My Son Has a Sense of Entitlement

Updated on January 08, 2011
A.G. asks from Easley, SC
13 answers

My 2 girls are the most generous, thoughtful people I know. My 2 boys, on the other hand, are all about what they want and expect everyone to give it to them. One of them has an excuse........he is only 2 months old. lol The other one is turning 10 in a few days. He just gets down right angry at us if we don't buy him something or he doesn't get his way. We don't give him an "allowance" anymore (for any of the kids, for several years), because he never seemed to connect the weekly allowance to the "chores" he did. So, we created a commission chart. Each chore on the chart was worth so much money. If he did one, he got paid for it. If he did none, he did not get paid. He still has certainly "family chores" that he has to do everyday without getting paid.....make his bed, help with the dinner dishes, and help with the laundry. He still cannot seem to connect work with money. He still thinks buy him whatever he wants.

Part of the problem is that he gets whatever he wants by asking Grandma and Grandpa. They lavish tons of presents on the kids. We have talked to them and asked them to narrow the gift giving down to just a few gifts for birthday, Christmas and Easter, but they refuse saying it is their right to "spoil" their grandchildren. We even tried asking them to just get a couple toys and make the rest clothing or something they need. Or even to give the kids money instead. When our kids get money from people, they can keep up to twice their age in spending money and the rest gets put away into savings. Still they won't agree to that. This past Christmas, they bought him an iPod along with tons of other toys. Now, this is what he said when he got it. "I thought about trying to save my money to my one of these myself, but I knew someone would buy it for me, so what's the point." Ouch!

Both of us are giving people. We volunteer constantly. We always give our used, but not needed items away to people we know or GoodWill. We always put money in the offering plate at church. etc, etc. So, I don't understand where he is getting this and what to do to get the Grandparents to stop buying them so many things every time they see them! We are a 6 person family that is trying to sell our house and move into a 2 bedroom house/apartment. We don't want any more THINGS. We won't have the space.
However, I am more concerned about the attitude my son has about all of this. How can I teach him to respect and appreciate what he has and work hard for what he needs/wants??? I am at a loss.

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answers from Sioux City on

Just because Grandma and Grandpa give the gift, it doesn't mean he gets to keep it. I have taken all kinds of things that Grandparents have given my children and linked them to good behavior, chores, reading and writing time...... etc.

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answers from Seattle on

Your PARENTS need the Berenstein Bears book "The Gimmes"

You're trying to teach a lesson that will NEVER be learned as long as you keep being undermined. They may have a "right" to spoil, but your right to PARENT *trumps* that as needed.

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answers from Honolulu on

All I know is... at a certain age.... it is no longer 'cute' that they act like that with that attitude.

If I did that as a child... I would have been really reprimanded.

I've seen bigger kids with attitudes of entitlement... REALLY noxious.
Then they grow up into adults... like that. More noxious.
But... yes, sometimes it is just a phase... and the kid gets more real.

The thing is.... does he have empathy? Sense of caring? Thoughtfulness?

Maybe, each day... have him write down, instances in which he thought of someone else... in a kind way. And what he did to help his family, for whatever reason. It NOT being... for some kind of reward or money or object. It being... just because. Just because.... it felt good, inside.

He is 10. He is a Tween. I think, no matter what... he needs to learn humility....
via humility... he 'might' learn... appreciation and/or respect. Sans his ego and arrogance.

all the best,

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answers from Wichita on

we had a similar problem with my grandma and my MIL. Eventually, my grandma started getting her treats or books instead of toys, and the new rule with my MIL, is that unless it's a birthday or Christmas, any random toys she buys become toys to play with only at Grandma's. This really cut back on it, because she doesnt want it cluttering her house up either.

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answers from San Francisco on

Keep modeling your values, and continue to make him work for his allowance.

I've never given my kids allowance and have been pretty stingy on "stuff" (except for Christmas), but a certain amount of entitlement has crept in anyway. I think it's because it's so culturally pervasive right now, that regardless of what you do in the home, they learn entitlement from their friends and the current pop culture, especially tv.

