A New York based firm met with a group of recent college graduates to talk about their careers. During the conversation, the potential employer asked the grads this question: What’s the one word HR execs use more than any other to describe the mindset of your generation? It begins with an “E.” Do you know what that word is?
The young twenty-somethings began thinking out loud. Some said Entrepreneurial. Others thought it was Energetic, while others felt it was Exciting or Entertaining.
None of the candidates guessed the correct answer: Entitled.
Some time ago, blogger Kristen Welch posted a simple and clear list of signs that young people are struggling with a sense of entitlement. Whether you’re a teacher, a coach, a parent, an administrator, a youth worker or an employer, these are signals you’ll want to keep your antennas up to spot:
1. I want it now. Kids are impatient, and who can blame them? We live in a drive-thru culture and, instant gratification is, well, instant. Often, we find ourselves living in fear of saying no because our children are used to getting what they want.
2. I don’t want to work for it. Why work when it can be given to you? It fosters a cycle of laziness and poor work ethic when we constantly give to our children without requiring any work. We need to create entry points starting at a young age for our children to contribute to household chores and jobs.
3. I don’t have to clean up my mess. We battle this one often. I’m learning to choose my wars. But I believe this is also responsible living. If you make a mess, you clean it up.
4. I want it because everyone else has it. My 7 year old has asked for an “Elf on the Shelf” every day this week. Why? Because she feels left out that many of her friends have one. And that’s awesome for them, but I don’t want that to be the focus of our season, and I honestly don’t have time or energy to create things for the stuffed animal to do. The bottom line for us: it’s okay for you not to have what everyone else has. I asked my daughter, “If everyone had a swimming pool, would you want one too?” She said yes. Clearly, we are working on this one.
5. I expect you to fix all my problems. I love to help my kids out. But there’s a fine line between helping and aiding bad behavior. If my child forgets their lunch everyday, yet I bring it to them anyway, there’s really not a reason for them to ever be responsible. My kids expected us to give them money for a gift for us. Instead, I found it the perfect chance to teach them about hard work and let them solve their own dilemma.
Talk to me. What other signs would you add to this list? What are you doing to curb a sense of entitlement in the students you lead?