Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions, Inc. and author Amy McCready discusses how to raise “capable, grateful kids in an overly-entitled world” in her new book, The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic. “Parents say it’s kids these days, but we the parents have the power to turn this around,” says McCready. There are many factors that contribute to the entitlement-factor among children.
Technology is a part of most people’s daily lives, so it’s important that parents recognize how the overuse of technology can affect their children. “There are always positives and negatives of those things and with all of those conveniences, it does create some dilemmas. Technology eliminated the delayed gratification because it provides immediate gratification,” says McCready.
“Social media reinforces the ‘me, me, me’ mentality. It’s all about what everyone thinks of me.” Since there are so many different platforms of technology that are integrated into our daily lives, parents will often default to technology. McCready makes reference to several examples. For instance, parents teach their children to wait by giving them their phone or tablet to pass the time. The child then plays a game on the device until it’s their turn. Instead, McCready recommends that parents teach their children how to wait patiently without the distraction of an electronic piece of equipment.
In many cases, parents are scared of how their child will react if they take away technology, therefore, they don’t change their ways and continue to allow their children to become saturated with screen exposure. In her book, The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic, McCready recommends that parents make changes sooner rather than later. When it comes to technology, she believes that guidelines should be outlined and enforced. Instead of technology being seen as a right, it should be viewed as a privilege. “The most important thing is to limit access to technology,” she explains. “If you’re going to allow them to play with the iPad then give them a specific amount of time. It’s a privilege, not a babysitter. Instead of using technology, take the time to deal with that specific behavior. Kids learn that their fussing is an excellent strategy to get what they want.”
As for older children, McCready recommends that parents reiterate the idea of technology as a privilege versus a right. “We can prevent a lot of issues by training kids how to use technology successfully—particularly when kids use social media,” says McCready. Clear definitive rules are crucial. “Outline time frames, share passwords and tell your kids that you will be checking their accounts. Tell them it’s not ‘Big Brother,’ but we’re going to check in. And if you’re not following the rules then your privilege will be taken away. We must set a good example as parents,” says McCready.
The “me, me, me” epidemic also stems from the reward and praise system that parents have in place. “I’m going to encourage parents to give up on rewards—we’re talking about the entitlement epidemic. If kids expect a reward then it fosters the attitude of entitlement. Rewards lose its luster,” says McCready. “Instead use your win-win routines and substitute encouragement for rewards. Instead of rewarding a kid to do their family contribution, use encouragement.” Even though parents may be hesitant to remove the reward system from their parenting style, McCready believes that it’s something that should stop and there isn’t a grace period. “Parents can’t see how they can ever implement this because they’re scared to death about their child’s reaction,” says McCready. “When you start using encouragement, your kids will light up. What we’re trying to do is foster internal motivation instead of external motivation.”
There is no definitive how-to manual on raising children. However, parents can use various resources to steer them in the right direction and provide feedback on important topics of discussion.