Raising Thoughtful Kids in a Me-First World

The other day I was out shopping, and I was floored to hear how a youth about six or seven was talking to his mother. He didn’t get his way so he started pinching and kicking her. What! Some children seem to be uneducated when it comes to manners and respect for elders. They lack basic etiquette and don’t say please, thank you, or excuse me. In essence, we’re Raising Thoughtful Kids in a Me-First World!

Parents and kids are always presented with opportunities to be considerate and do kind things for others. But, the harsh reality is that many think only of themselves. We don’t have to look too far to see evidence of this fact everywhere we go, from aggressive drivers to crude language, to disregard of property, to explosive tempers. Kids mimic what they see and experience.

This me-first mentality may start in the home. Some parents may inadvertently initiate the seeds of a me-first spirit. How so? Some overindulge and cater to their child’s every demand while fearing or being reluctant to dispense any kind of discipline. We’ve all seen this. Kids will have a tantrum and parents will relent and cave into their demands. So how can we teach our children to be kind and avoid being negatively influenced by the thoughtless self-absorbed world they live in? There are many topics that could be covered; the list could go on forever, but let’s touch on three areas.

Overpraising – Adulation

Some children seem to have a sense of entitlement. How do they get this way? Some parents may feel that in order to build their children’s self-esteem they have to praise them for everything. If a little praise is good, more the better, right? Not really. Many parents go overboard with saturating unearned praise upon their children, even when they did nothing commendable. Each deed, no matter how insignificant, is greatly admired. On the other hand each folly, no matter how large, is overlooked.

These parents believed that the key to building self-confidence and self-esteem was to shut out and ignore their kid’s bad behavior and applaud everything else. They may erroneously believe that making their children feel good about themselves is far more important than teaching them values and ways to accomplish things that make them feel proud and accomplished. Some may also feel that showing any kind of disapproval will discourage their kids, but that’s not how life works. There is a difference between making kids feel bad about themselves as opposed to feeling bad about what they’ve done.

These kids grow up but don’t mature. They enter the job world with a distinct sense of entitlement. They have an arrogant attitude and expect instant success, even though they’ve done little to earn it. It’s a disturbing trend. Some assume that they will climb the ladder quickly, even without working and mastering their craft or trade. Others feel superior and that they deserve to be treated special, and then become dejected when they realize that the world does not share their view. Reality can be brutal sometimes.

Before our kids get humiliated in this selfish culture, we can decide to give our kids the need corrections and discipline and commendation them only when it is genuinely deserved. It’s not healthy to dole out praise just to make our children feel good about themselves.

Overprotecting – Coddling

While it’s only natural to want to protect your children, overprotecting them can send the wrong message; that they don’t need to take responsibility for their actions. Kids need to know that they may have to deal with pain and disappointment, and there are ways to handle it properly. If they don’t, children can grow up extremely self-centered and convinced that the world and their parents owe them big time.

What are some examples of overprotecting your kids? Parents may feel compelled to protect their children from any type of adversity, regardless of the intensity. Did your child fail to make the team? Some parents have intervened and demanded that the teacher put them on the team. Your kid received a traffic ticket, so you paid the fine for them. Did your child do something wrong, but you defend their innocence because they would never do anything like that? Seriously? How about a reality check?

What can we do as parents? First, we need to take into account the maturity level of our children. If they receive a traffic ticket, it might be best to let them pay the fine out of their allowance or salary. If they didn’t make the team, then perhaps they need to practice more with you or a friend. If they’ve done something wrong, they need to learn to own up and make it right. Kids who work through their problems the right way build self-confidence and the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. These are assets kids will not develop if someone is constantly rescuing them. If your kids are struggling with something, talk to them and help them work it out.

Overproviding – Spoiling

Some children may be raised in materialistic families, so they expect to get what they want. Parents want to make their children happy, and children want stuff, lots of stuff. The trouble is the happiness only lasts so long, then they want more stuff. Of course, companies know this and eagerly exploit the situation with phrases like, ‘you deserve the best, you’re worth it, be the first to own, hurry they’re flying off the shelf, or image how good you’ll look. These messages have encouraged parents and young people alike, to buy, buy, buy and land in debt. Now they can’t pay for the things they ‘deserve.’ Kids may feel that things and money are far more important than kindness and being a genuine person.

So what can we do? We need to examine your own attitude toward money and the stuff it can buy. Get our priorities straight, and help our kids do the same. Be balanced and buy one item at a time. Encourage kids to shop for sales and save up for a special item. When they invest in an item, they appreciate and value it much more. They also need to understand that being thankful for gifts shows gratitude.

Kids learn from us by our conduct. If we show respect, gratitude, kindness, and gentleness toward people, animals, and property, our kids will follow our pattern.


  • Your points are very well thought out and articulated.
    I especially agree with “Overpraising “. It’s a virtue in our society to be proud of yourself and what you do, while in reality that’s not going to work out well.

