5 Simple Ways to Raise an Entitlement-Free Child


It's easy to see how a child could act entitled in today's culture. Advertisers spend $17 billion annually courting children, and many parents feel compelled to provide their kids with "ideal" childhoods. They try to create a world in which children are constantly entertained, rescued from unpleasant situations, and handed whatever they want in order to assure their continual happiness.

But children who grow up getting their every desire miss out on the joy of giving, the sense of accomplishment that comes with effort, and the resilience that develops when we are forced to bounce back from disappointments.

This roundup of my favorite tips will not only challenge entitlement and nurture compassion, but ultimately also will make our children happier and more successful -- and in turn make the world a better place.

-Jenny Friedman, Executive Director


Making a Difference...

In a culture where messages of entitlement abound, follow these simple practices to help your child manage those pressures:

Require chores. Age-appropriate chores, starting when your child is 3 or 4, can teach responsibility and competence, and the value of hard work. (It's also a child's first introduction to contributing to the common good.) Research indicates that doing household chores can have a surprisingly positive impact long term, leading to more academic and career success, better relationships and greater self-sufficiency. 

Make kindness and "giving back" habitual. We have lots of simple ideas for making thoughtfulness an integral part of your family's everyday routine. Also consider spending one day a month volunteering or doing an engaging service project as a family. These activities remind children there is delight in giving as well as receiving.

Teach financial responsibility. This includes delaying gratification, budgeting, and saving for the future. It also means dedicating part of their money to others. Consider creating a family giving jar or use the "share-save-spend" approach to their allowance. Finally, remember that "less is more" when it comes to toys. Kids better appreciate what they have when they're not inundated with playthings.

Practice gratitude. Like any skill, gratitude needs to be taught -- and practiced. Have family members spend a few minutes each day (at the dinner table or at bedtime) naming what they're grateful for. Beyond material goods, try to focus on the people who have contributed to your well-being. To avoid repeating the same people or items day after day, encourage your children to scan the world for what they find most wonderful. In addition, let your kids hear you thank restaurant servers, store clerks and others you interact with each day. 

Set loving limits. Let your children know when boundaries have been crossed. Be serious, but not harsh. Remind them of the impact of their actions, and that you care both about their feelings and the feelings of others


Talk About It...

  • Be clear and explicit about your values, emphasizing that kindness, integrity, gratitude and compassion matter more to you than achievement or material success.

  • Discuss the importance of not shifting blame, but taking responsibility and asking forgiveness when mistakes are made. Model this behavior by readily admitting to your own errors and apologizing, when appropriate.

  • Speak with respect about family members and others. And treat your children with the same consideration that you treat others.
  • Be careful with your praise. Remember to reward effort (rather than innate ability), be sincere and specific in your praise, and let your children know you expectthem to act with compassion and integrity.

Learn About It...

Our curated lists of picture books and chapter books on gratitude are perfect for starting conversations about entitlement, appreciation and compassion


"What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude."

-Tony Schwartz, American author