What to Do When an 18-Year-Old Daughter Feels Entitled

By Amy Pearson
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Your teen daughter might assume her 18th birthday means she is entitled to make her own decisions and do as she pleases. While life experience has likely taught you that 18-year-olds are not always as mature as they think they are, she might not share your sentiments. However, even though you do not have as much control over her life as you did when she was younger, you can still develop a healthy adult relationship with her.

Beware of the Princess

If she grew up treated like a princess, her sense of entitlement is unlikely to magically change on her 18th birthday. Many teenagers' self-centered and entitled attitude stems from growing up in an affluent or indulgent home, suggests the American Psychological Association. She might also struggle with an entitled attitude because she is not yet developmentally able to see things differently. The development of her frontal lobe, which is responsible for regulating reasonable thought, will not fully develop until her mid-20's, a NPR report states. If she was given everything her heart desired up until this point, these self-centered and entitled behaviors might be exacerbated.

Look on the Bright Side

Her feelings of entitlement might give her the motivation she needs to work hard in school or a job so she can pursue all that she wants in life. If she is in college, she is likely used to setting her own schedule and making her own decisions about everyday life. She might assume she is entitled to make those same decisions when she is home, which is a sign that she is growing up and learning to take responsibility for herself -- and that's a good thing.

Enforce Consequences

Even though your 18-year-old daughter wants to make her own decisions and receive certain privileges, you have a right to enforce your own rules or expectations for everyone living in your home, as Mayo Clinic recommends. If you want her home at a reasonable hour and she continually disregards your wishes, you have a right to enlist consequences. You might not let her borrow your car the next time she wants to go somewhere, for example, or require her to do extra chores. If her sense of entitlement and difficult attitude do not improve, you might need to encourage her to move out on her own.

Don't Nag

It can be hard to watch your child transition into an adult, especially if her feelings of entitlement interfere with your relationship with her. She might need to experience the hardships of life firsthand before she can truly understand that she is not necessarily entitled to anything. Instead of nagging her to go to bed at a reasonable hour because she has to get up early to work the next day, she might need to experience the misery of working on very little sleep. Her sense of entitlement might decrease once she realizes that the freedom of being an adult comes with responsibilities that she might not have experienced before.

About the Author

Amy Pearson earned dual bachelor's degrees in management and horticulture. She is a licensed elementary teacher for kindergarten through sixth grades. Pearson specializes in flower and vegetable gardening, landscape design, education, early childhood and child development.