In today’s world, we see a lot of kids who think the world revolves around them. They expect to be pampered, indulged, and have their happiness be our most pressing priority. They want the best of what life has to offer without putting in the hard work, and expect parents to clear the obstacles in their path. This “me, me, me” attitude is exhausting, irritating, and honestly — it costs our kids in the long run. Entitled kids can eventually grow into self-centered adults, needy spouses, and high-maintenance employees. Weary parents everywhere want to know how they can turn the tide of entitlement and get their kids on track in a positive way.
I’m a so-called “parenting expert” (is anyone really an “expert” in parenting?) but my home is not immune to the “me, me, me” epidemic. Like most parents, I’ve struggled to keep the entitlement bug at bay. In raising my own kids and working with thousands of parents around the world, here’s what I know doesn’t work — caving in to the 4-year-old’s tantrum and buying the candy in the grocery store line. Buckling under the pressure to buy your tween the latest and greatest smartphone or trendy top. Doing your sixth-grader’s science project so they can get a perfect grade and a bright blue ribbon.
As much as you love your kids and as much as their badgering may try to convince you otherwise, your children are not entitled to those things — they really aren’t. What they are entitled to, however, is your unconditional love and a daily dose of your undivided time and attention. What’s more, believe it or not, it’s what they need and crave more than any gizmo, gadget, or treat you could offer.
Let me share one of the most important tools from the “Un-Entitler Toolbox” featured in my new book, The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic. The tool is called Mind, Body and Soul Time and it is amazingly simple, yet effective for toddlers through teens. Mind, Body and Soul Time delivers the attention and sense of belonging kids need while simultaneously helping to prevent whining, fit-throwing, sibling fighting, and the rest. How’s that for a super-tool?
Here’s how it works: Set aside 10-15 minutes, once or twice a day to spend with your child, one-on-one with NO distractions. No cell phones, no email, no TV blaring in the background — not even a mental to-do list running through your head. During this time, be completely present and in the moment — doing whatever it is he or she loves to do. From reading picture books or chapter books to playing with cars, painting toes, coloring, playing a game, or listening to their favorite music — make it all about them. What that gives them? The essentials to feel loved, safe, secure, self-assured, and valued. What it gives you? Much of the same and so much more.
“But Amy, who has the time?” Trust me, I’ve been there and thought that. The good news is the 10-15 minutes you spend doing Mind, Body and Soul Time will actually save you hours of aggravation and power struggles. As you invest in filling their attention baskets and deepening the emotional connections, your kids will become more cooperative and will be less likely to display those entitled behaviors we’re trying to avoid.
Mind, Body and Soul Time with your kids is just as vital to their well-being as teaching them to eat well and exercise. Those things are good for their growing bodies. Spending one-on-one time with them exploring their likes, dislikes, needs, joys, fears, and interests is the foundational ingredient for happy, healthy, growing minds and souls. Try it. Your life — and theirs — will be forever changed for the better when you do.