This is an issue that my fellow parents and I often discuss. Teens seem ungrateful. They seem to have quite a bit yet are always demanding and comparing as a matter of right. Not only teens, this is a problem with younger kids too who often end up behaving like entitled brats. This trait is so putting off, and it also does not bode well for their future. That said, it seems so difficult to raise humble, grounded teens these days.
Here are some methods that I try to avoid raising entitled teens. I would love to hear your thoughts on these:
1. Stop Doing Too Much for Your Teens
I know that our teens are studying way too hard. They also have so many extra- and co-curricular activities to manage along with classes. My teen has seen very few real holidays in the past couple of years. So yes, he does not have too much leisure time at hand. That, however, is no reason for me to do everything for him. If we want our sons and daughters to be self-sufficient, there is no other way around it. Starting from making their bed to cleaning their own wardrobe, folding their clothes, keeping their school books, bags etc. in order, they must be able to take care of their own chores. I leave their beds unmade if they don’t do it. If they forget, I remind daily till they remember to do it. Conditioning is important for chores. I hate it when children leave mess around as a matter of right and expect their moms to pick up after that. Most times, I just leave that item behind and point out when they are back to put it in its place. I am sure that slowly they will build the habit of taking care of themselves and their belongings.
2. Make Them Do Household Chores
Have you noticed how teens hardly do any household chores? This is because at home we moms don’t expect our sons and daughters to do any chores. As a parent it is my responsibility to raise teens who don’t consider any chore too small or beyond their reach. Hence I make them help me when I cook. Not only will they learn how to cook as they are both foodies, but it is an important life skill that they would learn. I seek their help when I do gardening or composting. They are expected to iron their school uniform. Recently they started folding their clothes after I Marie Kondo’ed their wardrobes. They hang clothes from the washing machine. And both the sons know basic cooking like making eggs, toast, noodles etc. They are also learning dishes like dal and rice and how to make basic vegetable dishes. They help in dusting and vacuuming as well. There was a time when the older son did scanning for my business bills, and I paid him for the work. Kids can handle responsibility. All we need to do is give them work.
3. Avoid Excess
Don’t give the best of everything even if you can afford it. It makes your kids entitled expecting that everyone should give them nothing but the best. A perfectly working phone is good enough for your kids. A hand-me-down old phone or a basic new model should suffice. To tell you the truth, I am baffled when I see teens owning latest iPhones or expensive phones. If we don’t teach our kids the value of money, how will they learn?
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4. Let Them Handle Tricky Situations on Their Own
As a parent, it is our endeavour to make life easier for our children. So we shield them from troubles, help them when they are in a sticky situation and generally butt in with solutions to problems. As a result, our teens may be incapable of handling the simplest situations on their own. They lack patience, tact, diplomacy and basic life skills for day-to-day situations. Last year, my younger son was struggling as he was finding it harder to make friends. He struggles to speak up when something or someone bothers him. And while I counsel him, it is something that he needs to learn to become responsible and capable of handing life situations. This year, he has managed to make many friends and in the bargain learnt precious life lessons. I helped him with role-play when stuck. But slowly giving him the reins of his own life situations helps him become empowered.
5. Balance Possessions with Responsibility
Do not be in a rush to buy them things they ask for. I know that they will always have peers who will have a better phone, tablet, laptop, gaming console or whatever else they pester you for. Make them earn it by assigning them chores that they can finish and earn points for. Also let them be responsible for their possessions. If they damage or lose them, don’t buy them a replacement immediately. While we all understand that accidents can happen, we have to teach them that things are expensive and have to be taken care of. Don’t raise teens who expect to get things the moment they ask for it.
6. Practice and Preach Gratitude
When we are happy and satisfied with what life has given us, we automatically become more positive and optimistic. Gratitude is a trait that can help you get through the toughest of times. And it is becoming increasing difficult to practice gratitude as we turn more materialistic. Hence, as parents it is important to crib less and be more grateful. It starts with the parents. If we are appreciative of what we have including our relationships then automatically kids learn to be more positive. Also, when my kids feel despair because they don’t own something, I point out to them how lucky they are to have what they have. I also regularly ask them what things they are grateful for on a daily basis. This helps align their attitude to accepting and feeling grateful for what they have and to complain and whine less for what they don’t. It is important to impress upon them that they are very small cogs in the large wheels of the Universe. Kindness, compassion, helping others and community living will make them true citizens of the world.
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These powerful methods can help us raise humbler, more centered and responsible teens. Trust me, not only will you feel proud of the adults they turn into but the society at large will.
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Pics courtesy: By Rachaphak and Air Images on Shutterstock