In a world filled with social media apps featuring influencers and even the average person flaunting themselves and their lifestyles, it is easy to see how our teens can lose touch with what it means to be grateful and humble. It’s considered developmentally normal for teens to go through a phase of being self-absorbed and self-involved. The adolescent years tend to bring with them a sense of being self-involved.
Today, teens have instant access to countless resources and information. Taking for granted everything they have doesn’t always mean that your teens are ungrateful or completely self-absorbed. It may feel much like a cliché, but they live in a material world where they don’t necessarily appreciate their privileges.
Your teen may come across as self-centered or selfish when acting out, being rebellious against the rules, or making demands. They may neglect to thank you for all you do for them, and they may forget to show appreciation when they get the things they ask for. Your teen may act out and get resentful or angry if he feels you aren’t going above and beyond to make him happy.
Today’s parents work hard to provide for their families. Teens often underestimate just how much their parents do for them to give them stability, security, and emotional support.
You could call him out on his behavior. Or you could work to instill a sense of appreciation and gratefulness in him.
What might an ungrateful attitude look like in your teen?
There are a few signs that you may see in an ungrateful teen.
- Your teen never seems satisfied with what they are given.
- They compare what they have, or don’t have, to what their siblings or peers may or may not have.
- There is a sense of entitlement and a belief that they are owed something.
- Your teen may struggle to let go of things in the past and may also be bitter.
- They often play the victim card to manipulate and get their way.
- There is no room for the needs and feelings of anyone else in the family or in their life.
It may seem impossible to see your teen developing a mindset of gratitude. But there are several ways that you can help your teen be grateful, despite the self-obsessed world that we live in. Altering the mindset of an ungrateful teen can result in an increase in satisfaction, improved mood, and a sense of positive purpose.
Balancing his interests, needs, and gratitude
It would prove nearly impossible to ask your teen to change his behavior and attitude overnight. A good approach is to consider his interests and needs and determine how that can be balanced with a sense of gratitude. Does he enjoy playing video games? Does he just expect you to buy him new games when he wants them?
Offer him the ability to earn the money he will need to purchase what he wants. He could do extra chores around the house, get a part-time job, or volunteer his time to demonstrate his willingness to work for what he wants. The important part is that he learns he can’t just expect things but put in the effort to earn what he wants. This is one of the best ways to learn how to be thankful and appreciative of the things he gets.
Stay positive, keep a positive and upbeat attitude
It’s all too easy to get angry, frustrated, and defensive when dealing with an ungrateful and selfish child. While it’s understandable to feel that way, if your attitude and behavior towards your teen are upbeat, you are much more likely to see him positively responding to you.
- Give him credit where credit is due.
- Don’t shower him with compliments for every small accomplishment. Recognize them indeed, but don’t create unreasonably high expectations for him to succeed.
- When he demonstrates gratitude, don’t take a hard line about how he is showing it. It can take time to learn how to truly be grateful.
- Help him to understand the difference between privileges and rights. This means helping him understand the key differences between what he is entitled to as a child under your care and what is a privilege that is based upon life circumstances.
It’s not always going to be an easy and quick process to help your teen understand how he can learn to be grateful. It’s going to take work, on your part and his.
Another idea is to start a tradition of expressing gratitude every day. We talk about what we are grateful for at Thanksgiving, but we can express them daily. You could each write it on the family whiteboard in the kitchen or talk about it when you sit down together for dinner. Reminders of gratitude can help get everyone in the family to be appreciative of what they have.
In service to the community and others
Getting your teen involved with helping other people can serve as a reality check for their privilege. It can also empower them to establish and build on relationships with other people and learn to absorb the gratitude that they receive from those they help. Positive attitudes and appreciation can prove to be contagious.
Some of the places your teen may be able to be in service could include the following.
- Area animal shelters
- Care and nursing homes
- Church groups
- School, whether helping tutor others or peer guidance
The more opportunities your teen can find to help others, the more confidence he will have in himself. This can also help him to develop that sense of gratitude he needs. Working by his side can also help you model the behavior and appreciation you want to see in him.
If you need additional help with resources that can help your family get the help you need, reach out to HelpYourTeenNow. We can connect you with the right type of resources to help your out-of-control teen and your family.