The Entitlement Trap

When I take my children shopping (which is not very often, mind you) I prepare myself for hearing plenty of, “Mom! Can I get that?!”

How often have you heard those words?

Entitlement – A growing problem

In polls among the parents of elementary and middle school kids, over half of respondents identify ENTITLEMENT as the biggest parenting challenge they face.

A sense of entitlement is the polar opposite of a sense of responsibility and robs kids of initiative and motivation.

As I have become a parent of a teenage daughter (and now a second daughter less than a year away from the teen years) I have noticed that sense of entitlement has gotten even worse with age. My older kids seem even more aware of what their friends have…..and they want it, too.

Whether it’s needing a cell phone (everyone else has them!) or needing a certain brand of jeans (nothing else but the best will do!), it seems that many kids want what they want NOW without wanting to work for those things.

Meeting the Eyres

This past week, I had the chance to meet briefly with Richard and Linda Eyre, husband and wife team, parents of 9 kids, speakers, and authors of many excellent parenting books. Their newest book, The Entitlement Trap: How to Rescue Your Child with a New Family System of Choosing, Earning, and Ownership, is coming out on September 6, and I am so excited to read it.

I first heard the Eyres speak about entitlement a few years ago and it was one of those topics that immediately made sense to me. Sadly, I could see so much of what they warned against happening in my own family. This week, when I heard them speak again, I was eager to introduce myself and asked if I could share some information about their new book with our readers.

Here’s a sneak peek at what you can find in their new book:

How to counteract entitlement

Kids’ sense of economic entitlement can be largely fixed by taking two simple steps:

1. Stop buying toys and games and gadgets for them and eliminate allowances that are not performance-based. “Allowance” is a welfare or entitlement term and promotes the idea of something for nothing.

2. Set up a simple family economy where kids have a couple of basic chores involving the common areas of the home and keep track of when they do those chores. Have them also keep a record of the days when they finish their homework, music practice, or other tasks that you designate without being reminded. Assign numbers to these daily responsibilities (don’t have more than three or four) and tell them they can fill out a slip each day with the number of tasks completed, get it initialed by a parent, and put it in a big sturdy box with a lock on it and a slot in the top. That box becomes the family bank, and on Saturdays it is opened and instead of “allowance” you have “payday” where kids receive an amount proportionate to how many tasks they remembered and completed. They then are responsible for buying all their own clothes, toys, and gadgets.

It is this sense of “earned ownership” that counteracts entitlement!

My own success story

I admit that I have had some serious issues in the past few years with my oldest daughter wanting a cell phone (for no other reason but the fact that “all” of her friends communicate via text messages). She has also wanted an iTouch, lots of money for movies and shopping trips with friends, and rides all over the place.

Luckily, I haven’t been able to give in to her wishes most of the time because we simply don’t have enough money to fund them all. So she got a job as a soccer referee and made a few hundred dollars. Before her check came, she had planned out how to spend her money to the last penny. She had loaded her cart on with a new iTouch and all the accessories and make-up to last a year.

Once her check was in the bank, I asked if she was going to go ahead and buy everything. It killed me to see all of her money disappear so quickly, but she had earned it and I wanted her to have the experience of spending it, too.

I was so proud when she answered that she was going to wait. She realized how fast her money was going to be gone, and she remembered how hard she had worked for it. She opted to spend it a little here and a little there and to save it for some things that she needed a more than an iTouch.

Is Entitlement an issue in your home? What do you do to teach your children responsibility and ownership?

Check out The Entitlement Trap: How to Rescue Your Child with a New Family System of Choosing, Earning, and Ownership and all of the Eyre’s other parenting and family values books (I personally own several of them and have heard them speak many times and highly recommend them!). As an added bonus, if you pre-order the new book before September 6, you’ll save 33%.

You can also listen to a free teleseminar with Richard Eyre as he talks about entitlement and teaching children to be responsible and independent.

Please note: We are sharing this information because we really do believe that this is an issue that parents should be more aware of, and are not being compensated for our opinions or our time. The links to the book are Amazon affiliate links.


