Amy McCready, a Raleigh mom, admits to this: She's a "former yeller."
But she eventually found better ways to parent her own children. Now she's helping other parents get rid of that "yeller" label as founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and a Today show contributor. She offers coaching and a variety of free webinars.
Her new book, "“The ‘Me, Me, Me’ Epidemic: A Step-By-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World," comes out this week. McCready will share parenting advice during a book signing at 7 p.m., Thursday, at Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh.
Anybody who pre-orders her book by Sunday, Aug. 16, will get free coaching from McCready. There's more information on her website.
McCready answers some questions about her new book, parenting and more.
Q: You are the mother to two teenage sons. So we must ask – did your kids struggle with entitlement?
Amy McCready: Yes, of course! I think all parents raising kids today worry that their kids have a bit of the entitlement bug. None of us intend to raise entitled kids. It happens little by little in the name of love – we do things for them they are perfectly capable of doing for themselves, we rescue them when they should learn from their mistakes, we over-indulge them with wants rather than needs, we put them at the center of our world – which leads them to think the rest of the world revolves around them. I’ve made all of these mistakes – just like most parents. The good news is … whether you have toddlers or teens, whether you have a mild case of the entitlement bug or a full-blown epidemic – the 35 simple to use tools in this book will help you turn that around.
Q: When did kids become so entitled? What do you think is the root cause (or causes) behind this “entitlement epidemic”
AM: While entitlement isn’t a real “disease,” it seems to have hit epidemic proportions in the past few decades. The entitlement epidemic usually begins with over-parenting – over-indulging, over-protecting, over-pampering, over-praising, and jumping through hoops to meets kids endless demands. Today’s generation of parents are overly invested in their child’s happiness, comfort and success.
Overly involved parents helicopter over their kids’ every move and mow down the potential obstacles in their path. In our attempt to shelter our kids from adversity, we rob them of the opportunity to make decisions, learn from their mistakes, and develop the resilience needed to thrive through the ups and downs of life. This is all done in the name of love – but too much of a good thing can result in kids who always expect to get what they want when they want it. Over-parented kids begin to believe the world revolves around their needs and wants and the seeds of entitlement are sown.
Q: What are some key signs that a parent might have an entitlement problem in their household?
AM: You might have a entitlement problem if your child:
- Expects bribes or rewards for good behavior
- Rarely lifts a finger to help
- Is more concerned about himself than others
- Passes blame when things go wrong
- Can’t handle disappointment
- Needs a treat to get through the store
- Expects to be rescued from his mistakes
- Feels like the rules don’t apply
- Constantly wants more…more…MORE!!!
Sound like a child you know? In truth, there’s not a child alive who doesn’t exhibit some of these symptoms from time to time. Whether you’ve got a big entitlement outbreak at your house or only a minor case, the tools in The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic will help you move your kids toward greater independence, responsibility and contentment.
Q: Raising entitled children (and an entitled generation) can be problematic on many levels – what are some of the key issues that both parent and child will have to deal with in the long run if left to their entitled ways?
AM: Pampering kids – doing things for them they should be doing themselves, or over-indulging them with “stuff” can be temporary fixes to ease short-term aggravation, but we are doing a monumental disservice to kids in the long run. Kids who have their whims catered to by their parents and a path paved for success come to believe the world revolves around them. (And why wouldn’t they, when everywhere you turn you see a selfie?) Kids who feel entitled to call the shots all the time are unable to handle it when things don’t go their way (like in the real world.) What’s more, they’re just plain hard to live with!
Entitlement isn’t just a problem in our homes; it’s a societal problem as well. Teachers and coaches report that students expect to get A’s for C effort and a starting position on the team just for showing up. When the test doesn’t go well, the “teacher doesn’t like me” or the “test was unfair.” Friendships and relationships suffer as kids with a “me, me, me” mentality lack empathy and a willingness to put others first. Employers struggle to hire teens and young adults with the people skills and work ethic to be successful. The bottom line is that entitled kids will one day grow into narcissistic adults, demanding spouses and high-maintenance employees. That’s certainly not what we want for our kids!
Q: The digital age certainly presents parents with some new challenges that their parents never had to deal with. How do you suggest parents deal with the onslaught of social media, screens, apps, and devices that are developing selfie-taking, self-obsessed attitudes, cyberbullying, and anti-social behavior?
AM: Kids today are the first generation to grow up in the digital age so it is unchartered territory for all of us. To set our kids up for success, we must set a good example ourselves. If kids see that technology rules our lives and interrupts our face-to-face connection – it will be hard to place limits on them. Remind your kids that access to technology and social media is a privilege, not a right. Be sure to Take Time for Training so kids can be successful online and then establish family rules and appropriate consequences for access to technology. Be sure your kids know they are valued for their real-life contributions, not by their number of followers. Talk early and often about the dangers of cyber bullying. Use real-life social media posts from them or others to teach about empathy. Recognize that kids will make mistakes as they navigate technology and social media. Use those mistakes as learning opportunities so they can make better decisions next time.