All you can do is keep modeling what you want and continuing with your own rules. Let grandparents do what they want.

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answers from Portland on

One concrete way to teach gratitude is thank you notes. Your kids are hopefully writing them for those great Christmas presents Grandma and Grandpa are showering on them. Just this evening my little guy (3.5 years) and I were doing our 'notes'.. his job is to draw a picture for each person who has given him a gift to show that he thought of them. I do the text.

Another poster is correct: although I chafe at the idea of taking away gifts, I would take anything away from my son that I thought might not be good for his development. (Returned to Target several terrible toys a couple years ago that were gifts.) Perhaps, since you are moving, you can start now with your son, asking him to pick out 5 things to donate. Let him choose. Do this every couple weeks, and let him know that since there will be less space, it's his choice to either donate or give away to friends toys that he no longer wants to use.

I might suggest approaching your parents in a constructive way. Do you have any childhood stories that might be illuminating for them. some sort of touchstones from when you were a kid? "I know you love to give the kids all the things they want, and they really enjoy it. I know you consider it your right to 'spoil' the kids, but I'm concerned by the attitude I'm seeing with my son, because he's come to expect that we must buy him everything he wants. Could we find a happy medium? We are moving to a place where, if the children keep getting volumes of toys, they will have to once again decide which ones to part with. "

You could also make a list with your son in regard to which toys/items your son wants. Write them all down, and then prioritize them. Then, offer to him a 'matching' program, so that as he does the 'for pay' jobs, he may earn money to pay for the toys and when he has earned half the amount of the toy, you'll match the rest. Then send this list to the Grandparents and explain that your son has decided to earn these toys, and to please not ruin this for him by buying them as presents. In fact, if they could use the cost of toys for some more experiential gifts-- like taking him out to a movie or an event he's interested in, they'd get to spend time with him and he won't have to figure out where to store the gift.

For what it's worth, we have a family situation like this too (with the oldest grandchild, who was just given a Wii for a gift, and immediately told me "Now Mom's going to have to get internet!" as a sort of demand.). While I see my own parents as being well-intentioned, it does feed the fire of self-absorbed entitlement. And it isn't pretty!

Your son is also just a growing-up kid, and I know I was pretty selfish and self-absorbed at this age too. One book that might help you find some space to talk about this with your son is "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen...And How to Listen So Kids will Talk" by Faber and Mazlish. It sounds like he's at a great age to bring him on some problem-solving, and with the challenges of moving and downsizing your home, this is as good a time as any.


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answers from Indianapolis on

I have 11 grandchildren and I know what you are talking about....I listen to my children and they are concerned as you are. This Christmas I cut back drastically on gifts and it worked out fine.
You will have to manage your son's gifts, it seems to me, and by that I mean limiting what he has at any one time, and requiring him to get rid of things when he gets something new. Though it sounds like you should have started this years ago, you will just have to start where you are right now....If your parents ask questions, just keep repeating how you have asked them to cooperate but since they did not, you have had to take matters into your own hands in order to teach your son the important values that mean so much to you. In 3 years he will be a teen, so it is time to get busy! Any negative attitude on his part must be met with immediate consequences and you must make it clear to him that such behavior will NOT be tolerated. I wish you the best!

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answers from Chicago on

Are Gma and Gpa aware as to what they are feeding into when they purchase such lavish gifts? My son's gparents are HORRID about the amounts of money they spend on the kids but I am VERY vocal on what my 4yr old can/can not have. Really, Daddy and I get the big gifts and tell others to get supporting items.
Ex we wanted him to have a Wii so we bought it and told everyone to get Wii items/games/game stop cards.
I am not blaming it all on Gma/Gpa however they are feeding a flame that is typical in today's world especially in our "tweens" and teens.

