Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD

Search This Site

Why Your Teen Is So Ungrateful

"My daughter doesn't appreciate anything I do for her!"  Have you ever said something like that?  If so, you may need a wake-up call...

Over-indulged teenagers are not born, they are created.  Moms and dads create teenagers that are over-indulged by giving them an over-abundance of what they want, but don’t need. However, it’s not always the material things that lead to over-indulgence.  It may be a permissive parental approach in which the youngster is allowed to read things that are not age-appropriate.  It might also be over-permissive and over-protective parenting of the youngster (e.g., doing everything for the teen in a protective manner). 

Overindulging is:
  • a form of child neglect; it hinders teenagers from performing their needed developmental tasks, and from learning necessary life lessons
  • doing or having so much of something that it does active harm, or at least prevents a youngster from developing and deprives that youngster of achieving his or her full potential
  • giving a disproportionate amount of family resources to one or more children in a way that appears to meet the teenager's needs but does not, so they experience scarcity in the midst of plenty 
  • giving teenagers things or experiences that are not appropriate for their age or their interests and talents
  • giving teenagers too much of what looks good, too soon, too long
  • the process of giving things to teenagers to meet the adult's needs, not the teen’s

 ==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

Recent research finds that over-indulged teenagers were likely to grow up to become “externals” rather than “internals.”  “Externals” want to become rich and super wealthy, to become famous, to achieve a unique look and have a deep need to have people comment on how attractive they are.

“Internals” want to grow and learn new things, to be able to look back on their life as meaningful and with satisfaction.  They also want to share life with someone and have a committed intimate relationship.  “Internals” want to work to make the world a better place and to help people in need.

Teens who are over-indulged tend to grow-up to be oppositional.  This is of course frustrating for the parent, and it’s rather sad as well.  Parents want their youngster to be happy, and they want what’s best for him or her, but the more parents try, the more things turn out badly because their efforts are misguided.

Amazingly, it’s counter-intuitive. The more the parent gives to the youngster, the more he or she wants and is ungrateful. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle. If the parent takes a stand, usually the youngster knows, “If I get mad, my mother will give-in.” In that regard, it can be quite a challenge for the parent to finally stand firm after years of over-indulging.  

Over-indulgence can be in terms of the relationship (e.g., moms and dads acting as “friends” as opposed to a parent).  Also, emotionally there’s a tendency to be overly doting and emotionally intrusive with the teen.  All of which tends to develop the tendency in the son or daughter to respond with anger, resentment, over-inflated self-esteem, as well as a loss of compassion for others. 

The youngster grows up with a sense of entitlement.  They develop this perspective not only regarding the relationship with their moms and dads, but that the world should give them all the things they want.  This can lead to having problems with friendships and, later, with dating and maintaining meaningful relationships. 

Moms and dads created the problem usually by having any number of irrational beliefs. For example:
  • in order to make the youngster happy, they must give her everything she wants
  • their youngster cannot be punished
  • they cannot implement any consequence that involves discomfort
  • they cannot subject their youngster to any sense of pain or discomfort

Of course, this is contrary to what happens in the real world.  Teenagers need to be disciplined appropriately and learn from their misbehavior and mistakes through logical consequences.  In the absence of such discipline, much of the time you will end up with a youngster who is oppositional and defiant. 

Another irrational belief of moms and dads, which is targeted in treatment, is this tendency toward unconditional positive regard. Of course, such admiration and love is wonderful; however, these moms and dads will demonstrate such positive regard no matter the behavior of the youngster. Moreover, these parents see “love” as “giving” to the youngster and not carrying out discipline.  These parents tend to rationalize and “look the other way” rather than discipline. 

The extent of “over-indulging” a youngster is on a continuum. Most teenagers are, at times, demanding and ungrateful. If moms and dads respond accordingly, then their son or daughter can move toward appreciation and cooperation. However, if such behavior is tolerated, or “indulged,” then demanding and ungrateful tendencies can worsen.

Parents can begin a “change process” by changing their irrational beliefs, which then fuels the parent making the necessary changes in discipline of their youngster. The important thing is “balance” between “giving” and “discipline.” It’s important for moms and dads to not feel guilty for not giving their teens everything they want. In that regard, a frequently repeated motto is that “parents should give teenagers everything they need, but only a small portion of what they want.”  Moms and dads need help to understand that, by giving everything, the youngster only becomes more resentful rather than grateful.