  • You are so correct in saying kids mimic what they see and experience,i am sure shocked many shopping days to see how some kids act honest to goodness it totally floors me when i see a 7/8 year old kicking and screaming on the floor cause he cant have something he wants……what happening,actually its scary.

  • I comes from parents. I will not put up with attatude from my kids. But I also respect them and expect the from them. My daughter is the most respectful child I could have wished for . She even thanks me for every meal which is something she started on her own.

  • My children are adults not and like all children i had to have a firm hand in dealing with them and teach them from young to respect themselves and others.

  • My children,adults now where taught how to manage their money how to shop for sales,use coupons.They could cook a meal ,bake bread and knew how to bottle and can food correctly.We need to pass down what we have learned to our children,times have changed so much over these pass years its actually scary.

  • If your child has a tantrum and you relent and cave into their demands they have won and its hard to gain control again.

  • I try to live my life in a way similar to the 14 rules of Karma and have done my best to pass the lessons along to my children family and friends.

  • I grew up old school and have tried to do my best teaching the ways to my children and i see one of these respectful ways are showing thru in my grandkids.

  • I believe in today World its too much about material things…kids have way too much.When i was young i had to earn things.

  • I tried to teach my kids that material things are not important they come and go but family and friends are most important

  • This is such a great post, thank you so much for sharing! 🙂 Being a parent is hard, but being a good example and always being positive helps me out daily.

  • It our kids don t know the basic etiquette and say please, thank you, or excuse me….we as parents are not doing our job correctly.

  • Aggressive drivers with no thought at all who flip you the finger ….i feel so sad for their kids because they are passing it on to them

  • I agree with you 100%. Children are like sponges. They soak up the attitudes and emotions that are in their home. Parents who are considerate, fair, generous and kind, do their children a great service.
    I remember my Mother seating a ‘homeless man’ at the dining room table. This was only for special people and special occasions. She treated him with utmost respect. I was only five or so at the time. I was hiding under my bed, because I was afraid of the way he looked. I never forgot the way my Mother treated him. She was always courteous and expected us to be the same-especially to our elders.

  • Out shopping in the Malls i have seen kids often pinching and kicking their parents when they cant get what they want….i just dont understand why they dont leave with the child.

  • You have to start early. I noticed a toddler on the floor at a local store. His Mom was pleading with him to get up. All she really had to do was to tell him that she was walking away and he should come as well. I do not mean she should abandon him-Just take a few steps away. I would say he would be on his feet in an instant. The other alternative would be to pick him up and take him to the car;
    I have had some experience with tantrums and it is far easier to nip in the bud than when it becomes a bad habit.

  • Years ago, I read a book by Dr.Haim Ginnott -a psychologist. His theme was to treat other people as you would like to be treated yourself.(sound familiar?)
    He suggested family councils where everyone had input. I started this and was astonished at the results. It was the children and myself as Dad was a busy farmer, working 12 or more hours a day.
    In these councils, all were encouraged to have their day and the remainder were asked to provide solutions. There were lots of tears and emotions the first time.
    I knew it was working when they held one without me.
    The result was that the children knew I was always available to them. I might not agree with them but they could say how they felt and we would work toward a compromise if this was possible.
    I think we all know the value of being able to say what we think and feel. It gives a relief and freedom that is translated into :” My opinion matters and everyone knows how I feel.”
    Courtesy and kindness were essential to all the above.

  • I think every child has a tantrum at one time or another but i believe you have to address it right away not after they have been doing it for years.Its much easier to train a toddler than a preteen/teen

  • I really believe all adults have a responsibility to the children in our Community. As much as we can, we can show good example by our courteous and kindness to them when we have occasion to interact with them. There is a saying: “Don’t talk to me; your actions are so loud, I cannot hear what you are saying.” ( or words to that effect- our actions speak much louder than our words.)

  • I realize that over complimenting children will not help them in the long run. However it is important, especially when bullying seems to be so rampant, that your child builds a really good self image of herself, himself.
    I hope parents may achieve this by having a positive attitude and passing this on to their children-that they may accomplish their goals with determination, attitude and the will to do so.

  • I think some children seek attention because they do not feel secure. I really feel that Mom or Dad should be with children until they are of school age. This gives them a feeling of security and stability that remains with them, if all other positive attitudes are also in the home. I see a big difference in the children I taught years ago and in the present. Other Teachers comment on this as well.

  • All in all, basically, it comes down to the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If parents and other adults lived this rule as best they can, children would emulate them in most cases-especially as they see the results. We all want to be loved and to feel special. There is no better way, in my opinion, to raise compassionate and responsible children than the true practise of this rule.

  • When it comes to kids, it’s never “Me”: first. I have to let them be first most of the time, unless it isn’t the right way in the first place.

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