5 Ways Well-Meaning Parents Create Entitlement In Their Kids Without Realizing It

Entitlement is something parents can instill or discourage in their kids.

mom and dad walking with two kids Emma Bauso / Pexels

When children behave poorly, it doesn’t come out of nowhere: Rather, they’re being told by their parents, whether consciously or unconsciously, that their behavior is acceptable.

Parenting is hard work, and parents should certainly pick their battles, yet there are ways in which parents act and react that reinforce privilege in a negative way.

Here are 5 ways well-meaning parents create entitlement in their kids without realizing it:

1. Not enforcing boundaries

When parents choose not to enforce boundaries, they’re essentially telling their kids that they can do whatever they want without consequences. Enforcing boundaries isn’t always easy, especially when your kid is in the middle of meltdown mode because they’re not getting that candy bar at the checkout line.


A parent coach named Cassie Gudmundson shared that when parents hold boundaries, it actually leads to fewer tantrums over time.

@cassiemomcoach Did you catch them all ? ⚡️ How to hold a boundary with your toddler. Positive discipline boundaries for toddlers.##toddlersoftiktok##parenting##raisingtoddlers##momsoftiktok##gentleparenting##toddlertips##toddlerboundaries##respectfulparenting101 ♬ original sound - Cassie | parent coach

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She maintains that a parent’s reaction to poor behavior is the most important part of navigating moments when kids are acting out. She advises parents to remain when setting boundaries, noting, “I know this can be harder if it’s a physical thing, like hitting, biting, scratching, pulling your hair, but your huge reactions… make the behavior worse.”

Gudmundson explained that parents have to help their young children listen to boundaries, “Give them a boundary one time, and then get up and help them be ready to help them follow the boundary, whether it’s removing them from the couch, taking the toy away, take the water bottle off their hands.”

She believes that parents also have to enforce “natural and logical consequences” if a boundary is crossed, like “removing the situation from them or removing them from the situation.”

kid lying on a bed Ketut Subiyanto / Pexels


Another crucial aspect of helping your kids respect boundaries is to allow for their emotions, even when they’re big.

Allow their emotions,” she said. “We are not going to try and distract them, tamp down their emotions, tell them they shouldn't be so upset. You get to set the boundary; they get to have their feelings about it, no matter if their feelings are mad, angry, frustrated… They’re allowed to have their feelings.”

“Especially when you set boundaries the first few times, if you let them express their feelings, not being unsafe… and validate those feelings, they’ll release it, and then it’ll be much easier next time.”

2. Overpraising for ordinary things

Another way that entitlement takes root in kids is when they’re offered extreme praise for completing ordinary tasks.


Supporting your kids and boosting their confidence are hugely important, but so is making sure they don’t have an inflated ego.

When your kid cleans their room, does their chores, or completes their homework, simply express your gratitude and let them know they did a good job without going over the top.

kid in bedroom Ketut Subiyanto / Pexels


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3. Solving all their problems for them

It’s a fairly common sentiment for parents to want to be their kids’ fixers. Whether it’s an issue at school or with another kid, a parent’s instinct is to step in and make it right.

Yet by not allowing kids to figure out how to problem-solve on their own, they, in turn, don’t develop a sense of independence or an inner well of resiliency.

@drbeckyatgoodinside So you don’t want to raise an entitled kid? I hear you. This is one of the most common concerns I hear from parents. Entitlement is the intolerance of uncomfortable feelings. Kids can’t “catch” entitlement, it’s up to us to teach them the skills they need to be able to tolerate difficult feelings. Here's the good news: We can turn daily interactions into valuable lessons designed to foster respect, kindness and frustration tolerance, instead of entitlement, in our kids. Want to learn how? I'm so excited to introduce my brand-new Guide for Avoiding Entitlement - now available within Gi Membership! Click the link in my bio for more. #entitlement #entitlementissues #spoiledkid #teachinggratitude #gratitude #sayingthankyou #manners #teachingkidsmanners ♬ original sound - Dr. Becky | Psychologist

When parents take on their kids’ problems, it sends a message that they aren’t responsible for their own behavior, which is a direct path to becoming an entitled adult.


4. Comparing them to other kids

When a parent tells their kid that they’re so much smarter, nicer, or prettier than other kids, they internalize this to mean that they’re superior and should receive special treatment.

Boosting your kid’s self-confidence shouldn’t come at the expense of other children.

Instead of telling kids how much better they are than someone else, parents should praise their kids based on their own individual achievements.

5. Not allowing them to lose

Another part of parenting that creates entitled kids is when you allow your kid to win every game, be the best at everything, or always succeed.


Let’s be real, losing isn’t fun even for us adults. A huge part of teaching kids how to lose gracefully is planning ahead, normalizing all the feelings that come up and having ongoing conversations about this concept. Books are a wonderful way to make this happen. Here are some of my favorites for this topic: 👉🏿Magical Yet by Angela DiTerlizzi 👉🏼I Can’t Do That, YET by Esther Cordova 👉🏽Winners Don’t Whine and Whiners Don’t Win by Julia Cook 👉🏾Sally Sore Loser by Frank J. Sileo 👉🏻Number One Sam by Greg Pizzoli

♬ original sound - Dr. Jazmine @TMP

Life isn’t fair, and letting kids navigate the smaller injustices on their own teaches them how to stand up to the larger ones.


Even Tom Brady, who’s won seven Super Bowls, believes in the power of letting his kids fail, telling his kids,  “I want you guys to fail because I want to see what you're made of if you fail, and when you fail, because life isn’t going to be just a smooth ride.”

Kids have to fail in order to win in the long run.

Counteracting entitled behavior starts with instilling a sense of empathy in kids from a young age.


brother kissing his little sister Anna Shvets / Pexels

Author Amy McCready, who wrote a book titled “The ‘Me, Me, Me,’ Epidemic: A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World,” shared guidance for parents seeking to form their kids into compassionate people.

"Just talking about 'How do you think that person is feeling?' is so important," she said. “It's a way of un-centering our kids' universe and getting them thinking outside of themselves."


The sooner kids realize that their needs aren’t always the most important and that other people have needs, too, the more likely they’ll be able to extend graciousness to the people around them.  

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers social issues, pop culture, and all things to do with the entertainment industry.