward in itself?  In addition, because some of us are too busy with work, we try to compensate for the time away from them with material things or pasalubongs.  All these contribute to children being entitled, living in the ‘Me’ Generation, believing that they deserve a special kind of treatment even just by being alive.

What’s good is that it is not too late to break this feeling.  We can win this battle of sense of entitlement by trying these five suggestions.

  1. Prioritize on the needs – I mentioned parents giving in to wants, requests, and demands.  What should be given to them?  We need to be clear on the differences between needs and wants and let them know that needs are prioritized and wants are just a bonus. 
  1. Wants are earned – When children get what they want just because they requested it, they will not value what is given to them.  Reserve wants for special occasions.  This will allow your children to learn the value of gratitude as well as the sense of fulfillment in getting something they worked hard for. 
  1. Learn to say no – We feel bad when we say no to our children.  Even if it is difficult on our part, we adjust to accommodate their requests.  Sad to say, if we often say yes to our children, they will think that it is the norm.  Saying no teaches our children that they will not get everything that they want just because they asked for it. 
  1. Discuss the concept of perspective – Children with a sense of entitlement put themselves first and the rest second regardless if you are their mother, grandparent or sibling.  They need to learn compassion.  When they see certain situations from another person’s point of view, they will begin to understand the feelings of others and how their actions can affect them.
  1. Quality time – You will be surprised to find out that most children will trade their material things to spend quality time with their parents by doing simple activities like playing a board game or reading a book.  Parents are busy people but we just have to be creative in carving time out of our busy schedule to bond with them.   Keep in mind that what matters is not how much time is spent with your children but how present you are when you are with them.  Give them your 100% attention.  Set aside your smartphones. Clear your mind with tasks that need to be done.  Be physically and mentally present.   This way, they will learn that what matters most are not material things.

As parents, we put our children first.  But that doesn’t mean giving in to everything that they want. 

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