Dealing with AN ENTITLED TEEN
Dealing with a teenager as they navigate their journey into establishing personal identity and independence can be a minefield. According to author and speaker Michelle Mitchell, parents regularly contact her to discuss their child’s shocking sense of entitlement.
“On a bad day, they feel like they exist to meet their teenager’s every desire and whim, which is not a cool job description for any parent,” she explains. “On a good day, they are frustrated by their teen’s general disregard for time, money and other things in general.”
While it’s easy to get up in arms about this kind of behaviour, it’s important to stop and see the world through their eyes for a minute.
“They are a generation who aspire to
the good life, as found in their news feeds every day … ordinary can never measure up to the highlight reel of happy faces and special places they see,” Michelle says.
It’s here we have to focus on bringing young people back to basics. Michelle explains her tips for teaching kids that hard work meets outcomes, money doesn’t grow on trees and everyone is on an equal playing field.
MAKE ROOM FOR LIFE LESSONS
Small incidental lessons are powerful ways of teaching teens respect. Any instances
where you are in the driver’s seat are moments you can use to your advantage. Here’s a great little example that shows how easy it is to teach your children that your time is valuable… Daughter’s text: “I forgot my PE uniform and I really need it before my class this afternoon or I’ll be in big trouble. Please bring it and meet me at the office at lunchtime.” Mum’s text: “What’s in it for me? You’re interrupting my afternoon.” Daughter’s text: “Ummmm…” Mum’s text: “I need the washing done – three loads and hung out.
Daughter’s text: “OK, I’ll do it tonight.” Mum’s text: “Deal.”
The mum then drove to the school and took the uniform to the office. Instead of feeling resentful for having to bring the uniform up or feeling guilty because her kid was the one who forgot it, she proudly said to the school receptionist: “I’m getting the washing done tonight for bringing this up!” To which the receptionist replied: “Good on you. You wouldn’t believe how many mums run up here saying it is their fault that their kid forgot it!”
LET THEM SAY NO
Teens don’t like to hear the word “no”, so don’t say it. Put the ball in their court. Enabling them to manage their own money and feel the full weight of mismanagement is actually a really important part of their development. One mum told me that she gave her child a set amount of money each week and expected them to manage their own purchases, including entertainment and takeaway food. This forced her child to make conscious choices and set priorities. It also stopped a lot of the arguments they were having. If the child wanted takeaway on the way home from school, the answer is always: “Sure, darling. Got your money?”
Part-time jobs are priceless. I can’t think of a better way to guide a young person than to teach them the value of hard work. If you prefer your teenager to earn money at home, but are tired of arguing about jobs, why not outsource them? Why not get them to do jobs for neighbours or other family members? They are more likely to work hard for someone they are less familiar with.
• Author of Parenting Teenage Girls in the Age of the New Normal, Michelle Mitchell has an online puberty program for schools and parents. Find out more at michellemitchell.org