35 answers

How Can I Teach a Child/adult to Be Less Selfish and Lazy????

My daughter is a freshman in college. I can't get her to do anything for me or the family. Everything must revolve around her and her social life. She has always been lazy and selfish...I have to threaten something to get her to do anything for me. Now I don't really have any leverage...the other day she said she didn't live here anymore, so she didn't need to do any chores....WHAT!! we are paying for everything, her new car, cell phone.... I know if I nag or gripe that does no good, just makes her want to not come home, but I am at my wits end....I don't know what I've done wrong in raising her. She has a delightful personality, is popular and a good kid, never in trouble, but is driving me insane how unappriciative she is. I am scared to take away her cell phone for safety reasons. She does have a high IQ and school work has come easy, she has never had to work hard for anything.

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I hate to say it, but having been that age myself not that long ago, you just need to let it pass. I am 25 with my first child and I know I will face that eventually but I was the same way. It's not that we hate you or anything it's that we are just gaining a sense of independence and don't want anyone to tell us that we are wrong nor try to take it away from us. I now wish I could take back the way I acted but hind sight is 20/20. I know you are feeling a bit helpless but in my opinion the best thing my mother did for me was be there when I needed her and let me be when I was not being the nicest. She is my best friend now, next to my husband that is. Just try to give it some time and it will pass.

Plus I don't agree with the tough love theory. My husbands parents did that to him and all it did was drive him away. So whatever you do try not to do that. My husband is 30 and still holds some resentment for his parents and the way they handled things as he was growing up. I really don't think you want her to resent you. Plus at that age, they are a bit over dramatic, so if you cut them off she may feel like you hate her and it may push her away even more.

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I WOULD NOT take the cell/car away immediately. Yes, she needs to grow up and realize how you as parents have done so much for her but it is not going to happen overnight!! Most kids don't realize what parents did for them until they have kids of their own!!
I would give her a goal of finding a job and paying for the phone by a certain date-maybe the contract date on the phone. Then she knows the end is in site. Then set a new goal of paying x amount on the car or her books or something.
This will work out much smoother and she will not resent you!!!!

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Obviously the word NO was not a word commonly heard when she was growing up.

She's never had to work hard for anything and personally it doesn't sound as if she was ever expected to. She is not a delightful personality if everything has to revolve around her and she makes no attempt to participate in family issues or show some sort of thankfulness for what she has. That's called being spoiled and selfish - not delightful.

You should stop making yourself crazy and stop asking her to do anything for you as you know what the result / response will be. However, in turn stop doing for her. She's a freshman in college - how do you plan on punishing her for bad behavior or what exactly will you take away?

Does she contribute as all to her college expenses or only take? If she only takes tell her that she is responsible for paying for her cell phone, gas for the car and car insurance. She will figure out how to keep her cell phone on - no worries on that. She may even figure out how to pay for gas but if she can't pay you for insurance she can't drive her car.

Make her responsible for something NOW. How do you think she is going to cope with the real world in a few years when she is out on her own? Because she has no real work ethic instilled, she most likely will not be able to keep a job of any real value. She already has a self centered attitude - this is a not a highly sought after attribute.

Good luck with this kiddo. I have a 26yo cousin who is very similar and her parents are at their wits end trying to figure out how to support her.

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My father didn’t want me to go to college because I never had a clear goal. When I told him that it was really important to me he agreed but on “his terms”. Those terms included me earning money to pay for EVERYTHING above tuition, meals on campus and dormitory housing. I got my first job and quickly learned to pay for my haircuts, school books, pizza money, gas money (my car was an old car that was paid for and was nothing more than a point A to point B vehicle), etc. etc. I have to admit, I felt he was very unfair because not one of my other friends had to do the same. Looking back I am SO grateful for that experience. It taught me so much about myself, hard work and appreciation for the “extras” in life. I will have NO hesitation doing the same with my kids. I wish you the best. I know you love her a lot but sometimes the greatest love we can give is to “hold back”. God’s blessings!

