Thursday, March 20, 2008

Are you a BRAT? Are you raising one?

This article was run in The Seattle Times last week. And it hit a nerve with me. After reading it, I realized I can be a bit of a "brat" (gasp)...and worse yet, so can my children. How can we raise our children NOT to be brats when everything in our society screams "entitlement" at them?

Very interesting...

Are We Grown-up Brats?
By Dan Zak, The Washington Post

What has happened, even though companies are improving service, is that "customer expectations are continuing to rise," says Roger Nunley, managing director of the Customer Care Institute in Atlanta. This can be attributed to "consumers doing business online, where they get instant gratification and quick turnarounds. That's quickly becoming the standard expectation."

Change in expectations is a generational thing, experts say. People who grew up during the Depression were happy to have a job and stuck with one for a lifetime. Many members of generations X and Y were raised in a different light. They expect a buffet of opportunities and are peeved when they don't materialize.

Narcissism and entitlement among college students have increased steadily since 1979, according to a study to be published this year in the Journal of Personality. Between that year and 2006, 16,000 college students were asked to pick between such paired statements as "I expect a great deal from other people" and "I like to do things for other people," and "I will never be satisfied until I get all that I deserve" and "I will take my satisfactions as they come."

The data are clear: The ascent of narcissism and entitlement is dramatic.


"What we really have is a culture that has increasingly emphasized feeling good about yourself and favoring the individual over the group," says the study's co-author, Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University. "And that has happened across the board, culturally, and it's showing no signs of slowing down."

To complement her research, Twenge offers evidence from the field: "I have a 14-month-old daughter, and the clothing available to her has 'little princess,' or 'I'm the boss,' or 'spoiled rotten' written on it. This is what we're dressing our babies in."

Schools have programs designed to boost self-esteem. We're inundated with the notions of "feeling special," "believing in yourself" and "be anything you want to be." Twenge ponders all these messages in her book "Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled -- and More Miserable Than Ever Before" (Free Press, 2006). Twenge also coins the term "iGeneration" ("i" as in both iPod and "me, me, me"), which includes those born from roughly 1981 to 1999.

This goes beyond social conditioning and technology, though. Entitlement is part of human narcissism. When something goes wrong for others, it's their fault. When something goes wrong for us, we blame external forces.

This projection often antagonizes a situation. Feeling entitled to something you aren't getting leads to frustration, which leads to bratty behavior and confrontation. Nearly 80 percent of Americans say rudeness -- particularly behind the wheel, on cellphones and in customer service -- should be regarded as a serious national problem, according to a study by the opinion research firm Public Agenda.

An airport is a petri dish for rude behavior. "You have people screaming at customer representatives at airports because it's snowing out -- as if they're entitled to have a sunny day," says professor Keith Campbell, who specializes in the study of narcissism at the University of Georgia. "Yeah, there are certain times where we're entitled and other times we're not. The problem is when we have that meter wrong."

All this is tied to the feeling of not being satisfied, of thinking that some force is blocking the way to a goal we think we deserve. Read the rest here

Stop Lurking! Every week I will draw names for a free Tricia Goyer book from those who comment on my blogs. Winner's choice! Tell your friends.


At Thursday, 20 March, 2008, Blogger windycindy said...

Hi, I can totally identify with this article. Believing that I could be too positive with my sons, I would limit too much praise! Now, that they are older, I tend to give them more praise, but also let them realize that it will take work to get what they want in life. Thanks,Cindi

At Friday, 21 March, 2008, Anonymous Jklein said...

I see this all over! The rudeness. The expectations of the children that the adults will bend over backwards to do what they (the child) wants. And they are 4 or 5 years old.
I see it at work that many of my GenX co-workers are quick to look for another job when the going gets tough or they don't the the praise and $ they want. It's a part of my generation I wish would change.


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