Commercials, YouTube videos and toy catalogs are filled with things that kids think they “need.” In today’s consumerism culture, parents can struggle with how to raise kinder, less entitled kids.
“There are a lot of parents now who just give their child whatever they want. The kids aren’t learning any sense of responsibility,” says South Lyon parenting coach Barbara Bushey.
“They aren’t learning that everything isn’t given to you in this world – you have to earn what you get.”
Here, Bushey offers five pieces of advice on how to raise kinder, less entitled kids – and prevent those privileged attitudes.
Tell them ‘no’
“As parents, we are trying to prepare our children to be adults. A lot of parents want to be their child’s friend,” Bushey says. Some parents have trouble telling their child ‘no,’ even when they need to.
“Your job when they are little is not to be their friend. Your job is to teach them to be a responsible member of society.”
Parents need to say “no” – even if it leads to temper tantrums or other outbursts, Bushey says. These are lessons kids need to learn – just because they want something doesn’t mean they will get it.
“I know it’s hard because you want them to love you and don’t want them to be mad at you,” Bushey says. “You’re not going to always be their best friend when they are young. You get to do that when they are older.”
Don’t feel guilty
Bushey says she has encountered parents who felt guilty they weren’t giving into the child’s wishes.
“Parent have to think, ‘What are the characteristics that I want my child to have when he or she is a grown adult?'” Bushey says. “If you just give in to him or her, is that going to help them have those characteristics that you want him or her to have when they are grown?”
Parents need to assure their children they will provide for their needs, but they can’t have everything they want. She also suggests parents explain to their children that they aren’t being punished, they are just trying to teach them a sense of responsibility.
Teach them about money
Bushey recommends teaching children about money, and start those lessons early on in life.
“They have to learn that money only goes so far and we only have so much of it. It’s not always easy for them to understand,” Bushey says. “Children need to learn at a very young age that not everything is affordable. Stress that it’s not that we are poor, but we are going to pick and choose what we are going to buy.”
Without an understanding of money and choosing where to spend and where to save, children won’t have that skill when they become adults.
Children also need to learn to how to smartly spend money, Bushey says.
“We let our children spend some of their money on things they wanted. The lesson learned is that when they get junk and they don’t play with it, they wasted money,” Bushey says.
Give them responsibility
It is important for children to earn the things they get. She recommends chores for all kids.
“They really need to earn their allowance, if they are getting one,” Bushey says. Parents should make sure children know they are also helping out the family through their chores.
“Later on, this will teach them how to be a contributing member of society. They need to know that you don’t get something for nothing.”
Bushey says children should also receive less allowance if they fail to do their chores, just like at a job.
Make sure other family members are aware of your wishes as well. She says grandparents, aunts and uncles can undermine the work parents do by buying presents for the children all the time.
“As a grandma, I want to give my grandchildren gifts all the time too, but I realize that isn’t going to help my daughter,” Bushey says. “Children also need to understand that grandma doesn’t love them any less when she doesn’t give them a gift.”
Bushey says these tips don’t mean that parents can’t ever get their children gifts or reward them. However, these are a few ways to prevent those occasions from being expected.
“Parenting is the toughest job you are going to have in your whole entire life,” Bushey says. “Sometimes being tough on your kids is rougher on you, but that’s your job.”
This post was originally published in 2017 and is updated regularly.