It’s completely normal to want to give your child everything they want. They’re your little cherub, the light of your life, the one good thing that you ever achieved, and you want to make sure that they’re always smiling, always happy, and, of course, always healthy.
Those good intentions are perfectly acceptable for every parent. It’s a totally normal desire. However, there is a point where you have to start playing the ‘bad cop’ role slightly. It sounds terrible to say ‘no’ to your child when you don’t want to, but if you let them have absolutely everything they want at all times, they’re just going to end up spoiled.
A spoiled child never has to do anything for themselves. They’re given whatever they want without question and they’re never disciplined properly when they do something wrong. As a result, they never learn important life lessons, such as how to share, how to treat others with respect, and the need to work hard to get what you want sometimes. Spoiled children are treated like royalty at all times. While you might want to treat your little one like a prince or princess, it’s not advisable all the time.
A spoiled child thinks that the world is there to bend to their will. That sounds harsh when you consider that this is a child we’re speaking about, but as their parent, its up to you to teach them that if they want something, they must ask correctly and know that they’re not always going to get a ‘yes’ in return. They must sometimes work for their request, e.g. put their toys away and keep their bedroom tidy in order to have a treat after dinner occasionally.
Spoiled children are also at risk of social isolation because they don’t treat other children with kindness or empathy. They’re selfish and jealous much of the time. Of course, it’s not their fault, it’s simply the way they’ve been taught to act.
So, how can you stop your child from being spoiled? First, it’s important to know the key characteristics of a spoiled child.
When taking about spoiled children, we’re talking about the age 2 upwards. At this point your child is becoming more independent and aware of their role in the world. A baby or 1 year old cannot be spoiled in reality because they’re not able to do much for themselves, if anything at all. However, by the age of 2, a child can start to learn lessons such as manners and sharing.
Here are some of the main characteristics that your child may exhibit if they’re on the spoiled side.
Of course, all children throw tantrums occasionally but if your child does this on the regular, simply because they’re not getting what they want or you dare to say ‘no’ to them, that’s a very clear sign that they may be spoiled. They use tantrums as a way to manipulate you into changing your mind, giving in, and letting them have whatever they want.
Manners are a basic thing which all parents should teach their children as soon as they can. If your child rarely says ‘please’ or ‘thank you’, that’s a red flag. It’s especially important during birthdays and holidays when gifts are often exchanged. If your child dives into their pile of presents, frantically ripping off the paper and not saying ‘thank you’, that’s something that needs to be addressed. They may also show distain for whatever they’ve been gifted in this case.
A 2 year old isn’t going to be doing too much around the house but if you ask them to pick something up for you, e.g. their toys, and they refuse to do so, that’s a sign of being spoiled. In this case, it could be that in the past you’ve done everything for your child and they feel that they don’t need to do it. They also think that if they say ‘no’ enough or just not do what they’re asked, in the end, you’ll do it for them.
Of course, your child is dependent upon you, but there comes a time when they can be left in a room to play with their toys whilst you make dinner or they can be left with their grandparents whilst you go out with your partner. If your child throws a major tantrum when you try to leave them alone for more than a few seconds, they’re showing signs of dependency, probably as a result of being spoiled.
Again, many children develop pickiness with food at this age but it’s rarely much to write home about. However, a child who is spoiled will have a lot of things they refuse to eat and a small list of things they want. These things are normally treats they can’t have all the time and when they’re not given them on demand, they will throw a tantrum. It’s also likely that a spoiled child will demand the food they want and refuse to eat anything else you give to them.
Of course, it’s fine to have the odd treat, but constantly isn’t a good thing at all.
Spoiled children often seek attention and they’re generally quite disobedient and naughty. If you tell them not to do something, they’ll do it anyway and probably smile at you as they do it. Children around the age of 2 usually develop the word ‘no’ and use it a lot anyway, which is totally normal, but a spoiled child cannot be reprimanded that easily as they’ll simply continue doing whatever they want anyway.
In terms of attention seeking, a spoiled child will often brag, show off, and demand attention at all times.
Helping your child to become less spoiled isn’t an easy route, but it’s completely doable. Most parents find it difficult because they’re so used to saying ‘yes’ to their child and giving them what they want, because it makes them happy.
So, the first step is to start saying ‘no’ and sticking to your intentions. Children are incredibly resilient and will learn pretty quickly, however do expect a few over the top tantrums before that learning spell takes hold.
A good technique is to teach them that if they want something, they have to wait until a necessary time or they have to do something in return, e.g. a few chores. If they ask for a new toy, tell them that they will have to wait until their birthday. Or, if it is something small that you’re willing to give, tell them that if they behave well for a week and do all their chores, you will think about it.
Creating boundaries is key but it’s even more key that you stick to them. Be specific and make sure that your child knows exactly what you’re asking them to do. For instance, you could say, “if you’re kind to your sister and you pick up your toys when I ask you to, we can go to the big park at the weekend”. By doing that, you’re telling them what you want them to do, you’re giving them an incentive, and you’re setting a boundary.
However that doesn’t mean that you should ‘bribe’ your child to act well because otherwise they’re just going to do it for the sake of getting a reward. Mix up rewards with simple instructions and make sure that you don’t bend to their will and give in. If you ask them to pick up their toys and they refuse to do it, don’t be tempted to do it for them simply for thes sake of having a tidy room.
It’s important that you show your unhappiness to rude behaviour or generally bad behaviour and you congratulate and thank your child when they do something well. Then, over time, they will start to recognise the good deeds with smiles and happy words, and the bad deeds with reprimands.
Of course, it can be hard to say ‘no’ to your child because you don’t want them to be upset, but they’re never going to learn important life lessons if you give in to every single demand. This will simply continue into adulthood, and you may find that at that point, they’re unable to have healthy and fulfilling relationships because they expect their partner to do everything for them. Giving your child everything they want and never disciplining them in an appropriate manner can also lead to narcissism in some cases.
“You spoil them” is something we often hear in relation to a child. However, it’s not a laughing matter over the long term.
Learn to say ‘no’ to your child and stick to your intentions. Yes, it’s hard, but it is the most important thing you can do for your child and their future development.