Entitled kids and the toll on parenting

Wednesday, November 11th, 2020 00:00 |
Josphat Muthami, his wife Agnes Muthami and their three children Mitchelle Mutheu, Joy Maitha and Caleb Muthami. Photo/PD/KWACH WAKHISI

We believe that nothing good or worthwhile comes easy, so we work hard to earn what we want.

Unfortunately, children of today’s generation seem to be missing that message.

They are growing up feeling and acting as if they are entitled to everything they desire and demand for the latest smartphones, video games and flashy toys, designer clothes and much more.

Parents who try hard to give their children a good and happy life easily fall into the entitlement parenting trap. 

Anne Mbotela, a mother of three; Essie Zawadi (21), Lennie Baraka (19) and Stevvie Imani (15), says modernity and technology  train parents to spoil their children.

“It is developed and fast paced, unlike how we, for instance grew up with a black and white TV and having boundaries, even on how long we could watch that television,” says Mbotela.

“It seems we are quickly losing our culture of training self-restraint because we are hardly ever at home, trying to keep up with society’s economic demands.

As parents, we often do not always teach by our lifestyles. If we believe ourselves to be deserving of privileges and special treatment at the work place or elsewhere, should we expect our children to be any different?

We raise children literally, after our kind and character,” she explains.

Mbotela doesn’t believe parents should give their children everything they ask for.

However, she says every good parent tries the best they can to provide children’s basic requirements, and sometimes even what they want, within reason. 

Tricks that worked

She offers: “The term ‘spoilt brat’ describes those children who can get away with throwing a tantrum to get whatever they want.

For fear of embarrassment, say in a supermarket, the parent will succumb to pressure to save their image.

Personally, I don’t remember my children throwing a single tantrum outdoors demanding for stuff because we trained our children to respect us as parents and to disagree, agreeably.

As a mum, I also learnt to send the “eye” signal when a child felt the need to act up as a subtle early warning.

My husband and I did not hesitate to gently call a child’s name if we were outdoors or visiting.

Some parents like to delay discipline, but this wasn’t our parenting style. Of course, we’ve got to be sensitive as parents on how we correct children so as not to damage their self-esteem or make them a public spectacle.”

Mbotela says there is a need for parents to read on how to raise their children. “I mean; we study everything else to become good at it.

Why not do parenting classes online? My husband and I attended parenting classes with the renowned parenting coach Dr Stanley and Patience Mukolwe, which was a profitable call in our parenting journey.”

According to her, preventing a sense of entitlement begins with creating an environment where children can express their joys and sometimes their frustrations.

Teaching family values

She opines: “Parenting should not so much be about the do’s and don’ts, but rather teaching children to understand why we as a family do what we do or why we stand for certain values.

Parenting is a bit like being a boss. While the boss may think that he or she is always right, truth be told, many times they need to be on the receiving end to better understand or tolerate their supervisee.”  

Agnes Muthami, a mother of three, says technological advancements have proven that there is no barrier that can currently exist between the African ways and the Western ways.

“Children tend to learn the Western ways and in most occasions, end up feeling like they are entitled to everything and anything,” says Muthami. 

She says it is the duty of a parent to train his/her children. “Even if you have means, set conditions of the ‘give and take’ nature whereby if the child does not fulfil his or her side of the bargain, then they don’t get rewards.

For example, for one to be granted access to accessories such as a phone, the child should be given targets academically or even in other activities.

In such a scenario, the child will not feel like it is his or her entitlement to receive something, but will view it as a way of rewarding hard work and effort,” Muthami explains.

She further adds that parents should teach their children the importance of working hard to become responsible and independent at some point in their lives.

Catherine Musyoka Amulundu, a clinical psychologist says parents have a duty to nurture and guide their children into becoming responsible adults.

However, too often, some parents fail because they tend to confuse love with over indulgence.

“Many parents do not or cannot say ‘No’ to their child because they confuse ‘No’ with lack of love.

Have you ever heard parents say, ‘anything for my baby?’ These are parents who bring up children who have a sense of entitlement,” says Amulundu. 

According to the expert, an entitled child lacks self-restraint, demands immediate gratification, lacks empathy even for their own parents and only sees and understands life from their own frame or reference.

Amulundu says parents have to remain in control and in charge of their interaction with their children all the time. 

More on Lifestyle