When one of our sons was younger, he went through a stage where he became very entitled. It was a challenging period for us because no matter what we did, he would feel that he was being grossly mistreated and lived with a sense of injustice. He felt like everyone else was treated better than him. A lot had to do with his behaviour and the consequences he was having to face, which for him, was further evidence that we were the “worst parents in the whole world”.
I can’t remember the details now; it was either Christmas or his birthday, and my husband, Gary, and I had decided to get him an expensive gift that he really wanted. We had sat down to plan how to pay for it and the merits of letting him have it and decided we would make the necessary sacrifices. Before we had a chance to buy it, he started to demand that very gift we would have loved to get for him just because we loved him and wanted him to have his heart’s desire. He demanded that we should get it because he deserved it, and it would prove that we weren’t the awful parents that he proclaimed. He doubled down on the demands, and Gary and I were sad for him because we knew that getting that present would teach him and his brothers that bullying and manipulating people into things is how you get what you want. It broke our hearts, and he never fully understood that his entitlement kept him from having what he wanted.
Entitlement poses significant dangers to both individuals and society. When individuals feel entitled, they often develop unrealistic expectations that they deserve special treatment or privileges without putting in the necessary effort or consideration for others. This attitude can lead to resentment, strained relationships, and a lack of personal growth.
I often see this in the workplace when someone has a significant shift. This shift in attitude may stem from newfound power or influence, and it can lead to arrogance and an expectation of preferential treatment. Such entitlement can erode trust and credibility. It's essential for individuals who undergo such a transformation to remain humble, acknowledge their past positions, and approach their new stance with a sense of responsibility and a commitment to genuine change rather than using it to assert dominance or privilege over others.
Supporting a person who exhibits entitlement can be challenging, but it's important to encourage personal growth and empathy. Here are three things you can do:
1. Open Communication: Engage in honest and respectful conversations with the individual about their behaviour. Encourage them to reflect on their actions and attitudes, helping them understand how entitlement may affect their relationships and well-being. Be prepared to provide specific examples and suggest alternative perspectives.
2. Encourage Self-Awareness: Help the person develop self-awareness by asking them to consider the perspectives and feelings of others. Encourage them to put themselves in other people's shoes and think about the impact of their actions. Self-reflection can be a powerful tool in combating entitlement.
3. Set Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries in your interactions with the individual. Let them know that certain behaviours or demands are not acceptable. By setting boundaries, you can create a safe space for them to recognise their entitlement and work on changing their behaviour. Be consistent in enforcing these boundaries to promote accountability.
Remember that addressing entitlement may take time, and the individual may need to undergo a personal growth process. Be patient, supportive, and firm in your commitment to promoting healthier attitudes and behaviours.
When was the last time you exhibited entitlement? How did that go for you?