God's Blessing,

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You say you don't have leverage? You're paying for her NEW car, cell phone, etc. Don't pay for them any more. That's leverage. She has no gratitude for what you do for her because you do too much for her. No one ever died from not having a cell phone or new car. Don't enable her. If she needs a cell phone for emergencies she can buy a prepaid one that doesn't require a plan and she pays for the minutes she uses. She doesn't need texting, etc. that's available on plans.
She doesn't live at your home any more? Then she can go elsewhere during summer and winter breaks from school. Does she have an apartment at college? Then she can for that year-round as well.
Yes, it's tough. That's why it's called tough love. You say she has a high IQ and has never had to work hard for anything. But she needs to learn how to be a good human being, That'll be better for her in the long run than a genius IQ. You need to do her the favor of having her to learn that lesson. It's the best gift you can give her. Because in the real world, she will need to know that.

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It seems that she has always gotten everything without having to work for it, so she has no reason to start now.

If you are concerned for safety, I am pretty sure you can get her a pre-paid cell phone with a certain amount of minutes on it that she could use only in emergencies.

If she wants better service, she can work for you and earn it.

Does she have a job? If not, make it necessary that she gets one. Most college kids work at some point or another. If she cannot find one, give her one. Let her earn her car payment (freshman with a new car eek!) her cell phone, her everything.....

There is no reason for her to be appreciative if things being given to her are a given, not a special event. We do not appreciate the ability to breathe until we get a cold or illness that makes breathing difficult because it is just what happens, we do not even think about it.

Give her something to think about.

Speaking from experience :) I have raised an ungrateful kid and am working on undoing years of getting what he wants too easily.

Good luck and be STRONG. If she wants to be treated like an independent adult, she needs to be one.

Sit down and have a long serious talk about it.

J

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I empathize with you. A year ago my then-17-year-old was headed in that same direction. I was tired of the power struggle and day-today stresses with her. I began to get informed about her temperament and how to guide her & communicate with her (my temperament is different from hers & we clash on issues like this), and I also used the guidance and coaching found in the books available on raising a moral/responsible child. I began to give her the responsibility of earning her own way (paying for her cell charges, car insurance, and some living expenses) through a part time job in high school and summer after high school, since she didn't want the phone plan we offered or conditions for having the car. She learned to cook in a class at school and began to feed herself breakfast, lunch, and occasional dinners---since she didn't want to eat at the times I prepared meals. Kids are like kites---you let the string out a bit more all the time until they sail in the clouds and break the string to go on alone.
Today she works part time while going to college, expresses her appreciation for what she has learned, what she has and for her family without being asked. She takes care of her own stuff/bills (we pay for medical/dental/college), when she's around she helps with housework to helping with dinner. She is choosing her job and future career (pediatric nursing--to make a difference with families). She values that I stopped doing/providing everything for her so she could see what she's made of--capable, strong, resourceful, secure.

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How about taking the keys to the car, cutting the cell off, no more cash, etc. She will quickly figure out that she needs to get her act together. People were safe before cell phones. If you didn't require her respect as she was growing up, she probably won't be very respectful now. She sees you as her servant, not her mother. Tell her to go ahead and move out and try to make it on her own. She is old enough. If she falls on her face don't pick her up. Let her figure it out. That is called natural and logical consequences. you have bailed her out long enough.

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Time for some tough love.
Cut her off.

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There is nothing YOU can do to change HER. You migt want to keep in the back of your head that one of our main jobs as parents is to raise good law abiding citizens....and then there is the religious factor too! My honest suggestion is to sit down with her with a ledger and have HER write out what her bills are. Allow her only a certain amount of what you guys will cover and let that be IT. I know that as moms we always want to give our kids EVERYTHING and in return the come to expect it as the norm and certainly don't appreciate things as they should. Hang in there!

