Teen Entitlement

Parents don’t do their children any favors when they reward an entitlement mentality in the home. When parents provide their children with unwarranted reinforcement, they stagnate their children’s coping capacity for handling the future realities of what it takes to be a successful young adult. Recent studies show that this new “entitled generation” display high rates of mental health problems, addiction, loneliness, isolation and failure in their young marriages.

Hyper-vigilant parents who attempt to solve every problem for their child and can’t fathom the thought of their child being uncomfortable are doing them no favors. Too many of these parents self-deceive and believe they are engaged in good parenting. Children of hyper-vigilant parents who have become accustomed to having the things they desire, often times, instantaneously, become entitled. Over time, they develop a low frustration tolerance, a lack of patience, and a complete inability to deal with discomfort of any type on any level.

Too many parents today are going to great lengths to take the struggles out of life for their children. Isn’t this what good, caring parents do? Unfortunately, parental hyper-vigilance tends to make children more fragile, rather than more equipped, which explains why many of today’s youth are increasingly incapable of managing demands of life.

Some experts have labeled the youth of today as the “entitled generation”. Many teens today have become accustomed to getting what they want immediately. Delaying gratification is the ability to resist the temptation for an immediate reward and wait for a later reward. Many teens today have a desire for nice things, but they don’t want to work hard for the money to obtain nice things. Too many struggle with entitlement believing that they “deserve it” or “they are owed it”.

STAR Guides Wilderness - Teen Entitlement

“Compared to previous generations, recent high-school graduates are more likely to want lots of money and nice things but less likely to say they’re willing to work hard to earn them,” according to the author of a recent study on the topic of entitlement among the rising generation. “That type of ‘fantasy gap’ is consistent with other studies showing a generational increase in narcissism and entitlement.”

A prime example of this is the number of elementary aged and middle school youth who have their own smart phones, but do absolutely nothing to earn the privilege of the device. Those few kids who don’t have a smart phone, feel deprived and many attempt to convince their parents of this. The pressures in middle school only get worse in high school as kids no longer simply ask for a cell phone, but for a car, a personal laptop and spending cash at will. Teen entitlement and inability to delay gratification are major problems in today’s culture.

STAR Guides is the ideal intervention for assisting parents to eliminate the entitlement mentality from their teens and provide teens with a first-hand experience in delaying gratification. Upon arriving at the STAR Guides offices, the ceremonial “trade” happens where the teen hands over his/her smart phone and other hand held digital devices, and its place is given a stainless steel cooking pot which will be used for cooking meals on a camp fire while experiencing life unplugged from technology and learning to survive in the high desert of Utah. This time in the wilderness allows the teen to explore who he/she outside of their technology, friends and other material items for which they had previously developed a sense of entitlement. Without these dependencies to hide behind, teens have to face who they really are, which sometimes can be an uncomfortable realization.

A mistaken belief many parents possess is assuming that children can’t handle difficult situations. Too often parents assume that if kids start getting into difficulty they need to rush in and do it for them, rather than let them flounder a bit and learn from it. STAR Guides allows teens to navigate a difficult situation on their own.

There is a lesson in this for all parents. Those who allow their kids to find a way to deal with life’s day-to-day stresses by themselves are helping them develop resilience and coping strategies. The goal of parenting is to raise an independent human being, capable of managing the demands of life. At some point in their childhood, most kids will be forced to confront their own mediocrity.

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