Written by 5 Minutes for Mom managing editor, Lolli. You can find me blogging at Better in Bulk and tweeting at @1momof5.


  1. Jennie Wojtaszek says

    As a student and teacher I find that this sense of entitlement extends to school performance as well. Kids believe that they are entitled to better grades than their performance dictates. I find the lack of disrespect mind boggling at times. For many it seems to be all about getting through the class by doing as little as possible, but expecting teachers to lower the bar for all, and depending on a ‘curve” to improve their grades. For this reason, I am a bonus question student – you work for your grade. Its quite frustrating to see, and students expect me to be able to TELL them exactly how to pass a class – exactly how to study (each person is different in this respect) – with no responsibility on their own shoulders. The most frustrating is when parents back up a child who is performing badly with excuses and complaints. I want the very best for each of my students – I am willing to work very hard to teach them properly – I expect them to work very hard at learning as well.

  2. says

    I strongly disagree with the idea of doing chores for money. We take care of our home because we’re a family and it’s important to us, as a family, to have a clean, neat, well-kept place to live – not because someone is paying us! Seriously, unless the kids are also going to pay room and board out of the money they “earn” doing chores (and frankly, I don’t want to do that much paperwork!), I think doing chores for pay is a profoundly bad idea. Who is going to pay them to do chores when they have their own place (and possibly roommates)?

    I have worked since I was 11 years old. As soon as I was old enough to want things, my mom helped me find a job that was appropriate for my age. I had a paper route, I babysat. Other kids I know do chores for neighbors for money (wholly different than doing chores in their own homes), like mowing and shoveling.

    I think part of the problem is that we’ve become such a helicopter parent society that we’re AFRAID to let our kids go out and get jobs, and we’re AFRAID to let 11 and 12 year olds babysit our smaller kids (I clearly remember babysitting a neighborhood infant at age 11), and thus the opportunities for kids to earn money on their own. We’ve lost the sense of community that we had when I was growing up (we knew all our neighbors – the kids would fight to get to the elderly neighbors first when it snowed, to get the $5 for shoveling their walk!). The way it used to be – everyone won. The elderly man didn’t have a heart attack shoveling his own walk, the kids made a little pocket money, and the parents didn’t have to shell out for every thing their kids’ hearts desired. We need to get back to that.

  3. says

    I totally forgot to rant about paying kids for doing their homework or their music practice! They should be doing that for themselves! It’s not for me (unless I take the extremely long view – that they’ll be able to take better care of me when I’m old if they have a really good job than if they have a crappy job!). It’s THEIR homework. It’s THEIR music. Not mine.

    How are kids going to learn to have an internal locus of control if I’m constantly paying them to do the stuff they ought to be doing to take care of themselves and better themselves? I think I’m gonna have to blog about this… :)

  4. says

    The truth of the matter is, we are a one income family of eight. I cannot afford to pay my kids an allowance. Earned or not. Now, if I was paying a housekeeper and my kids did the work, thus saving me money. . .perhaps. as for paying them to do homework. . .no way!

  5. Nat says

    I would agree with the two commentors above – I find it strange paying for ordinary chores (nobody is paying me for cooking or loading the dishwasher or ironing). Why should kids be paid? I would agree to allocating bonuses for extra work (e.g. shoveling snow in winter, or mowing the lawn, or cleaning the windows… not a regular chore). Financial awards for good results at school could be an option (don’t we say that school is a job for you ;)) Any job should be paid. One of the trainers at a seminar I went to a couple of months ago suggested a system by which “positive” marks are awarded and “negative” ones are fined. It’s up to the family to set the limit (is C or D or maybe E positive or negative – depending on the child, I suppose). And then you calculate – the more positive evaluations you have, the bigger the salary. If you got some E’s or F’s, you get some deductions… Could be an option, still considering it. In the perfect world, I suppose, kids should realise that chores and studies are their own responsibility and do their best in spite of allowances/payments/money.

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