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you said it yourself momma " she has never had to work hard for anything". shes spoiled. a good idea would be for her to get a part time job to pay for her cell phone or insurance on the car. at least some groceries. i do agree with her about the chores. she dose not live there and dosent make the mess so why should she clean it. if she were not spoiled she would pitch in and help with breakfast dishes or other things here and there. but i agree with her she shouldnt do your chores. i wouldnt do her laundary either though. let her be independent. teach her some money management skills. as far as saftey and the cell phone she could get a go phone. pay as you go. if she misses a payment or cannot afford it she could always borrow someone elses in an emergency...every one has cell phones these days. make sure she has a couple of quarters for a pay phone. and dosent go out alone. people managed to stay safe before the times of cell phones.

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How about taking away the car? Many college freshmen have no cars. (I sent my daughter to a school where freshmen were not allowed to have cars--made my life much simpler!)
Unless your daughter commutes to school daily, she can do without a car until her attitude improves.
Is there an adult--grandparent, pastor, former teacher--whose opinion she respects? You could ask that person to speak with her and try to get her to develop humility and appreciation.

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It sounds like your daughter had very few of her own responsibilities growing up. It is not too late to implement responsibilities now. Set down strict rules for your daughter to abide by. You own the purse strings. What is your daughter paying for? She should be paying for some of her expenses by now. Read the book Boundaries or Boundaries for Teens. Your daughter will never be responsibile for herself if she doesn't assume more responsibilities. Responsibility builds respect. She doesn't appreicate things you have done for her because she hasn't had to pay for them or earn them herself. When I was in college, I worked during the holidays, spring break, Christmas break. My parents gave me a set amount of money every month. Above that, I was on my own. Don't offer to co-sign or have your name a credit card or checking account. No matter how much your daughter resists, pouts, or argues, stick to your guns!

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Be careful! This is a sensitive time of establishing new boundaries. Rather then "taking it away" I think you guys should sit down and talk. Say, "I'm willing to pay for this (car) in exchange for this (mowing the lawn)." Write down exactly what your agreement is, including what happens if one of you breaks the pact. Make sure the chores you ask her to do are reasonable requests for a person who isn't living there. Also remember if she ISN'T still living there, she shouldn't have as much responsibility. Her focus should be doing well in college, and what time doesn't go into that should be spent soaking up the life lessons that come from the college experience. You are paying for more then curriculum by sending her to college so make sure to give her every opportunity to experience it, even if that means decreasing her responsibilities around the house. There is a very limited amount of time in life where these activities are possible and it would be a shame to take that away from her. Finally, I disagree with most of the mom's on here who have given you tips to help make your child more grateful. Our job as parents is not to raise children who are grateful. Children who are grateful come from parents who are loving, generous and supportive, and most children do not realize how grateful they are until they are adults with their own families. We have children to give to them, without expecting anything in return. A child who does that is simply a child, not a selfish child. That is the dynamic of a parent and child. A parent who does not realize this sets themselves up for failure by trying to force something that isn't natural. I'm not saying that a child who grows up doesn't learn to be giving and generous to their parents, but so often that comes later. For now, accept who she is, pick your battles and if you have specific behaviors you are looking for from her in exchange for monetary rewards, make them clearly explained. Good luck.

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I was taught when i was growing up that if i wanted something, i had to earn it. That doesn't mean my parents didn't provide for my wants and needs, but it wasn't all just handed over on a platter. If i wanted expensive designer clothes, my mom payed what she considered reasonable, and i payed the difference. It taught me how to bargain shop and to make the most of my money.

When they got me a car my Jr. year, i was on my 2nd job. I wasn't allowed to work too late or too often, but i worked enough to pay to go out, pay for gas, and pay for my own insurance. And it wasn't a new car, it was used, and i thought i was above it, lol...but i sure was glad to have it.

