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Damage Control Plan for How to Deal with an Ungrateful Child

Are you accidently raising entitled or ungrateful children? It’s super common! Luckily, these simple tips will help you stop that in it’s tracks and raise grateful kids.

Our local museum was deliberately set up so that you had to walk through the gift shop to exit the building. This invited every kids to dig through the silly over-priced items, and was practically torture for the parents who just wanted to get out with some change in their pockets.

As a 10 year old kid, I remember looking forward to visiting the museum giftshop more than visiting the dinosaurs and mummy tombs.

The funny part was, I knew I couldn’t get anything. I was the oldest of five children, and my parents couldn’t afford to let us all get something from the gift shop.

However, on one particularly memorable day, my mom let me pick out a pencil from the museum.

A pencil.

I never even sharpened that museum-labeled pencil, because I loved it so much wanted to keep it forever.

Flash forward 30 or so years. I am a mother of three kids and we visit that exact same museum every year.

The same dinosaur bones line the big hallways, but there is one big difference.

I started to let my kids pick something out from the gift shop. I was proud to be able to give them what I always wanted as a kid; however, each year they wanted something bigger.

They started to expect a toy each time, and would get upset if we told them no.

As a parent, this was the moment I truly started to understand the negative impact of entitlement on a child’s behavior.

You may also like: How to Respond When Your Kid Says I Hate You

Dealing with an Ungrateful Kid

There is a simple reason why entitlement issues and ungrateful attitude in young children is so common.

If you asked 100 parents to raise their hand if they want their kids to be happy, I can bet that you would see 100 hands waving high in the air. Some parents may even snicker at how cliche and obvious the answer to that question is.

We can all agree that happiness is high on our parental priority list.

However, complexity arises when you consider if what you are doing to keep your kids happy now is affecting your child’s future happiness. We need to find an effective way to raise good kids.

Consider the extreme: a child who is never challenged, disciplined, or questioned will be happy right now, but what about the long run? Will the child who was never told “No” be able to function in the world?

This is where entitlement, a common issue, comes into play. Simply put, entitlement is characterized by the belief that one deserves preferences that others do not.  It leads to disrespectful behavior in younger children, which bleeds in the teen years.

In otherwords, you can be faced with an even more difficult situation when the teenage years approach or you create a disrespectful adult child.

Luckily, it is absolutely possible to raise happy kids who grow into successful young adults.

The good thing is if your child is already showing signs of entitlement, that can be reversed too.

Think of this as damage control for your entitled child.

Related: The best way to raise a good kid who can make their own choices is to focus on their personality type

Admitting Entitlement is the First Step

It is a real hit to our parental ego to admit that we are raising ungrateful children; however, accepting this realization is the first thing parents have to do before working towards resolution.

The good news is – you are not alone with these fears. According to a poll commissioned by Time and CNN, two-thirds of American parents believe they are raising a spoiled child.

Amy Mcready, the founder of Positive Parenting Solutions, describes entitlement as widespread epidemic. “The entitlement epidemic usually begins with over-parenting—over-indulging, over-protecting, over-pampering, over-praising, and jumping through hoops to meets kids endless demands,” she explains.

Related: How to Raise Emotionally Unstoppable Kids

In Mcready’s book, The Me, Me, Me Epidemic: A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World, she lists these 9 ways to know that your kid is entitled:

  1. Expects rewards for good behavior
  2. Not interested in helping
  3. Is most concerned about himself
  4. Passes blame
  5. Can’t handle disappointment.
  6. Needs a treat to do as told
  7. Expects to be rescued from mistakes
  8. Feels like the rules don’t apply
  9. Constantly wants more

If these behaviors sound eerily familiar, you may be part of the two-thirds of American’s who feel they are raising an entitled child.

Related: Fun and Simple Mindfulness Activities for Kids and Teens

Damage Control when Raising Entitled Kids

My 6 year old daughter was the poster-child for entitlement.

It didn’t happen overnight. She always needed a little extra affection. Overtime, that affection evolved into demands and dependency. I realized that she sat back while I served her breakfast on a tray and put on her shoes for her each morning.

After doing some soul searching, coupled with research, I found that there are 5 simple ways to prevent or reverse entitlement issues in children before they grow into a disrespectful grown child.

Whether you are raising a teenage daughter or son, or a kid of any age, these clear boundaries will help adjust your child’s attitude before it becomes a major problem.

Make learning gratitude fun with this Easy Gratitude Game!

