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Hmmm...that is a hard one to crack. A sense of entitlement is everywhere in our society nowadays.

My sister & I were lucky, during the preteen years (10-13)we lived in Africa (our parents were missionaries) & as such weren't exposed to lots of stuff plus saw people with WAY less than us as well. Nothing like seeing people with missing noses from leprosy begging to put stuff in perspective. And we didn't miss all the "things" either, even later on once we were stateside.

I don't know the answer. I will keep you in my prayers though as this is a toughie! And it needs to be nipped in the bud now vs. later. You are a good parent. You know your child best & what will or won't work once you have some options on what to do.

A friend has kids with RAD which includes a lack of empathy as part of their problems. She might have some recommendations for you. Christine's blog is www.welcometomybrain.net . She's a part of the #momspotting team on blogher too.


Maybe it's the age-old "do onto others as you would have them do onto you" thing... I'm guessing this child doesn't experience the same treatment back, so maybe it would be a good lesson? I just remember growing up, if anything bad were to happen, my parents would always say, "now how would you like it if ___ did this to YOU?" And made me think about it. I'm not saying this will work, but that's what sticks out in my mind as I'm reading this.

Another thing that popped into mind was- Birth Order Theory. Depending on birth order, there are certain traits we exhibit. Maybe something to look into? Even if it's just for entertaining the thought which might lead to an idea how to handle the situation.

Jenn E

A taste of his/her own medicine? Have them volunteer at a soup kitchen/homeless shelter???

That's a toughie!


Oh man -- first of all, I appreciate your willingness to share this with us. It can't be an easy thing for a mother to see or admit to. My heart hurt for you when I read this because it has got to be such a hard thing to come to terms with. Having said that, you should try to remember that this can be dealt with. It doesn't mean that he/she will never have empathy for others. Unfortunately, I don't have any great advice -- I just wanted to give you some support. From all I have read on your site, you ARE a great mother and you will do what is within your power to help him/her.


Still sorry about dishwasher_ uggh! At least it wasn't the toilet seat :( Egads on the thermostat- the heat in our house is so dry at night, I wake up feeling like my eyeballs & nosehairs are fried and going to drop out. Hence, I am up at 1:56 & on computer.

In a former life, I was a school counselor & would say it is not uncommon for kids of that age to lack empathy. I really think part of it comes from having the good fortune to have had a good life. I agree with the suggestion for some volunteer work, perhaps at a Children's Hospital, nursing home, crisis center. Catholic Charities prob has a list of resources & everything in our diocese is so well supervised these days.I assume it is similar everywhere. I know time & travel are issues with a busy house like yours , so another option might be some bibliotherapy with some books about other cultures, Holocaust, etc. I think I am rambling, I apologize, Most likely it is an annoying stage that will pass.He/ she has been raised in a good home by loving parents who provide for his/her needs. He/ she has had luxury ,as most of our kids have, of being able to expect her/his needs to be met. Your values are in her/his mix and will rise to the surface.


I really think it has a lot to do with being a teenager. Showing examples of those with less and highlighting people who think of others before themselves will all be good but sometimes it just takes some maturing.

I agree with the above comment that says you are a good mom. Don't beat yourself up.


It is so nice to see that I am not the only one who went through this, so thank you for posting it. bryant went through the same thing and one day after I grew tired of listening to him, I totally went off on him, I didn't yell, but I went off. I had to go off a few times, but he finally got the message that the world does not revolve around him, the owrld is a give and take place, not a take take take, and the world is not made up of lets treat everyone else like crap because I want to. And like yours mine was an angel in public so no one believed me when I would tell them these stories. Kids have it made today and they think that everything needs to be handed to them. It drives me batty.

Good luck!


My oldest (I won't name names either. ;) seems to be this way. Is it just a thing as the oldest that they think they have the right to boss, TEASE TO DEATH and do whatever they want just because they are the oldest. Sigh! We've tried teaching empathy and such. I'm hoping (and have heard) they grow out of it. Fingers crossed!

Having a giveaway on my blog today!


I had this issue with one of my seven children. The child was rude, self-centered and unhelpful at home, both to his parents and to his siblings, while at school s/he was fine. I found that incentives did the trick.
Together, the child and I agreed upon a really nice tangible goal which s/he had been wanting for a long time (pet ownership in our situation). I outlined the behavioral changes needed and showed him how to make small changes in his attitude/ parent/sibling interactions. We took small baby steps towards acceptable behavior and implemented daily evaluations. A key concept was explaining exactly what I wanted (not just 'be courteous' but after dinner ask 'Mommy how can I help you') and evaluating his behavior nightly. Points were given for each day of good behavior, and we analyzed together what went wrong if applicable, as well as recognized thoughtful behaviour. Our program lasted a few months. The pet was duly purchased and is being enjoyed. The behavioral changes have persisted and I am very, very satisfied. Good luck to you!


My oldest is this way toward HER younger brother. She bosses him around, has no patience with him and uses harsh tones in speaking with him. Away from home she is nice and considerate towards him. It worries me and we have spoken to her several times about this. Right now I am just hoping she grows out of it.

