Dr. Amen on Dr. Phil: Does Ineffective Parenting Create Entitled Kids?

Although Damion is almost 21, he isn’t interested in staying long at a regular job. He finds them either boring or unmotivating. Instead, he aspires to be a star on YouTube with his singing and dancing. Ironically, even though he believes he has the talent to become successful on social media, he makes minimal effort to even work on his pipedream.

He blames his failure to launch on his mother and stepfather for not understanding and supporting his dreams and their refusal to buy him the equipment he wants to make music. Instead, Damion stays up all night watching YouTube, sleeps until 1:00 pm, and then plays video games and vapes all day long—which is definitely not helping him. Brain images have shown that vaping lowers activity in the part of the brain involved with focus, attention, and other important aspects of executive function.

Damion’s mother, Carrie, loves him very much and felt sorry for him because when he was younger, his father was in jail and wasn’t able to be in his life very much. She also felt guilty for frequently needing to move for new jobs she got trying to make ends meet. Because of this, Damion had to change schools regularly and there was limited stability in his life. He also had a terrible anger problem and often fought with other kids, resulting in suspensions from school. When Damion was mad, he would punch walls and throw chairs if he didn’t get his own way—and is still prone to anger when his demands aren’t met.

Because of her guilt about Damion’s unstable childhood, whenever he would act out, Carrie would bribe him into good behavior by giving or buying him whatever he wanted. She continues to do this, and even still buys his vape cartridges for him.

Special, Spoiled, and Entitled Dragons

Damion has what Dr. Daniel Amen refers to as the “Special, Spoiled, or Entitled Dragons.” And this is a big problem for the family. However, Damion’s sense of entitlement didn’t develop in a vacuum.

In his newly released book, Your Brain is Always Listening, Dr. Amen teaches us about the dragons that breathe fire onto our emotional brain and steal our joy and contentment while driving unhealthy behaviors. He describes 13 different “Dragons from the Past” that stem from the personal stories we tell ourselves based on our experiences earlier in life.

Carrie placated her son’s anger by giving in to him, which taught Damion that he was entitled to whatever it is that he wanted. The Special, Spoiled, or Entitled Dragons cause people to believe they are extra special—even more special than others. People who harbor this type of dragon have a strong need for attention, lack empathy for other people, and tend to blame others for their shortcomings. They respond with tantrums, anger, or rudeness when:

  • They don’t get what they want
  • They don’t feel they are being treated as special as they should be
  • When someone tries to make them take responsibility for themselves

Carrie, on the other hand, has her own “untamed” Dragons from the Past that largely led to the development of Damion’s unremitting sense of entitlement. According to Dr. Amen, she is dealing with Responsible Dragons and Should and Shaming Dragons.

Responsible Dragons

Those with the Responsible Dragons feel a sense of responsibility for the pain of others and are easily triggered when they perceive someone is in need of their help. Their inclination to be the fixer, caretaker, or codependent person causes them to do too much for other people, who then become dependent on them. This in turn breeds entitlement for the recipient as well as resentment and long-term stress for the person with Responsible Dragons.

Should and Shaming Dragons

The Should and Shaming Dragons arise when a person grows up in a culture of guilt where they might have been humiliated, belittled, judged, or criticized. This can happen if a person was raised in an environment with strong moral teachings, rules, and laws, as well as in certain religions. In these situations, shaming is often used as a strong motivator to get people to comply.

Those with Should and Shaming Dragons tend to be triggered by disapproval from someone important to them, such as a family member or a boss. When that happens, it can cause feelings of guilt, distress, and a need to be submissive—among other problems.

The Clashing of Untamed Dragons

Responsible Dragons plus Should and Shaming Dragons tend to spawn Special, Spoiled, and Entitled Dragons. Therefore, it is no surprise that Damion has an inflated sense of entitlement but has very little self-efficacy, yet Carrie is wracked with guilt and worry for wanting him to change. Even though she now sees him as extremely lazy and unprepared for real life because of how she raised him, she can’t seem to stop her ongoing enabling and overprotective behaviors with him.

Responsible Dragons and Should and Shaming Dragons tend to spawn Special, Spoiled, and Entitled Dragons, so it’s not unusual for a child to develop an inflated sense of entitlement, but have very little self-efficacy. Click To Tweet

There is hope though! Once Carrie learns how to “tame” her own Dragons from the Past using the strategies Dr. Amen specifies in the book, she can teach Damion how to tame his too. With the support of her husband, it is possible to make positive changes in their lives and help Damion become more comfortable with acting his age and taking greater responsibility for himself.

Your Brain Is Always Listening is written by psychiatrist, neuroscientist, and New York Times bestselling author Daniel G. Amen, MD. In this book, Dr. Amen equips you with powerful weapons to battle the inner dragons that are breathing fire on your brain, driving unhealthy behaviors, and robbing you of your joy and contentment. Order your copy here.

If you want to join the tens of thousands of Amen Clinics patients who have already tamed their dragons and overcome their behavior problems, symptoms of addiction, anxiety, depression, trauma, and more, speak to a specialist today at 888-609-4318 or visit our contact page here.


  1. i am reading the book and learning so much about my dragons…….learning to tame one at a time

    Comment by mic — April 28, 2021 @ 1:57 PM

  2. Can there be a different reference rather than ‘dragon’ for non-comforming people? And television shows and contests also cause many young people to feel entitled along with family and school situations. Thank you, Dr. Amen and Dr. Phil for at least attempting to help individuals and families make positive changes. Sincerely.

    Comment by Elinor Nosker — April 28, 2021 @ 6:40 PM

  3. You are a very capable individual!

    Comment by graliontorile — December 2, 2023 @ 7:12 AM

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