==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

Ways parents can change habits of overindulging:
  1. “No” means “No.”
  2. Attach good and clear thinking to your teenager’s emotions. 
  3. Counter your teenager’s manipulation where you feel guilty by simply practicing saying “I won’t get that for you, but I have a way you can earn it!”   
  4. Do not soothe your teenager’s painful emotions with gadgets and luxuries.  Sooth them with your calm presence, voice and tenderness. 
  5. Hold onto your better judgment and avoid thinking, “I know I shouldn’t have done such and such…”  Stop your own unhealthy sway of emotions. 
  6. Let the emotional sting of discipline happen. The emotional sting has a lesson. 
  7. More than discipline, you should guide your teenagers to make amends. 
  8. One television per household creates better family gatherings.  Research indicates that teenagers who have TV’s in their room spend less time with family and friends.
  9. Over-indulgence is an impulsive act.  So, slowly contemplate how to respond to your teenager’s misbehavior, guilt trips, etc. 
  10. Parenting is not a popularity contest!  Want to create a living hell for yourself?  Become a buddy to your teenagers.  They don’t need a friend in a parent – they need a mentor.  Parent-child friendship is for later.
  11. Take time to help your teenagers manage difficult emotional times. 
  12. Whatever the consequence, consider ¼ time off for good behavior.


==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents


Unknown said...

This article is extraordinary!

Unknown said...

Hi and I'm glad I read this ,im at my ends with my 15 YR old and a lot of it made sence I really want to give up and hard to understand ,but yes I have over done it and let her get over on me, She has a male best friend that she grew up with since Jr high and the mother was always inviting her to go places that I didn't think we're appropriate and I felt because he's, a boy she's a girl and so on normal but really the mom always got mad if I said no and at the time I had a lot more control And I stood my ground had let him Stay over but so I can watch them and it was never a issue until the mom wanted her over there and would constantly tell her to keep asking to it became a issue and lying and hideing things about where or when they would go and bring her bk so it went on for a awhile a lot of times she get mad and she was ok but when I lost my place it was more and more pushing me to go every where the mom begin to show a lot of bitterness and would get mad and have her lie or make her think it was ok to lie to get away and it became a lot worse when she would spend the night it became a every weekend, thing And it bothered me and yes I felt I needed to give her space but there was no communication with this lady she would always have her ask me never approuched me herself unless she really had to she is very controlling and jealous that she don't want anyone to come between them too her son is a only child And is now in high school they go to school together And only seem to have each other I'm hurt cause I've tried to prevent this And now she is over there now and that lady is keeping me away filed for custody and I Dont want to hurt her but she Dont want to come with me now she won't budge it's either I take by force or I let her go because she's gotten a hold of her more And more I know I got weak And guilt has messed with me thru a lot of my younger days but how do I get her back the lady brain washes her with trips to expensive places Abd she, has no other friends outside that boy And I want her to enjoy life but the lady is telling her I'm trying to take her away from her son who all he knows is her no life but her and it's killing me That she Domt care about me she cares about them .help me please

D Perez said...

Hi Barbara I'm sorry that you experience this w this woman over stepping her place. Your the mom never feel guilty for that. You have to keep your daughter safe even if it's from her own likes. This woman has no business behaving the way she does. I would pray ask God and his Angels to help you and get your daughter back under your wing. Cut this woman out of your life. I don't know how long ago you wrote this but I pray you are doing well

D Perez said...

Praying for you and your daughter keep in mind you don't have to please this other woman's demands you are in charge ..pray for strength and guidance

WorshipersHeart said...

This was exactly what I needed to read. My 15 yr old daughter is absolutely lovely 75% of the time, but when that 25% of nasty comes out, it is HORRIBLE. We've just had a long process of therapy where she was going every day after school and has now been graduated to once a week therapy. 6 months ago she was 25% pleasant and 75% hell on wheels, so we are making great progress and I dont want to focus on the negative. Some days are harder than others, and I accept that I created this demanding, entitled side of her. I wanted so much to make up for her father's absence that I would take her shopping and stuff like that. It became an entitlement and she still pushes the envelope sometimes. I took everything away from her for 2 months, what she hated the most was her phone being gone. She's learning. Thx for a great article!

Anonymous said...

Hi there, my daughter is 18 and in a relationship with a guy who is 9 years older than her. She is in university and working part time. We find the guy is not a good influence, spending more than he earn, vape, room is always untidy and sometimes doesn't answer our calls when he is upset with my daughter. We noticed that my daughter is being influenced by all he is doing and now decided to move out and stay with him. They also quarrel a lot but my daughter is still holding on because she think he is the right one for her. We help her as much as we can by sometime paying her petrol, allowance, cleaning her room, washing her car, dishing, etc. She is also diagnosed with bipolar disorder and currently on medication. Due to her mental health issue, we are very careful when we talk to her bug it seems like she is taking advantage on us. She used to make cards and buy flowers for mother's day or DIY birthday presents for us, but now she doesn't at all. The only thing she does is send us a text message. Can you please give us some advice how to handle her? Thanks

Contact Form


Email *

Message *