10 Signs Your Child May be Spoiled (and What to do About It)
Can there be anything more frustrating than dealing with a spoiled child? Temper tantrums, demands and refusal to listen to basic requests are all signs you may have a spoiled child in your midst. Never forget, spoiled kids turn into adult people who have been conditioned to believe life is all about them. While its common for us to try and give our kids the very moon, it’s more important to teach them how to deal with failure, be patient, and have respect. That’s our job as parents. Here are 10 signs your child may be spoiled — and what you can do to turn that right around.
Please note that we understand that this list cannot always be applied to children living with disabilities such as learning disabilities or mental health issues, as well as children living with physical disabilities, small babies, or children suffering from trauma.
You allow them to negotiate everything they don’t likeOne of the first skills kids test out on their parents is negotiation. When they’re little, they’ll ask for extra dessert, or one more story to delay bed time. As they get older, it might be negotiating for screen time or a new phone. And while negotiations are a normal part of childhood development (and a good skill when they hit the workforce), constant negotiations where you allow the kids to win teaches them they’ll get what they want from you if they just pester you enough.
Break this behaviour:Set up boundaries with your kids. No means no. As the kids get older, you can explain your rationale, but allowing them to talk their way into everything their heart desires won’t help break that habit.
They don’t understand why hitting is unacceptableThe phrase “boys will be boys” has been used to write off aggressive behaviour, particularly when it comes to violence that can come from growing up. But writing off violence as simple childhood tomfoolery, or not correcting your child when they hit is a huge red flag that you’re headed down the road to spoil town.
To break the behaviour:It’s important to teach your child accountability in an age appropriate manner. A big winner here? Use sharing as a tool to help break violent outbursts. When we share, everyone’s happy, and that’s a big lesson many kids (and adults) need to be taught.
You haven’t taught them to care for the house or their belongingsHome is where the heart is, right? While we’re constantly struggling to make sure our homes are a healthy and safe environment, one of the main jobs we need to teach our kids is how to care for their belongings. But if your child couldn’t care less about the state of their room, or actively refuses to clean up or care for their belongings, it’s probably time you stepped in.
Just taking over when your child is taking too long to tidy, or micromanaging and helicoptering while they’re making themselves a snack are signs to your child that you don’t trust their ability to do things for themselves. It’s important to step back and let them take the driver’s seat in simple day-to-day tasks. Don’t be afraid to teach your toddler how to cut veggies and fruit, facilitate your kids in planning how they’d like their room to be organized, or even have them help with dishes, laundry or other tasks. It may go against your perfectionism, but in the long run, it’ll teach your children self respect above all else.
You reward meltdowns by giving them what they wantAll kids have meltdowns at some point or another. Often they can be chalked up to exhaustion, or an inability to clearly state needs like hunger or needing the washroom. But there are also those times when your kids just want something — maybe a candy, or a new toy at the store — but when you say no, all hell breaks loose.
Often, it’s our first instinct to give in to those tantrums to simply avoid them, but short cuts can lead to trouble down the road. Giving your child your phone every time you step foot in the grocery store, and the demands can grow to the phone, a bakery item and a pack of gum for the car ride home. Because if you don’t, that little angel will turn into an embarrassingly loud shrieking animal.
Break this behaviour:The best way to curb this is to simply say no, and stick to it. It can be a pain, but that grocery store meltdown only needs to happen once if you simply turn around and go home. Our kids have to learn that they can’t get their way all the time, and while it can be a real pain to have to abandon a grocery cart full of food, chances are, you won’t get the same tantrum the next time you’re running through the aisles. That will leave you ample opportunity to ensure you’re not tricked into spending more at the grocery store, and you’ll walk out relatively unscathed.
You give in to their demands when they say they’re boredOlder kids and teens often complain of boredom. In some cases, that boredom stems from simply being unsure of what to do, or having exhausted all their playthings for the time being. But when your kids are constantly complaining that everything is boring and you can’t satisfy them, chances are, you’ve set up a home where nothing will gratify your kids at all.
Instead of giving into their demands when they complain of boredom, take it as an opportunity to empower your kids. Offer up two suggestions of things they can do (like helping fold the laundry or finishing their homework or even reading book). Giving them the ability to make the choice will help empower them to take control over times when they might feel bored by showing them that they have the ability to change their situation.
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You give in to their demands for moreWe all know kids push the envelope — and love to negotiate, but when we constantly gratify them with more, it’s showing them that they deserve whatever they want, when they want it. From extra screen time to more candy and whatever else they want, we give in because we are afraid of them pulling up their arsenal of whining, tantruming or aggression.
Break this behaviour:Just like helping them understand how to combat boredom, kids who demand more of everything need to understand the difference between wants and needs. Without teaching them the difference, you’re setting them up for a lifetime of disappointment when they don’t get what they want. In turn, you’ll teach them how to be resilient when they don’t get what they want, helping them improve their self-love and self respect long term.
You give them special treatment like separate meals“I’m not a short order cook,” is a refrain many a parent has said over the years when the kids each ask for a different meal at dinner time. While it’s important to make meals that provide our kids nourishment, it’s not any parent’s job to make custom dishes for the picky eater every meal. Giving into your little one’s demands for a separate meal, or having separate rules for one child can create a child whose demands will overrule everyone else’s — and ultimately, an entitled adult. They'll grow up to be the person with coworker with annoying habits in the workplace.
Break this behaviour:Being able to set the tone and creating a collaborative family dynamic can help teach your kids the importance of compromise and stop them from demanding special treatment for their desires.
You reward everything they do with toys and trinketsSo your kid scored an assist during a soccer game, or did really well on a test. While our instinct is to treat our kids to a special gift or treat like a meal out or some ice cream, if done regularly, becomes less of a reward system and more of an expectation from the child.
Break this behaviour:While there is always a time and a place for gift giving (especially when the gift is something your whole family can enjoy), what’s most important to our kids is that we show up and provide them with love and encouragement. Pointing out their hard work and the result and sharing our feelings of love and respect will serve our kids much better long term than a tangible item that will be lost over time.
You haven’t taught them to be patientIt is a well-known fact that kids are not the most patient creatures on earth. But if we don’t teach them to be patient now, we’re setting them up for constant disappointment when they become adults. And while it is absolutely challenging, helping guide our children towards patience can help them have higher self esteem, and even regulate their emotions better.
Break this behaviour:Of course, it’s hard for many adults to be patient too — so if you struggle with being patient, work with your kids so that you can all learn patience together. Start small like taking a break when you’re feeling overwhelmed and helping a child who may be angry or overstimulated to take a step back and pause. These purposeful delays help reset our brains and subtly make us all more patient and understanding.
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You put your child’s needs above your own or your partner’sFor parents who feel like they can’t do enough for their kids, it seems like a no-brainer to ensure that our offspring have everything their hearts desire. But that often comes at the cost of the care we need to take for ourselves and for our relationships — and that’s a slippery slope.
Exhaustion, unhappy relationships with our partners or friends and family can all wreak havoc on our lives and the lives of our children, so it’s important to know that no is just as important to a child as yes. Setting up healthy boundaries for what we can and cannot accomplish day to day not only helps caregivers avoid burnout, but it also shows our kids that caring for ourselves and fostering strong connections are more rewarding than getting what we want.
Break this behaviour:Luckily, we can fix things if we’re heading down that route, particularly in our relationships. There are plenty of small things we can do daily that can ensure we remain happy in our relationships. And when we’re happy, we’re better parents, too.