I'm glad now they did this. It taught me that nobody owes me anything. If i want my bills paid, i must take action and work for the money. I never had a credit card until i was 30, and i was fine. I didn't want one. I didn't get a chance to ruin my credit score in my 20's when i was young and foolish.

These were all life lessons that taught me responsibility with my finances and i am very grateful for them.

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Yank the car!!! There are plenty of kids in college who do not own a vehicle and must rely on bus transportation or their own two feet. Take it for a week, or however long it takes to get her attention. She may be stubborn at first and act as if it does not effect her, but she'll eventually get tired of relying on friends and/or having to walk or ride the bus. Most importantly, stay strong and resolved...don't get overly emotional because that's when you lose control of the situation. Also, you can cancel any extra or added features on her cell phone and make it to where she can only call certain people or area codes. That way, it is no longer a safety issue. Good luck!!!

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She is lazy and selfish b/c she has had everything handed to her. This is from your post.... "we are paying for everything, her new car, cell phone". Pull the plug on that new car and new cell phone.

This is also from your post..."she has never had to work hard for anything". That's part of the problem too. She now has a since of entitlement. Not sure how to undo that one. When you get something for free, you don't respect it b/c you haven't put any effort into it. Good luck.

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You don't say if she has a job or not - she should, especially if she has no trouble keeping up with her school work. If you don't want to force a job on her, then I suggest you remove the car. A car is the most "valuable" thing to a kid her age. Most colleges have a bus system or are small enough to walk or bike the campus. You could also cut the cell phone to calls only - turn off texting as "leverage". I have an older stepdaughter who is still unappreciative and lazy at 25 because her parents did not make her WORK for what she got. Best of luck!

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If it were me, I would stop paying for things. Have the cell put in her name and if it gets turned off it's her responsibility and when she comes home next time take away her car and drive her back to school. If she needs to get around campus she can ride a bike. Unfortunately in our country we have a "gimme" generation that needs to be taught about earning what you have and not expecting it to be given to them!! Good luck.

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Stop paying for everything and make her work for it. Then she might appreciate you.

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I hate to say it, but having been that age myself not that long ago, you just need to let it pass. I am 25 with my first child and I know I will face that eventually but I was the same way. It's not that we hate you or anything it's that we are just gaining a sense of independence and don't want anyone to tell us that we are wrong nor try to take it away from us. I now wish I could take back the way I acted but hind sight is 20/20. I know you are feeling a bit helpless but in my opinion the best thing my mother did for me was be there when I needed her and let me be when I was not being the nicest. She is my best friend now, next to my husband that is. Just try to give it some time and it will pass.

Plus I don't agree with the tough love theory. My husbands parents did that to him and all it did was drive him away. So whatever you do try not to do that. My husband is 30 and still holds some resentment for his parents and the way they handled things as he was growing up. I really don't think you want her to resent you. Plus at that age, they are a bit over dramatic, so if you cut them off she may feel like you hate her and it may push her away even more.

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Stop enabling her. If she complains about the lack of cell phone, say I don't feel motivated to pay for your cell phone calls right now.

Let her figure out your lack of motivation is tied to her lack of motivation to help out or spend time as a family.

If she does come home to spend the night, do laundry etc., charge her for board or laundry detergent. If she complains tell her everyone else works for their keep, why should she be any different.

I didn't have car/cell phone, etc., growing up, and had to pay my way through school. It made me a lot more appreciative of what I did get or what I earned for myself.

Check out some books on tough love, or this could carry on for another decade!

"She has never had to work hard for anything." Wow, that says a lot. There are two problems with giving children everything without condition: 1. they stop appreciating it (which you are experiencing), and 2. they never develop a sense of independence, and are therefore not prepared for adulthood. Do you and your husband plan on supporting her for the rest of her life? This is what will happen if you continue on the path you are on. I don't know how likely you are to change, especially after so many years, but if you want your daughter to function like a responsible, independent adult, you must change! If she is unappreciative and will not help out around the house, yank all of those "priveledges", like the car, the phone, etc. You don't have to nag, just simply tell her that if she cannot do as you ask, she will lose the priveledges. Then when she continues her behavior, which she is certain to do, you have to follow through. You can do it! Your daughter's future depends on it! I am working on these concepts (hard work = success, no hard work = no reward, etc.) with my four year old. If a four year old can get it, then a 18-19 year old can as well. Good luck!

