I’ve been at this parenting thing for over 7 years now. So, I’ve had my share of good days and bad. One day in particular stands out in my memory: the first in-store tantrum over being told “no”. My kid wanted a toy, I said no, and she lost her ever-loving MIND. I was terribly embarrassed, but also? I was SO MAD. Mad, because I actively try to teach my kids that they won’t always get what they want. And here she was, acting like a fool in the Target toy aisle. I scooped her up, left my cart right there in the aisle, apologized to the nearest Target employee I could find, then carried her kicking and screaming out of the store. Didn’t try to reason with her, didn’t try to calm her down. I dealt with it at home, still seething over the entire exchange. If there’s one thing I will not tolerate, it’s spoiled children. From that day on, I’ve focused my parenting on how to avoid raising entitled kids.

Raising kids is not easy. I’d go as far as to say it’s the hardest thing we’ll ever do. There are so many things we have to worry about, both in our control and out. But, if we want to raise kids that become good, kindhearted adults, we have to do the work. And one of those jobs is to avoid raising entitled kids. Children are inherently selfish, I think all of us are in some ways. But they have to learn that the world does not revolve around them. And they have to learn, from an early age, that while we will ALWAYS love and protect and nurture them, our job as their parent is not to make them happy 24/7.

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There are plenty of ways to avoid raising entitled kids. By implementing some of these strategies into your day-to-day life, you can ensure that your kids grow up to be kind, well-rounded humans. Get used to saying one simple word: NO.

Why are we so hesitant to say no? A lot of it has to do with wanting to be the “good” guy. Somewhere along the way, we conflated saying “no” with being a bad guy. Because it upsets our kids! And then they get mad at us, and then we may feel bad. But you know what? Too bad. Giving into every whim gives your kids a sense of entitlement, and one day, it’ll come back to bite you in the ass (usually in the toy aisle at Target). Teaching our kids that they won’t always get their way establishes healthy boundaries, and helps kids learn that hearing the word “no” isn’t the end of the world. And if they throw a tantrum? Let them. Stick to your guns, and your no. Being a good parents means that yes, sometimes you’re the “bad” guy.

Raise your expectations.

My oldest broached the subject of getting an allowance recently. Now, I’m not opposed to allowances, per se. But I wanted to know why she believed she should get an allowance. “I could get it for cleaning my room, or putting my toys away!” Ummmmm, nope. Those are things I expect her to do, on a daily basis, in exchange for free room and board and all the food she could possibly eat. There are certain expectations I have for my kids, and basic manners and contributions to the household are two of them. I certainly appreciated her moxie, and we tabled the discussion about getting an allowance while we came up with other chores and things she could do that didn’t fall within her expected contributions. But this idea that kids should be rewarded for doing the bare minimum? Hard pass. Expect more from your kids, and help them learn how to be responsible, self-sufficient little humans.

Once they start getting an allowance, the Bank of Mom should close for business.

If you do give your kids an allowance, what do you teach them about spending and saving? Do you still buy them the things they want? If so, stop doing that. Once a kid is old enough and mature enough to complete tasks around the house and receive compensation in return, they need to understand that THEIR money should be used to buy THEIR things. Now, this is not to say that kids should use their allowance to purchase clothes, school supplies, food, or any of the things we provide to them as parents. But, if your child wants a certain pair of shoes that are more than what you’ve committed to spending? Or a new video game, and their birthday or Christmas isn’t in the immediate future? Well, that is the perfect time to teach them the value of saving their money to spend it on something they want.

Yes, our kids are the center of OUR universe. But they’re not the center of THE universe.

We’re all just little fish in this big huge pond. And we have to learn how to live as part of a community. No one is owed anything, and everyone is expected to do their part to make this pond a good place. Kids need to learn how to be grateful for what they have. If you want to avoid raising entitled kids, make sure they know that they are not entitled to anything! Teach them empathy and compassion, and instill in them an attitude of charity and giving. Random acts of kindness, regular charitable giving, and volunteerism are all great ways to show kids that they get out of the world what they put into it.

It’s so important to avoid raising entitled kids, if you want them to grow up to be kind and compassionate adults. As much as we want to always make our kids happy, it’s more important to strive to make sure our kids are good people.

(Image: iStock/STUDIOGRANDOUEST)