It is not unusual for well-meaning adults to want to protect children from hurts, pains, struggles, and frustration. Most adults want to ensure that their children are happy and prosperous. At times this desire can result in adults overdoing things for their children, protecting them, and wanting to meet all their wants and needs. Sometimes, they may accidentally overprotect them from experiences the child needs to move through developmental stages and mature. Delays in developmental maturity can impair the child’s readiness for the real world, ultimately hindering the child’s capacity for long-term happiness and learning necessary wisdom, skills, and independence. Children need love, support, information, encouragement, guidance, and experiences–including struggle, and accountability to mature appropriately.
Entitlement is defined as the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment. Overprotection and overindulgence can create entitlement in a child. Examples may include:
- Not having reasonable expectations for a child’s behavior.
- No consequences for poor behavior.
- Saving a child from the consequences of their poor decisions.
- Feeling sorry for their child
- Rescuing children when they feel frustrated or sad.
- Giving the child everything they want and need without expectations of working or giving back.
Some of you may be wondering why is this such an issue? Why can’t children be given everything they want? What is the harm?
As educators, we see firsthand the harm of entitlement, overprotection, and overindulgence. Entitled children often feel insecure about themselves, lack empathy for others, lack awareness about their strengths and weaknesses, and have an underdeveloped conscience or moral compass, which can intensify underlying mental health concerns. Entitlement can increase a child’s hostility towards those who take care of them, and they struggle with frustration tolerance. These characteristics can lead to significant behavioral problems and the ability to take thoughtful risks to move their life forward.
To learn more, watch our podcast: How Well-Meaning Adults Hinder a Child’s Mental Health, go to https://healingchildren.teachable.com/courses and watch our online training on “Healing Discipline Finding Joy in Working with Challenging Students” or “Why are we Seeing So Much Misbehavior in the Classroom? Underlying Causes of Severe Behavior and Emotional Problems.“. You can also find more information in our book “Healing Discipline: Bringing Hope to Shattered Lives, A Guide for Educators.”