Debby Pucci

First of all I think it's great that this child is good outside the home. So you have done something right. All I can tell you about my parents is that they were wonderful. Never spoke badly about anyone, ever. My parents loved and respected all people so I grew up with love for all people, rich, poor, black, white, etc.
I can't say it was something that was taught. I do know that I spent each and everyday teaching my children respect for others. Now that doesn't mean that they didn't act up at home speaking evil many times. It just happens and it's pretty normal.


We used a similar reward type method. Stars on a chart for good behaviour and prizes along the way as warranted. Very empathetic and caring now. Some of it is maturity and most of it is learning. You are doing the right thing - maybe a bit more direct would help. A friend tried the charity thing with her girls and it backfired on her. They were disgusted and unwilling to help.
Heating issues here as well - hot upstairs, cold on the main floor and comfy in the basement...whatever!!

Carrie @ Who Knew?

My daughter is still a baby so I can't give too much help. But! I am a SpEd teacher in Behavior Modification and I see a lot of this kind of stuff. The only thing I can tell you is to keep doing what your doing. Some of it will stick. And have him/her volunteer, donate, etc. Good luck!


Interesting question... I may be asking this of my middle child in a few years (at 4 some self centeredness is developmentally normative).

Is the child the sort of person who is likely to be affected or influenced if you are honest about how their statements/actions make you or others feel? Or is that not important to them? I would hypothosize that most people would not like to think of themselves as self-centered egotistical dickheads, it makes it hard to keep friends, it makes it hard to be happy when you're always focusing on how you don't have enough.

As others have stated, once you've found away to expose the problem to the child in a way that they also agree it's a problem, then working on small, tangible goals will be excellent steps towards improvement.


Research does show that families that sit together at the supper table have children who do better in school, engage less in risky behaviours etc. I know it is impossible to do this every day but try. And bring up something from the news of the day- I dunno- a family who lost everything in a fire during Christmas. Some of your children will talk about it and maybe some of it will sink in to your child who is currently living in his/her own world.

I know this sounds cheezy but it was recently my husband's birthday and besides a material gift, we gave him a "bag of love." We all wrote little messages on paper hearts and put them in a bag for him. "Thanks for fixing my bike." "Thanks for always cleaning snow off the van." My husband really liked it and I was so happy to see some of the things my kids wrote.

And another thing- when my kids argue and I get them to stop- very often I say- "Ok, now say something nice about each other."

I hope some of this helps.


My oldest was this way - especially during his senior year. In fact, I was doing the happy dance when he went away to school in Aug. Well, after some time away from us, he came home for a stretch during the holidays, and WOW, what a difference! I actually enjoyed being with him! He still was super independant and wanted to be with his friends during the holidays, instead of with his family, but the whole "I am the center of the world, bow to me" attitude was gone. I just hope it lasts:)

Mama Cas

If it's something that's really worrying you AND other people have noticed it, maybe it's time to speak to the pediatrician or a family therapist. Perhaps a couple of therapy sessions can flush out the root of this problem. Maybe it's just a maturity issue? Maybe it's something deeper? A qualified dr. can determine the answers.


Ramp up your discipline. Since I don't know your child's age I can't be specific, but he (just using proper grammar for clarity's sake) should be faced with a firm, consistent penalty for *every* infraction. Simultaneously, implement a rewards system like Cindy suggested. Your kid may be a choleric (are you familiar with the four temperaments? This is a fun article if you're interested http://www.4marks.com/articles/details.html?article_id=1336 You may enjoy the book *The Temperament God Gave You*). I have a choleric boy and he seems almost incapable of comprehending that his brother does not enjoy being pushed down or having objects piled on top of him. But we are absolutely consistent--nothing, NOTHING is ignored. He is slowly developing better habits. Of course, he's only three :)


I think I was like your child as a teenager/young adult. I didn't give a whit about any of my siblings, I was selfish, obsessed with my looks and clothes, had the "gimmes" big time and was pretty much only out for myself. What did my parents do to deserve such a stellar daughter? Nothing. What helped me change my ways? Life. Honestly, for some of us, only maturity through suffering will cause change. And only then, will it come. Just pray for your child.

Long time reader, second time commenter

Have you tried having an older sibling speak with the offender? If this isn't a good option is there a family friend/relative a few years older who would be able to tell them from an "I was just there too, parents don't get stuff because they aren't my age" point of view. Sometimes a peer-to-peer exchange can help, even if that peer says the exact same thing that you would have. If you can't think of a good option perhaps there's an older relative or family friend that the you AND the child respects and has a connection with? (Every family, has That Cool Relative, or the cool family friend, recruit them if you can.)

Whatever you do, don't use "parent words" when talking to the offender. Consequences, entitlement, respect, all accurate but in *this* situation they will come across as preachy. If all else fails get that kid in the car on a fast errand. Driving home calmly, calmly explain what you've noticed about their behavior and ask them why they're able to keep things together outside of the home. Sit back, make sure they can tell that you're listening and just let them talk.

Good luck!


This isn't any kind of solution, but depending on the child's age perhaps this message would help? If not, at least you'll get a laugh out of the opening story.


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  • Carmen Staicer is a whirlwind of energy and execution who rarely sleeps and loves coffee and happens to have six outstanding awesome, incredibly loud and opinionated kids who are always right no matter what. Her passions include Zumba, hiking, photography, homeless ministry, reading, cooking, and spending time at the beach as often as possible. She's a college student studying to be a social worker who works as a Barista. State of mind? Tired, y'all.