12 Steps to managing an entitled teenager

An entitled teenager may feel it's them against the world and that the world ‘owes them’. They believe that they deserve privileges or special treatment.

Many parents aren’t sure how to deal with an entitled teenager for fear that it will lead to conflict, resistance and disengagement. Here are 12 positive steps on how to manage an entitled teenager:

1. Be a Good Role Model

Talk about things that you are grateful for, what you value and why.  For example: do you value being able to work part-time and develop yourself, but also be present for your children? Do you believe that being kind and non judgmental towards others is an important characteristic?  Your previously ungrateful teenager will see these values in you and see that you live by them. Try to teach and explore who your teenager is underneath and keep them grounded.

As teenagers develop and mature, they will typically seek out and thrive with being giving a little more responsibility. for example; allow them to go to a party with friends but talk about responsible drinking and behaviour and have an understanding of when and how they will get home. If they need you to take them somewhere, don’t drop everything to meet their needs immediately.  Let them know they need to plan and ask if you’re able/available to take them, and not automatically expect it.

2. Encourage responsibility

3. Set clear boundaries and expectations for all the family

In your family unit, have house-rules that everyone understands, can contribute towards and meet.  House-rules can meet practical needs but also help your teenager to understand that other peoples needs should also be considered, not just their own. Chores and responsibilities -within your child’s current capabilities – will help prevent your child from becoming entitled. They can help your child to feel accomplished and competent, building their self-worth.

4. Work Together

You don’t feel your child is pulling their weight, but maybe they have a completely different perspective. Help your child to see how it feels from your perspective when they don’t help you. Work out a plan (ideally a written plan) which creates a mutual understanding between you.

5. Rewards Reward your teenager with your time, energy and attention.  Don’t be too quick to apply material rewards for everything they might achieve.  For example, replace buying a treat or new video game for passing an exam, with an activity you could do together at the weekend.

6. Praise & Acknowledgement Praise your teenager and acknowledge their good behaviour or efforts. Let them know when they’ve done a good job. Even small things can be celebrated. Aim to give more positive feedback to your child than negative, to maintain that all-important connection with your child.

7. Working and Earning Their Own Money During their high school years, encourage your teenager to earn their own money by doing a part-time job, perhaps at the weekend or during the school holiday. This will help them to learn the value of hard work and the personal satisfaction and monetary benefits this brings them. One of the good things about working is that your teenager will learn the importance of responsibility . For example; turning up on time and learning from any mistakes they might make.

Explore the difference between wants and needs with your teenager. A need is something necessary to live and function. A want is something that can improve your quality of life. The best way to divide wants from needs is to let time pass before fulfilling the desire for an item. Having desires to have or buy something is fine.  However, teaching your teenager to evaluate, assess and prioritise their wants and desires will ultimately lead them to appreciate what they have by making a considered choice.

8. Wants and Needs

9. Talk About Money Talk to your teenager about money and what things cost. You don’t have to go into all your finances, but encourage your teen to ask money-related questions when they arise. If your teenager has an awareness of the value of money, they are more likely to commit and learn to ask themselves –“ can I afford it”, “do I need it”?

10. Empower Independence Teenagers can often feel entitled yet powerless relying on parents and others to meet their needs. Continuing to do everything for them is not how to deal with entitled teenagers.  So encourage them to be more independent both practically and emotionally allowing them to learn from mistakes and take responsibility for themselves.

11. Communicate Sometimes, the right thing to do is to let your teenager know that you’re not happy with how they are behaving or that their attitude is worrying, even if little things are bothering you. If your teenager displays disrespectful behaviour, tell them what you see and why it’s not acceptable.  This can be an effective way of helping them understand the impact of their behaviour on others’ and how others’ might respond to them. However, don’t confront them in the heat of the moment. This will only lead to escalating conflict. Wait until you are both calm.

12. Positive Feedback Try to give more positive feedback than negative feedback to your teenager. Negative feedback is sometimes important – your teen needs to know how their behaviour makes others feel – but it may put them on a defensive footing. Giving positive feedback is the best way to instil confidence in your teenager and foster a healthy self-view.