I Breathe Therefore I Deserve – Ending the Entitlementitis Epidemic
I breathe therefore I deserve – seems to be the mantra of our kids these days. What happened to appreciation, gratitude, or even a simple thank you? Well, I can tell you from experience that unappreciative kids are not very happy children. It is miserable to live always wanting more and not enjoying what you have. When the cup is always half empty, day to day existence is not very pleasant. When your feelings of happiness is always dependent upon someone else’s actions and behaviors it can be very discouraging.
So how do we help our kids? There are specific tools and strategies, which when implemented and practiced regularly can stop the feelings of Entitlementitis in its tracks. First I’d like to share with you two basic principles parents need to keep in mind when parenting. One, every child wants to succeed and two, every child wants to please you, the parent. Now I know on some days it doesn’t feel this way but it is the truth. As their parent you are the most important person in their world. So our job is to make it easy for them to give us what we want, so they get what they need.
The first tool I want to share with you is S.M.A.R.T. goal setting. Teach your children the how and why of goal setting. Explain to them the importance of setting goals and writing them out each day. When you get in the habit of handwriting your goals each morning it forces you to really target on what is important to you. S.M.A.R.T. goals are specific, measurable, action orientated, relevant and realistic, and lastly time specific. When this formula is followed the end result is the successful accomplishment of what you desire. Remember, success breeds success and is a very empowering tool. When a child starts to make things happen their world, the process of taking responsibility and ownership for their behavior follows naturally.
The second tool is really a recipe. That’s right, a recipe for happiness, because when you and your child have your needs met – you are happy. We are all aware of the physical needs we have shelter, food, and water but did you realize we also have physiological needs too? Well we do and these need to be met daily.
The first is love, not romantic love, although that is nice, the need for love is fulfilled when we feel a sense of belonging. Often this need is fulfilled through our family. We need people that love us, care for us, and contribute to our sense of belonging. This type of love comes from involvement and a commitment of time and energy. We need to know this kind of love every day.
Power is another of the four needs, this is not power over someone, and that can be difficult for some to comprehend, but it is a sense of competence. Power is knowing that there are things that you do well. You need to feel good about what you do and to have those skills acknowledged every day.
The third need is fun. We know that kids are really good at this, but family members of all ages need to meet this need. Fun involves pleasure, enjoyment, learning, and laughter. Things that refresh and renew our energies are fun. Having taught these concepts at conferences for many years, I have seen that this area is difficult for adults. However, our children need to see us having fun as well. If “being grown up” isn’t fun, why will they want to do it? Look for ways to have fun and be seen having fun so that this need is met for all of the family.
And finally, freedom – Freedom is a big issue for kids. They need to know that they have the ability to choose how they meet their fun, love, and power needs for the day and we all need to remember that we can do anything we need to meet our needs provided it doesn’t prevent another from meeting theirs. One thing I encourage you and your children to do is to run through a mental checklist at the end of each day. Did my needs get met? If not – why not? What can I do differently tomorrow? Again, we are empowering our children to take ownership of their circumstances.
Positive self talk is another tool in the fight against Entitlementitis. One effective method of keeping a handle on our self talk is to help it along with daily affirmations. When we think positive thoughts we are far better equipped on so many levels to deal with anything ‘life’ throws our way. Equip your kids with this great ‘armor of affirmation’ by joining our daily affirmation list. Email me and I will add you to the list so you can receive your positive self talk boost.
Lastly, I encourage you and all the members of your family to start a gratitude journal. This simple exercise can have the largest and most lasting effect on character development. The process is simple, at the end of each day reflect and record five things you are grateful for. The magic that follows a grateful heart is truly your biggest ally in the fight to end the Entitlementitis Epidemic.