1) Eliminate unnecessary gift giving

Over-gifting and ungrateful behavior seem to go hand-in-hand. Try to only give gifts and material things during special occasions, such as holidays and birthdays.

Encourage your kid to take pride in giving other people gift. For a good example, bring your kids to the store to select gifts for other children if invited to a party. And do not let them purchase a gift for themselves during that trip.

My 10 year old son was recently invited to a friend’s party. He picked out a nerf gun for his friend, and he wanted the same one. My husband promptly told him that he had to wait until his birthday for something like that.

When you do give gifts, try to give experience-related gifts. Here are 6 examples of non-toy gifts for kids who have too much stuff.

2) Pass on your morals

Be a good role model and show your child what life means to you.

  • Do you value family dinner? Put down the video games and cell phone ,and make screen-free dinner time a priority
  • Are you a nature enthusiast? Bring your family members on nature hikes to explore
  • Do you have strong religious ties? Speak to your kids openly about your beliefs
  • Do you want to start a weekly anchor routine? Have a Friday night movie night

Take an active role in passing your morals and principles to your children.

For high school age kids, encourage them to volunteer at a soup kitchen. They don’t have to spend a lot of time there, every little bit will be impactful to all who are involved.

Check out these great ways for families of all kinds to bond – whether older parents, a single parent, and large families.

3) Make chores and family contributions mandatory

A big struggle I had with my daughter was getting her to contribute around our home. If my husband or I asked her to put her dishes in the sink, she would simply reply, “I don’t feel like it.”

Chore charts are great ways to display your expectations for your children and teach them about hard work.

Click here for simple ways to introduce chores to kids – including age-appropriate chore lists.

Older children

4) Parent with natural consequences

One of the common reasons why young adults often don’t have a sense of gratitude is that they were never told no.

Modern parents have a hard time simply telling kids “no”.

Bribery may initially seem like an effective parenting disciplinary method, but it portrays weakness and gives control to your child.

It may not feel like a big deal, but parenting with bribes and threats lead to instant issues with entitlement.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents and caregivers use healthy forms of discipline. These include positive reinforcement of appropriate behaviors, setting limits, redirecting, and lastly, setting future expectations. 

Learn how to eliminate bribes and threats and discipline with natural consequences here.

5) Stick by your rules

You are in charge. You are the boss. Be proud of that.

There is no shame in telling that to your kids. Next time if they question your rules, you can simply reply with, “When you are a parent, then you can make the rules.”

A little tough love can be an important thing, especially for a younger child.

You can still have a good relationship with your kid without being their best friend.

Final Thoughts on Raising an Entitled or Ungrateful Child

The good news is, you don’t have to deprive and punish your children to ensure that you raise an un-entitled child.

Parenting is not one-size fits all; however, when you mix these methods with unconditional love,

If you follow the above tips, in combination with these 5 Simple Ways to Hardwire Your Kids Brain for Happiness, then you can raise happy kids who turn into strong resilient adults.

In the parenting world, that is the epitome of having your cake and eating it to.

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Tuesday 16th of January 2024

My mother would ask me if I had been good at school. If I had, she would be pleased, and then say something like, 'I can teach you how to cook an egg', or I can show you how to...responsible task, hoover, dust, clean, any job that needed doing. From there it began with, perhaps you can do the dishes by yourself, make tea by yourself. Basically making me independent. I never said that I had been naughty, because I wasn't spoilt. All skills were treats. Chores were a forbidden word. Hopefully this might be useful. It's free, and bonds parents and children


Thursday 18th of January 2024

I love this! What a natural say to teach kids

Concerned mom

Saturday 12th of August 2023

My 9 year old boy seem to becoming an ungrateful child . I really do all that I can to discipline. I have been living with most of these above ideas . We did great till the age of 6 he started changing at 7 I feel like I'm raising a monster who makes my life so difficult everyday. He bunks classes, tears new clothes, his school work is a mess,hiss room is forever messy, he back chats .I'm not coping . I need help I find it too hard to love him


Sunday 6th of August 2023

This was great! Thank you so much!

Grammye at Grammye’s Front Porch

Thursday 8th of June 2023

Such a great and helpful article. Parenting (and grandparenting) can leave the adults feeling very defeated. You’ve shown us so much here. I also clicked on the “I hate you” link and was reminded of the many ways I need to respond as the grownup. Thank you.


Monday 6th of February 2023

Not a parent but an older (half) sister and my dad is very good with structure and consequences but my step mom isn't and the lack of structure causes my extremely spoiled sister to not improve

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