How to Deal with an Entitled Teenager

Raising a teenager is never easy, but dealing with an entitled teen can be especially challenging. Entitlement is a trait where someone believes they inherently deserve special treatment, privileges or rewards without earning them. Entitled teenagers often have unrealistic expectations and demands from their parents, while being reluctant to accept responsibility or reciprocate compassion.

Though frustrating, there are constructive ways parents can guide entitled teens to be more grateful, empathetic and accountable. With patience and wisdom, you can help lead your entitled teenager onto a healthy life path.

Key Takeaways

  • Set clear rules and boundaries, while allowing safe opportunities for independence. Stick to proportional, consistent consequences.
  • Cultivate gratitude and humility through community service, charity work and reflecting on privileges.
  • Foster empathy and maturity by having heart-to-heart talks, assigning household responsibilities and modeling selflessness.
  • Validate their emotions while correcting false assumptions and double standards. Don’t overindulge them.
  • Help build their confidence through praising efforts, not just achievement. Encourage pursing earned rewards.

Recognizing Signs of Entitlement

The teenage years mark a developmental stage of seeking autonomy and testing boundaries. But behaviors like constantly demanding things, ignoring rules or shirking effort can reflect unhealthy entitlement rather than normal adolescent assertion.

Here are some common signs that may indicate an entitled teen mentality:

  • Expecting money, gifts or favors without earning them, feeling owed simply for existing
  • Refusing to complete chores or household tasks, believing such work is beneath them
  • Skipping school or activities due to laziness, but then blaming others for the consequences
  • Making rules apply differently to themselves versus others
  • Lashing out if they don’t immediately get what they want
  • Taking shared resources without permission or consideration of others’ needs
  • Blaming mistakes or misfortune on external factors, unable to admit fault
  • Displaying little interest in people or topics beyond themselves
  • Feeling entitled to expensive material items or privileges reserved for adults

If you observe a persistent pattern of these behaviors, your teen may be dealing with entitlement issues. The sooner it’s addressed, the better the outcomes typically are.

Why Entitlement Happens

Multiple factors can feed into an entitled adolescent mentality. As parents, being aware of potential root causes will help you choose the most fitting strategies.

Overindulging as a child is one culprit. Kids who grow up getting everything they ask for without having to earn it can develop into entitled teens.

Giving excessive praise focused only on talent rather than effort risks fostering a belief that just being special entitles them to rewards.

Teens who face very few demands at home regarding chores, accountability or helping out often lack humility and consideration.

Peers, pop culture or social media influences sometimes normalize entitled attitudes for impressionable adolescents.

Psychological factors like anxiety, depression or insecurity can also manifest as entitled behaviors while teenagers try establishing their identity.

Of course, even kids raised in the same environment can turn out differently. But understanding where entitlement stems from will guide you towards tailored solutions.

Setting Clear Rules and Boundaries

One of the most effective ways to curb entitled behaviors is through consistent structure and defined expectations. Teenagers push boundaries by nature. What they truly need are appropriate limits to grow within.

Avoid arbitrary edicts or authoritarian dictates. Collaboratively establish fair guidelines focused on accountability, consideration and safety. Explain the rationale behind each rule. Make sure to include school attendance, household chores, digital usage and budgeting allowances among the topics covered.

Align on proportional consequences for breaking rules, such as temporarily losing privileges or added responsibilities. Always follow through consistently every time a boundary is overstepped.

Boundaries reassure entitled teenagers that someone has their best interest at heart. Predictability helps ease anxieties around growing up. They gain confidence realizing they can handle incremental independence.

Of course, set expectations should adapt over time as your teen proves more maturity. Be prepared to recalibrate privileges, duties and freedoms as they demonstrate readiness. But hold the line against attempts to shirk legitimate responsibilities.

With both empathy and high standards, you’ll steer your entitled teenager toward realizing they control their own destiny through accountable choices, not demands. Tough love pays off in the long run.

Allowing Safe Opportunities for Autonomy

While structure is key, entitled teens also need opportunities to healthily assert independence and make more choices themselves. Within guarded limits, let your entitled teenager practice:

  • Managing their own schedule – Planning study time, social events, sports, etc teaches prioritization and reliability.
  • Earning and budgeting money – Give them autonomy over discretionary spending from allowance or part-time jobs.
  • Contributing meaningful opinions – Listen and involve them in important family decisions when appropriate.
  • Exploring personal interests – Support discovering their passions and talents through classes, clubs, volunteering.
  • Voicing their feelings – Allow space to vent frustrations while also moderating harmful attitudes.

With the safety net of your guidance, these experiences build confidence and reveal they have some control over the direction of their life. They’ll begin shedding self-entitlement in favor of self-determination.

Cultivating Gratitude and Humility

A powerful antidote to entitlement is nurturing gratitude, humility and compassion. Teens fixated on themselves benefit greatly from realizing how their actions impact others.