It sounds like this child needs to become an adult and that you need to cut the purse strings. If she lives at home give her food and shelter and let her provide for the rest of her expenses, but remind her if she lives there the whole family works for the good of the family. Since she says she doesn't need to live there anymore, take her at her word and ask her to go ahead and find her own place. Help her pack. Do not give her money. This is not to punish but to help her become independent. (and who knows maybe she'll learn gratitude) Encourage her. Tell her she's going to do great on her own. She'll have more time for her studies without talking on her cell or driving around (which she won't be able to afford), and she'll need to do well in her studies because she's going to be providing for herself. You get a lot less lazy when you have to work to eat. Humility helps to make one less self centered.

Does your daughter have a high IQ. One of my sons is in that group and at one time he was in the "gifted and talented" group at school and they passed out information on people like this and it fit him to a T. One of the problems you can have is they do not want to be told what to do. In fact I came upon this last night-as I was making dinner he was sitting on couch watching tv so I "told" him to sweep floor. He just ignored me and of course I was getting upset with him the longer he sat there. He then said it would be nice if you would ask me to do it. That stopped me right there and so I asked him he got up swept floor and put the dishes away. I know I shouldn't have to ask him, he lives in our house and we all have to take care of it-But it made me relise I need to ask for help and maybe it will get done without the arguing!

As a parent, it’s important that you teach your child the value of hard work and earning things. He needs to really see that integral connection between making an effort and achieving success. Conversely, when things are handed to your child, the message he’s getting is, “You don’t need to do anything—everything will be given to you in life just because you’re you.”

http://www.empoweringparents.com/I-Want-It-Now-How-to-Cha...

Maybe it's time she work hard for something.

We survived without cell phone when we were young.

I say take away the car and the phone. Give her a list of chores to do to "pay" for the car and the phone. She's not going to not come home for very long.

You have done nothing wrong other than allow her to get to the point of threats before she will do something. Take it away and make her earn it back.

I agree with Emily P. and I must admit that I went through the same thing when I was your daughter's age. I married in my senior year of college and that's when the laziness ended. Housework, laundry, meals, etc didn't get done unless I did it. I also speak to you as a M. of three adult children, one of which went through this. He had grown up doing chores but his dorm room was seriously a health hazard! Now he is married and working his way through grad school, doing much of the household chores because his wife works more hours than him right now. Your daughter will soon be out on her own and you will see that you've not done anything wrong in raising her.

First I just want to say that you sound like a wonderful mom and it's obvious you care so much for your daughter. However, I do think that you are enabling her as another mother had mentioned. I was this way when I was younger as well. And looking back I wish that my parents would have made me work for this stuff as well. Once I was out on my own paying for my own school and bills, only then was I able to appreciate what my parents had provided. I don't think that you have to necessarily take everything away. But give her some of the responsibility, like the phone and the car, or the phone and part of the car payment. Or the phone and car insurance...just something. So she can start learning to be self reliant. She will appreciate this later. Believe me. And she will feel better about herself, knowing that she is capable of providing these things for herself. Best of luck with this situation!