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answers from Cleveland on

Allowance is not only used for chores. Actually paying for chores can create an entitlement expectation. I did something I get something. Getting an allowance is supposed to be used to teach a child how to manage money so when they are older they are prudent with it. SO you know I have and tried many methods and failed at many. Dave Ramsey has a great program for adults and kids. Also having kids help at local churches with the poor and needy helps them see others around us and there needs. It can start as small as making sandwiches for a charity that goes and feeds the homeless to more hands on like serving in a soup kitchen. It depends on the child's age. If you are in a church family find out what they have there or join a local church and let your kids get involved. It can really change anyone's heart.

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answers from Chicago on

I am right there with Dana K!

Sure he can have tons and tons of stuff from the grandparents, but they are the 'currency' he earns by fulfilling his family responsibilities. I'm sure you've spoken directly to the grandparents but they just don't care. Maybe they'll get the message when they see the unopened toys/items gathering dust on a shelf in the garage or still in the box in mom and dad's closet?

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answers from Chicago on

You said that you and hubby volunteer, you donate to goodwill, you put money in the offering plate BUT how about your son, you never mentioned him doing these things.

If your parents live further away OR you don't see them often then leave the 'stuff' there, just because they buy it for the kids doesn't mean you have to bring it home.

There are way to many posts on this site of woman complaining about their selfish husbands/boyfriends that want to buy buy buy instead of pay the bills (& I do know there are plenty of woman that do this too). Since you realize this problem in your son it's great that you are being proactive now so throw some tough love on him & your parents too. Take everything back to them in a big box, especially the ipod. Explain to your son what and why you are doing this & what you hope he gains from it.


answers from Lansing on

I don't have a 10 yr old son, but I have a 11yr old and 14yr old nephews. My nephews are about the most unappreciative, rude, spoiled kids I have ever met. Their parents also give and give and give to them, without any reprecussions. I've talked to my sister about it and stopped doing things for them :(

It sounds like you are doing everything right. And unfortunately, alot of it comes from school and friends. They see the way their friends act, and they think they can do it too.

My suggestion, for what its worth, take away his stuff. Don't let him have it. Don't give him money, don't buy him things (other then things he absolutely needs). Maybe when you volunteer, take him along with you...have him see the less fortunate and how they act (the ones I've met are the most appreciative people I've ever met). If that doesn't open his eyes, maybe get him into some therapy or have him talk to someone at your church, maybe find a mentor? I know hes only 10 and hes not that mature...but he has to learn someday, before he gets in bigger trouble with someone else other then you and your husband.



answers from Kokomo on

we had the same problem with our 10 year old when he was little with the grandparents. These are just some of our suggestions: Instead of buying toys and stuff they don't need all year have them take that money and buy 1 or 2 toys and then plan a vacation for your family and them with the rest of the money. My kids LOVE this and then the kids get a few presents but time with the grandparents also. This way they create memories with out creating the toy mess that they will only play with for a few weeks until parts get lost or they just sit there.Another solution is tell the grandparents and the kids that the kids will get a certain amount of toys and anything over that amount will go to a childrens hospital or shelter and be firm about it. Make sure they know you aren't kidding so when it comes time for presents and if the amount goes over then no one is surprised but again be firm and stick to your gunsYou won't be the parents of the year in their eyes, either one of them , but you will get hyour point across the first or even second time you do it.After awhile the grandparents won't want to see the toys being given away and slow down.

As for teaching the 10 year old more respect stop buying him things, toys etc. Tell him that he knows how to earn money and if he wants it that bad then he needs to save. Or say for any toy that if it is above a certain amount for example $30.00 that he save the 1st 30.00 and you will match anything else that he saves after that.That works well for us also. It is hard telling your child no I totally understand but they need to know that you are the parent, the one in charge and not him. If he wants to be in charge of the family then he can pay the bills, clean the house, take care of the other kids etc. but for now YOU are the parents and he is the child. Let him get mad maybe he will get mad enough to do something about

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