One pathway is through community service – volunteering at food banks, animal shelters, children’s hospitals or environmental cleanups. Giving their time and effort to help causes bigger than themselves broadens entitled perspectives.

Similarly, participating in charity fundraising drives – walkathons, banquets, toy drives – also focuses entitled teenagers outside themselves as they contribute to people in need.

These activities work best when parents participate alongside their teens, modeling empathy and selflessness. Don’t just drop off your entitled teenager and leave. Share in the experience of helping.

Discussing privileges and socioeconomic differences also builds gratitude and humility. Kids raised in comfortable middle or upper class families can grow presumptuous, expecting luxuries as entitlements.

Open their eyes to realities other teenagers face who grow up in poverty, deal with disabilities, or experience discrimination or adversity. Stories about hardworking kids their age who can’t take education for granted helps entitled teens appreciate their advantages weren’t merely granted because they’re special.

Volunteering, fundraising and perspective taking transforms entitled teenagers from asking “What can others do for me?” to “What can I do for others?”

Fostering Maturity and Accountability

Curbing entitled behaviors requires instilling more maturity in your teenager. Beyond sheltering them from life’s typical demands, you must prepare teens to handle responsibilities.

Assigning daily and weekly chores around the house is a straightforward way to build character. Basic tasks like cleaning their room, walking pets, loading dishwashers or taking out trash may meet resistance. But don’t cave.

Completing their share contributes to the household and family. Make sure to pull your own weight with chores rather than just assigning them. Lead by example.

Give your entitled teenager oversight of household duties requiring greater maturity like cooking family meals, helping siblings with homework, or assisting grandparents. Rotate assignments so it’s not the same few tasks.

As teenagers prove trustworthy, consider letting them care for pets or babysit younger relatives short term. These opportunities to look after others teach empathy and conscientiousness.

When unforeseen circumstances hit your family, like a health emergency or urgent repairs, involve your teen in solving challenges. Their entitled instinct may be to shrug it off as not their problem. But guide them to step up and support others in times of need.

During hardships and teachable moments, shift their focus from “That’s not my fault” to “Here’s how I can help.” Entitled attitudes fade as their responsibilities grow. They realize achievements come through commitment, not simply commanded.

Holding Them Accountable with Empathy

When entitled teenagers shirk expectations, overstep boundaries or make unreasonable demands, it’s essential to hold them accountable calmly yet firmly. However, angry retaliation or harsh criticism often backfires, escalating tantrums and resentment.

The key is correcting their selfish behavior without tearing down their self-esteem. Listen to their feelings first, then address faulty mindsets.

If they bitterly protest being asked to complete a simple chore, recognize their frustration but reiterate it’s their responsibility that helps the entire household.

If your teen believes the rules should be different for them, explain why consistency and fairness matter – ask how they’d feel if you gave their sibling special treatment over them.

Allow them to give input on decisions when appropriate, but reinforce that “My house, my rules” still applies until they’re older.

When demands are completely unrealistic, offer empathy for their disappointment but say, “I understand you want that, but it’s not going to happen right now.”

Be the rock who doesn’t bend to entitled outbursts. But also show compassion as you enforce boundaries. With both loving support and constructive discipline, entitled mindsets gradually mature.

Praising Efforts Over Achievement

Many well-meaning parents try bolstering entitled teens’ confidence through effusive praise about their intelligence, talent or beauty – implying these innate traits entitle them to success. This can backfire, fostering fragile egos requiring constant validation.

Instead, praise the specific efforts and behaviors that lead to achievement. Applaud their preparation, focus, persistence and willingness to try new strategies.

Emphasize that their hard work and self-discipline, not just raw ability, produced results. Acknowledge when they push themselves out of their comfort zone.

Celebrate big accomplishments briefly, then shift to asking open-ended questions – “How did you stay motivated during the tough parts?” This cues them to reflect.

When entitled teens do struggle or underachieve, resist the urge to criticize. Express your confidence that with sustained effort, they can master new skills in time.

This growth mindset approach teaches teenagers their future is not predetermined. Through determination and grit, they can accomplish great things they earn step-by-step.

Encouraging Intrinsic Motivation

Some entitled teenagers have grown accustomed to rewards constantly handed to them rather than working towards goals themselves. They may study just for the promised iPad, or practice piano to earn $20 from mom.

But when rewards come easily, teenagers have little opportunity to experience the pride and fulfillment intrinsic motivation brings. Rekindle their passion by focusing praise on progress, not prizes.

Share inspiring stories of other teens challenging themselves through sports, theater or starting neighborhood businesses. Discuss what drives them.

Organic motivation also grows through autonomy. Let your entitled teenager pick their activities and hobbies rather than pushing them. Passion is discovered, not dictated.

