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It's All About the Kids:a column by Dr. Janet McPeek

Challenging a kid's sense of entitlement

April 17, 2013 - It is a common sight these days to see teens and pre-teens using cell phones and electronic tablets.

In fact, many of them are better at operating these devices than adults. But does that mean every child is entitled to have an iPhone or an iPad? Of course not.

We are living in a world where many children have developed a false sense of entitlement. We constantly hear: "I want that." Or "If I want it, I should have it." Whether it's getting the latest electronic gadget or making the sports team or buying fashionable UGG boots, children tend to have an "I want it now" attitude. Kids feel they are entitled to receive.

As parents, it is important not to always give in to the pressure when your child says everyone else has a particular item and he or she won't be cool if they don't get one too. It is your job to challenge your child's false sense of entitlement. You should never feel obligated to buy children everything they want, because it may not be something they need or your family may not be able to afford it.

This false sense of entitlement also extends to competitive activities. Children who aren't picked to play on a sports team or who don't win a talent contest may respond: "It couldn't be me." Or they allege favoritism and unfairness. Kids need to learn to accept that sometimes they are not going to be the best in an activity, game or sport.

As parents, you may wonder why your child is thinking he or she is entitled to everything. Is it something you've done? Or are they under a lot of peer pressure at school? The pressure to be the best is certainly everywhere, as seen in the plethora of TV reality competition shows such as American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, and Survivor.

Developmentally, it takes a long time for humans to reach a point of maturity where we recognize that "things" don't matter and it is not all about having the latest innovation or always being first. Help your kids realize we are not entitled to anything. Life is really about figuring out what is important enough to work for and spend money on.

Parents can lead the way by answering these questions for themselves and then raising their children within that same value system.

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