Click HERE for “Part 1: Mean, Spoiled, Entitled No More: How to Transform Your Teen/Child Into a Caring, Mature, Responsible Young Adult.”
Sara: Mean, Spoiled, Entitled
Sara is tired. She had a hard soccer practice. She is now lying on the living room couch, playing on her phone.
She doesn’t help with dinner, but arrives to the dining table when called, and eats dinner with her family. As usual, she doesn’t speak much during the meal, nor does she help with dishes. After she is done eating, she gets up, tells her dad that she has to study for a biology test tomorrow, and heads to her bedroom.
Sara spends her entire evening in her room Snapchatting, Instagramming and watching Netflix until 2:00 am. She didn’t study. She had a full day but has used less than 50 words when speaking to her family. Her parents completely trust her with her phone and there is no Phone Contract or Chore Chart in her home.
The next day she gets up at 6:00 am for school. He father gently asks her, “How did the studying go?” A very tired Sara lies and says, “Fine.”
Enabling Parental Reaction:
Dad looks on the school’s grade website and sees that Sara earned a D- on her test, dropping her grade to a D. The next day after her soccer practice, Dad approaches Sara on the couch, asks her to put her phone down so he can speak with her. He gives Sara a pep-talk. He tells her he is concerned about Sara’s grades and her screen-use.
Sara responds, “Biology is hard, Dad! I’m doing my best!”
Dad relents and walks away. Nothing is done. Sara never fully experiences consequences of her poor habits, attitude and grades. She continues to live life on her own terms: her phone time, her lies and avoidance of emotional connection to her family. She continues with her competitive soccer team and lives with zero boundaries or restrictions on her phone.
Soon, Sara will have her driver’s license and her family will see even less of her.
Parental Message to the Child:
-Sara’s soccer schedule is a top priority in this family. She needs rest because soccer is important.
-Sara’s friends are more important than her family. She needs ample time to connect with friends. Since her friends are online and on her phone, she needs a lot of online time.
-This family doesn’t need Sara to help with chores or with dinner because the purpose of this family is to support Sara’s hobbies and her friendships.
-Sara’s school is not a high priority. Sara is learning self-disciple is not important in this family. Although Dad’s verbal words communicate these priorities, his silent/passive actions speak louder than his words.
-Sara can never lose trust in this family. No matter how poorly Sara performs in school, how withdrawn she becomes, how screen addicted she becomes, her parents trust her 100%. Sara is allowed to live the life she wants to live, and her parents are there to support her chosen lifestyle.
Sara has Become a Mean, Spoiled, Entitled Kid.
An Alternative Approach That Will Foster Maturity and Empathy:
Dad approaches Sara on the couch and asks her to put her phone down.
Dad: Sara, I need to have a serious talk with you. Is this a good time? It’s good for me. OK, let’s talk.
Sara, I am hurting very much. I am concerned about you. I would like you to please just listen to what I need to say, then we’ll discuss after I am done. OK?
I need to do a better job at helping you set and live by adult-like priorities.
Sara, I feel disturbed by your grades. Your grades reflect that you are lying to me about studying. This is your character. This concerns me because I want to raise you to value your integrity and your character. Your choice to lie also hurts my feelings and hurts our relationship deeply.
Your grades communicate a message to me. The message is that you care more about soccer, your friends and your phone than you do about your grades. I don’t want to lose trust in you. But it’s starting to happen.
I know your friends and soccer are important to you. They are both good for you. You need them. We want you to have them. But you also need to realize you have responsibilities in this family. We are a team and you need to do your part.
Sara, I don’t like how much time you spend on your phone. I get it. Phones are fun and a great way of connecting with friends. I love my phone too. But Sara, I am concerned that you are living too much of your life through that screen, and not living your life with real people, especially the people that love you more than anyone—your family.
I feel that I can no longer trust you to make wise decisions on your phone and the screens in your life, and I want that to change.
Sara, because I love you, I am going to intervene in your life and help you by setting some boundaries, limits and natural consequences for you.
I have decided that I can no longer passively sit back and watch you live your life like this. I feel that I have been enabling this lifestyle for too long and I don’t want to do it anymore.
This is not a punishment. I am parenting you. This is my job.
Sara, here’s what I need you to do:
1) Your heart and your attitude towards our family needs to improve. I want to help with this. You are not the only one who needs to change. Our family needs to change. This is not just about you.
2) Work to bring your grades up. I don’t want to see any D’s. I know you can do much better. Your grades reflect that you are not trying in school anymore. If we don’t see progress in your grades within the next two weeks, you will have to quit soccer. We don’t want this to happen.