As they learn to self-direct, discuss how mastering new skills compounds. Each small achievement unlocks greater ones down the road. Help them see building their abilities, not accolades, as the reward itself.

In time, you’ll see entitled teenagers develop genuine interest and joy in their pursuits. They realize the autonomy and competency are themselves fulfilling – no longer expecting trophies just for showing up.

Maintaining Realistic Expectations

Some entitled attitudes stem from adolescents’ skewed perspective and lack of experience. Teenagers naturally crave extreme freedom with zero responsibilities. Your job is resetting unrealistic expectations.

Casually discuss age appropriate milestones as your teen approaches them. A 13-year-old assumes they’ll get a cell phone immediately like some friends. But explain most don’t get one until 8th grade graduation, contingent on their maturity.

Entitled teens may insist they require expensive name-brand clothing or the latest iPhone. But make clear these goods aren’t necessities, but privileges to be earned through saving allowance or paid jobs.

When your entitled teenager seeks the same leeway around curfew, driving privileges or unsupervised activities as older teens, clarify rights come gradually as they prove responsibility.

If their inflated expectations come from peer pressure or social media, encourage evaluating their values rather than blindly following others. What earns their genuine admiration?

Listen to your entitled teen’s gripes and desires. But keep conveying reasonable expectations based on their age and conduct. Consistent reality checks teach entitlement stems from immaturity, not merit.

Avoiding Overindulgence and Permissiveness

It may be tempting to overindulge an entitled teenager to minimize their complaints or tantrums. But this often reinforces the mentality that their desires eclipse other priorities.

Say your teen demands the latest iPhone, but their grades are poor. Giving in to avoid a fight teaches them rewards come from pleading, not responsibility. Or if they expect to lounge around all summer, letting them skip chores signals duties are optional.

Set expectations of fair contributions to family life. Don’t let them grow passive and self-centered. Shared experiences build bonds and understanding.

Occasional treats or getaways are fine, but tie most extras to efforts that benefit themselves and others. Earned enjoyment teaches more lasting lessons.

Permissive parents enable entitlement by protecting teens from consequences. If their reckless behavior causes car damages, pay for repairs yourself but have them work off the costs. Natural results motivate change.

With empathy balanced by high standards, teenagers accept they can’t control everything. But they have great power over their choices going forward. This realization helps entitlement fade.

When to Seek Professional Help

In most cases, entitled teenager behavior diminishes as they mature and have more experiences. But if it escalates into severe family dysfunction, consider seeking family or teen counseling.

Look for ongoing patterns like:

  • Extremely hostile outbursts or threats when denied something
  • Refusing reasonable responsibilities for weeks on end
  • Dangerous rule breaking such as stealing money or sneaking out
  • Bullying younger siblings frequently

Give counseling a try if calm efforts haven’t ended a downward spiral. A neutral third party can identify root causes and suggest strategies. For severe depression or anxiety, psychiatry may help too.

Some families also benefit from academic attitude assessments. Diagnosis of learning disabilities or conditions like ADHD might explain acting out. Accommodations and therapy can get them on track.

Through a mix of professional help, dedicated parenting and teenager introspection, even the most stubborn senses of entitlement can transform into empathy and wisdom.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I tell normal teen self-assertion from unhealthy entitlement?

  • Self-assertion involves responsible testing of freedoms and expressing independence. Entitlement disregards responsibilities while demanding privileges.
  • Teens exhibiting entitlement lack gratitude and empathy. They rationalize double standards and blame others for problems.
  • Normal teens get frustrated but accept eventual compromise. Entitled teens have extreme reactions to being told no, calling it unfair.

My teen blames us for their mistakes. How do I break this entitled thinking?

  • Validate frustrations but reiterate how their choices caused the outcome. Avoid accusatory tones while calmly holding them accountable.
  • Share your own childhood stories of making mistakes but learning to do better next time. Teach that missteps are normal but focus energy on what they can control.
  • Praise even small acts of taking responsibility, like admitting when they’re wrong. This incremental shift in mentality builds momentum.

Why does my teen feel entitled to expensive items their peers have?

  • Emphasize hard work being more admirable than material items. Share stories of wealthy people who started with nothing.
  • Suggest saving allowance to buy premium items themselves. Teach comparison stems from immaturity. Support their interests, not jealousy.
  • Limit social media use heavily correlated with entitlement. Set healthy technology boundaries and monitor content.

In Summary

Dealing with an entitled teenager is frustrating but surmountable. Establish clear expectations and proportional consequences. Nurture empathy and maturity by expanding responsibilities. Validate feelings while refusing unreasonable demands. Praise effort over achievement. Seek counseling only for severe behavioral issues, not normal teen angst. With patience and wisdom, you can guide your entitled teenager onto a healthy life path built on gratitude, compassion and accountability.