Teenagers need to learn they are not entitled to possessions, friendships or undivided attention, and a kind, loving parental approach can help a teen recognize and appreciate all she has. Community involvement and a good dose of responsibility can help an older teen mature into a young adult -- who can develop a sense of gratitude and learn to see beyond herself.
Help your daughter change her ungrateful attitude by refusing to overindulge her. At 18, parents can expect their daughter to have a greater concern for others, become more self-reliant and pursue goals to further her purpose in life, according to the Texas Children's Pediatric Association. Eighteen-year-olds who feel entitled and expect money, possessions, friendships and respect to come easily, without having to work for or earn them, need tough love. Set house rules and calmly, yet firmly, reinforce them, suggests psychologist and family therapist Mark Hutten, on his website, Online Parenting Coach. You might say, "I expect you to get a job to pay for your car insurance," or "I will pay your college tuition if you keep up your grades."
Model thankfulness every day and show appreciation for the things you have. Gratitude breeds more gratitude, so the more your teenager sees you express thankfulness, the more she'll do the same. By setting a good example, and modeling a general attitude of thankfulness, you set the stage for your daughter's future behavior. During the teen years, your daughter might not have expressed gratitude the way you hoped, but the values you ingrained in her will resurface in time, according to psychologist and expert on adolescent behavior, Michael Bradley, in his book "Yes, Your Teen is Crazy."
Nurture Community Involvement
Encourage your daughter to get involved in the community, so she sees the world outside of her own little bubble. Parents can expect their older teen to participate in community events, teach small programs or hold important roles in decision-making groups, according to Michigan State University Extension. When teenagers have a strong sense of community and feel part of something bigger than themselves, it produces gratitude, suggests Giacomo Bono, a professor at Cal State Dominguez Hills, according to National Geographic News Watch. Help your daughter get involved with soup kitchens, animal shelters, community events, religious organizations, thrift stores and fundraisers, so she learns to help others instead of thinking only of herself.
Guide your teenage daughter into adulthood by encouraging her to take on grown-up responsibilities, such as paying her own bills. Think of your adult child as a guest in your home, not a child under your care, suggests behavioral therapist, James Lehman in "Empowering Parents." Don't give into her pleas and tears when she plays the role of the victim and doesn't carry her weight of responsibility. By not holding her accountable, she'll likely become more ungrateful and selfish, Lehman says. Talk to your daughter about the adult-level expectations you have for her -- financially and emotionally -- and hold her accountable.
- Dr. Michael J. Bradley: Yes, Your Teen is Crazy; 2002
- National Geographic News Watch: The psychology of What Makes Teens Thankful
- Empowering Parents: The Secret to Understanding Acting-Out Behavior -- 5 Common Thinking Errors Kids Make
- Online Parenting Coach: Why Your Teen Is So Ungrateful
- Empowering Parents: Rules, Boundaries and Older Children Part I
- Texas Children's Pediatric Association: Normal Development -- Late Adolescence (18 to 20 Years Old)
- Michigan State University Extension:18- to 19-year-olds: Ages and Stages of Youth Development
- Photo Credit moodboard/moodboard/Getty Images
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