We are not going to control you. You are free to go watch hours of tv, to go out with friends, and do what you want, but if your grades don’t improve, you won’t be getting the many privileges you are used to, starting with soccer.
3) Starting today, I have a Phone Contract that I need you to agree to. It says you will agree to use your phone apps for just 30 minutes a day, for the next two months. I will use this app MMGuardian to set the time from 7:00 to 7:30 pm for you to use your apps. Before you can use the phone, we will all try to have more conversation at the dinner table. You will help with the dishes. Then get to your homework. If you want help, just ask. I won’t get involved unless you ask.
4) Starting today, you will have to do your homework on the PC downstairs. My job as a parent is to make sure you have a quiet study area with a computer and a printer.
5) This is your new chore chart. If you get these things done, we will consider giving you more time for your favorites activities. We just need to see a balance. This family is a team, and every member must do their part.
5) Lastly, this is the most important—Sara, I miss you. The whole family misses you. You are here but you’re not here. We want to spend more time with you. We want to talk with you during family dinners. I want to see you smile. I want to go on adventures with you. I want to see you spending time with your family, talking, playing games, laughing, and sharing life. It is my job as a parent to help make this happen.
So Sara, when you have shown me that I can trust you, that your life is not your phone, and that you care more about this family and your school work than you do your phone or Netflix, I will give you your freedoms back.
Of course, Sara doesn’t handle this news well. Her life has just been turned upside down.
Over the next two weeks Sara is hurting. She is reaping what she has sown. She misses Netflix, Instagram and Snapchat. She feels awkward doing chores and helping with dinner.
By the third week, her grades are up to C’s or better. She starts noticing that she is feeling emotionally better.
She makes dinner with her mom. She goes on hikes with her dad. She laughs with her siblings. Instead of Netflix, she is doing her homework. She feels good doing chores. She calls friends and asks them to hang out, in person.
Sara doesn’t say it at first, but she feels thankful that her dad intervened in her life like this. She can now clearly see how her screen life was not a real life. She likes real life more.
Months later, Sara is a new person.
Sara is being raised to become a Mature, Caring, Responsible, Young, Adult.
Scott: Mean, Spoiled, Entitled
Scott forgets to bring his lunch to school. He texts his mom and asks her to bring it. This is the fifth time that he has forgotten his lunch this year, and his mom is frustrated. His mom texts back that she can’t bring a lunch because she has a gym class she attends at that time. He texts back, “Don’t be mean mom! PLEASE, I WILL BE STARVING!!!”
She decides to skip her gym class and drives his lunch to school. She drops it off at the office counter where the lunch drop-offs go. Scott never sees his mom do this, so he can not thank her in person.
He texts her “Thanks mom.” In the car ride home after school, mom gives Scott a pep talk, the same pep talk she has given five times, about the importance of bringing his lunch to school. He forgets again next week.
Parental Message To Child :
-Mommy will bail Scott out when he doesn’t do what he is expected to do. It’s ok for Scott to be forgetful and careless and not take responsibility, because mom will always bail him out.
-Scott’s personal comfort and priorities are more important than his mother’s.
-Scott’s mom is there to be his servant in times of need.
Scott Has Become a Mean, Spoiled, Entitled Kid.
An Alternative Approach That Will Foster Maturity and Empathy:
Mom replies to Scott with this text:
After receiving this text, three things have occurred inside of Scott.
- He is hungry at school! He experiences the pain of his careless actions.
- Scott now puts mental energy into bringing his lunch to school.
- Scott understands that his mother is not his personal servant nor his backup plan. Scott better understands that in all of life, his choices will affect him, so choose wisely and carefully.
Scott is being raised to become a Mature, Caring, Responsible, Young, Adult.
I hope you found these three scenarios helpful.
Note that in each of these situations:
-There was no punishment, just natural consequences.
-The parents regulated their own emotions. They did not act out of anger or malice.
-The parents expressed their emotion effectively.
-The parents responded with empathy and emotional connection. That taught EQ: Emotional intelligence by modeling it and asking for it. They understood that emotional connection is the blood that keeps every relationship healthy.
Click HERE for more articles on how to be close with your teen/child.
How we help teens and parents:
Sean Donohue Family Coaching provides coaching and mentoring to hurting and defiant teenagers and we show parents how to restore love, order and communication to their family.
If your family is hurting or struggling with communication or defiance, we would love to partner with you and help you to restore love and communication in your home. We come to you. We don’t want or need “an office.” We connect with teens while doing activities they enjoy doing and meet with families in their homes.