Does she have a job? I know school is super important but a part time job for spending money is not a bad idea. My mom never paid for my cell or anything. I always worked while in school. I will say I always had this thing about not being a burden to my mom and worked too much at times so I think it is good for a student to not have to work so much school work suffers but no work and everything coming easy is obviously not challenging her. I think it is time to have a heart to heart with her and just give her a date that as of (whatever date) she will become responsible for her cell, insurance, spending money etc. You can even do it in a positive way if you like. Like tell her you recognize that she is growing up and is now able to take on more responsibility and now is the time. Believe me a young person, will keep their cell phone, don't worry there! I don't think any of us, young or older, can remember what it was like not to have constant access to everyone!;) But if she doesn't keep up with it, I think you have to let it go. She sounds like a good girl who is smart and needs to be challenged and have the chance to show she can do it. Of course at first she'll buck up, but it will give her something to complain about to her friends and an obstacle to overcome which inevitably builds character. This is the kind of stuff kids love to tell stories about as they get older, how their mean old parents gave them some crazy rules and they overcame! They tell the stories with such pride in themselves but also interestingly enough they show so much pride in their parents as well. So that is my vote, hope it helps!!

Lots of good suggestions. Yes, it's family meeting time. Set some rules and put the expectations on the table.

Need to now. Or things can end up like our neighbors.
All last summer, our neighbors were taking care of ill parents out of town. The 19 year old and the 24 year old were at home most of the time...working part time jobs. But my kids (ages 15 and 16) were hired to do the lawn work, get the mail, and care for the pets b/c ---get this---the 19 and 24 year olds "might not take care of it."
It's a sad day when a 15 year old boy down the street is walking 2 dogs every day for a month b/c the young adults in that home might not remember to do it.

Stop enabling her!! that is the worst thing i think a parent can do to their child. stop making excuses and finding ways to feel bad. she's being egotistic - so she can have herself for company now. it's better for her to come around and figure that out on her own.

you want a productive member of society - stop enabling.

I would stop paying for her things. She thinks you're too scared for her safety and won't do it - so why should she change? if she wants the cell phone she can pay for it. When she can help others she will get the help in return.

You pretty much said it in your last sentance and perhaps she was given too much without anything required from her growing up which makes her unappriciative. It is almost impossible to teach/show a human who has learned behaviour patterns and she sees no validity in what you say. Stop beating yourself up and forget she is your child for awhile and begin to treat her like any other adult.

It won't be easy, but worth it in the long run. Praying for your resolve.

How far is she from finishing collage. If within the year, let her know that she will be on her own and will need to work to pay for the car, and place to live along with any insurance and repairs on the car. That may wake her up. The jobs are not easy to come by...

Start sending her a bill every month. Seriously--she needs to get a strong dose of reality before LIFE hits her between the eyes.

If she has the attitude that she doesn't need to contribute because she doesn't live under your roof, then treat her like she wants to be treated--as a totally emancipated adult. She will have to be responsible for herself. Now, obviously, if she's going to school full-time, she won't have any way to pay you anything, but it might get your point across. Another idea--suggest that she get a job and EARN her way. Lots of young people do that, and so could she.

I WOULD NOT take the cell/car away immediately. Yes, she needs to grow up and realize how you as parents have done so much for her but it is not going to happen overnight!! Most kids don't realize what parents did for them until they have kids of their own!!
I would give her a goal of finding a job and paying for the phone by a certain date-maybe the contract date on the phone. Then she knows the end is in site. Then set a new goal of paying x amount on the car or her books or something.
This will work out much smoother and she will not resent you!!!!

Take the car & phone away... Tell her that those things aren't free & until she learns to help out & show you some respect, she can use a pay phone & walk to class. She's come to "expect" these things & until you make her appreciate it, she never will. I know adults who are still like this. But it's not too late! You still have leverage. The car & phone. Sit her down, tell her what you expect from her for the privelages of driving a car & using a phone you pay for & the respect, that as her parent (the woman who raised her & continues to take care of her) expect & deserve. It's a privelage to have a loving family & home. There are always things that as part of a family, we may not want to do, but we do it because it's our family. I truly wish you all the best. I Be consistent with this & don't give up. You've earned her respect, now demand it. My mom did this with me & I don't resent her, I appreciate her for teaching me to appreciate everything I have!

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