Does Enabling Children Lead to Entitled Adults? Maybe

As a coach of junior high and high school-aged girls, I often see kids at their worst. The entitlement mentality gets old fast and has me wanting to call them out for being jerks. There, I said it. Now before you get defensive, hear me out…

I’m not saying ALL kids are entitled, but a majority of those I’ve encountered over the last five years have been. One common denominator is that when something doesn’t go the way they want it to, they throw a fit. I understand girls are a little more dramatic. C’mon, be honest, you know you can turn the dramatics on at times. At least I know I can; there’s no shame in my game. And I think that’s part of the issue for this generation. While I OWN my dramatic ways and I don’t look for excuses, these kids are coddled for everything in their lives. I do not and never have had my parents fight my battles – and I certainly didn’t expect others to cater to what I wanted.

entitlement entitled kids

I’ve noticed (and experienced) the fallouts of this entitlement mentality. A player doesn’t get enough playtime? Their mom calls complaining. A player doesn’t like me? They again whine to their parents who then confront me or go above me to make their thoughts known. You know what my parents did when I would complain about a coach or a teacher? They would ask me what I did to make them act that way towards me. They wouldn’t call said coach or teacher and cuss them out for being hard on their child. They would be sure to get the full story, not just my {slightly dramatic and sometimes a smidge altered} version of it. With that type of upbringing, I didn’t feel like I was entitled to every little thing. I didn’t feel like things had to go my way or the highway. Instead, I learned that LIFE doesn’t always go the way we have planned or according to what we want. I learned to adapt to new people and situations. I learned that it’s NOT all about me; shocker, I know!  

And this doesn’t only pertain to athletes; this goes for all kids. My son is six years old and I’ve noticed this type of mentality in kids in his class. If Susie doesn’t get to color with the crayons she wants, she throws a temper tantrum and right away her mom is on the phone with the teacher. If Johnny doesn’t get picked to lead the class to the library then obviously he was being singled out on purpose. 

The only thing parents are doing by allowing their children to behave this way and for going to bat for them, is creating a self-righteous future adult who is hard to handle. They become workplace superiors who are close-minded, they become spouses who don’t know how to compromise, and parents who carry on these behaviors with their children. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am ALL for making sure our children are happy, healthy, and are enjoying their lives to the fullest, and you better believe that when it’s necessary the momma bear in me will come out (just like my mom did when it was warranted).

But, I’m also in the mindset of allowing them to make mistakes and to experience failure, of having them handle situations that might be a little tricky, and of making sure that they are growing up to be responsible, open-minded, generous, considerate, RESPECTFUL human beings. 

So, I’m sorry Jimmy’s mom, but loosen those reigns just a little bit and teach your child that it’s okay that they don’t get their way all the time, it’s okay that they aren’t chosen to be line leader, and it’s okay that they don’t get the most playtime on the court or on the field. Not only will it benefit your child; it might also benefit you by taking some weight off your shoulders. Just because you aren’t solving every single trial in your children’s lives doesn’t mean you aren’t a good parent or that you don’t love them; in fact, I think it’s just the opposite. You are showing just how much you love them and how great of a parent you are because you’re allowing them to experience all parts of life; they won’t be blindsided when their teacher gives them constructive criticism or when their boss tells them they made a mistake and it needs to be fixed. You’re showing them that they are strong individuals who are capable of conquering anything that comes their way and in my opinion, that’s the mindset we all need to have.