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The idea of a spoilt child can be a parent’s worst nightmare.
They can be the children who scream and shout (sometimes in the worst possible places) until they get what they want…
The children who refuse to eat anything but sweets or their favorite food…
The children who always have a tantrum when asked to do something they don’t want to…
Or even the children who think it’s always too early to go to bed.
The signs of a spoilt child are often overlooked in favor of the “never mind, just shut her/him up” attitude.
But that can have important implications for the child’s future.
In this article, we want to focus on identifying the signs of a spoilt child and how you can control and, eventually, overcome it.
And no, you’re not too late, as you’ll see.
Seven most common structural signs that a child is spoiled
Do you have a constantly demanding child, never grateful, that expects everything to be handed to them?
Do they whine when they don’t get what they want or throw tantrums when things don’t go their way?
Are you wondering if your precious little one is spoiled?
If you’re nodding right now, with that “cringe look on your face…”
Questioning your ability as a parent…
Yes, odds are your child is spoiled.
But let’s not qualify that just yet.
We don’t like to label a spoiled child as an automatic present or future problem.
Or even as a way to question your abilities as a parent.
And you shouldn’t do that also.
Not to yourself. And don’t let others do the same.
But we’ll get to that in a second.
First, let’s go through the signs of a spoilt child.
The most critical ones.
And I’m sure you’ll recognize a few…
1. Only they can use the word “no”
If each time you say “no” to them, they’ll trigger their aggressive defensive mode…
That’s a clear sign of spoiled behavior.
As we use to tell our kids…
Don’t be afraid to ask for whatever you want because “no” is always granted.
But if you don’t ask…
Or if you’re afraid of hearing a “no,” you’ll never know if you might get a “yes” as you wanted to.
If they can’t stand a “no” at the end of the day, they’ll be the ones missing out…
To be honest…
I wish I wouldn’t be afraid to ask for whatever I want more often.
And yes, this is a sign of how much I was spoiled as a kid.
2. They’re always more interested in what they don’t have than with what they have
This is a tough one.
Check this short Harry Potter’s video to understand what we’re talking about:
You can easily see the cause and effect in this video, right?
3. Household chores? What’re those?
We’re not talking about the “big ones” like cleaning their room…
Or tuck their bed in the morning.
We’re talking about those little things like the plates they leave all over your place…
Knowing that someone will take them to the kitchen for them.
We’re also talking about how they sometimes leave the bathroom after taking a simple thing as a shower…
Or, and even more impressive…
How they leave the bathroom mirror after brushing their teeth.
How on earth do they do that?
I’m not even talking about a mechanical toothbrush that you sometimes turn on before you get to put it inside your mouth.
You know the result…
But it’s never as impressive as that mirror sometimes.
And yes, they don’t do a thing about it.
They might even use that as “ink” for a funny drawing or to write something.
We sound like we know what we’re talking about, right?
4. They’re a sore loser
Have you found yourself in a situation where you let your young child win to make them happy?…
Over and over…
And over again?
Because you know how your child’s behavior will flip just from a little unmeaningful defeat?
5. Parenting is about managing bribes
“Stop doing that!…”
“Ok, I’ll give you [insert bribe].”
We’re all been there.
We tame tampers with bribes.
No one ever mentioned parenting would be an easy thing to do.
But if we fall into this escape constantly…
They’ll know it.
Those little ones are far smarter than we believe.
They’re like a lion chasing a limping animal.
They know where to strike to get what they want.
Yes, we’re the “limping animal.”
6. They don’t share what’s theirs. They demand others to share what’s not theirs.
You saw that look on someone else’s face, right?
When you’re child refuses to share something…
But as soon as the other child brings something new…
You know how that can end.
And it’s like a blade crossing our chest…
It’s like a brand people print into our forehead.
“Our child is a spoiled, selfish kid…”
7. “I need…”
It’s their way or the highway.
And this is how they typically position their requests.
It’s not a question.
It’s a demand.
It’s an expectation they’re expecting us to meet.
And, if we don’t…
Get ready for some temper tantrum bribes, perhaps…
What defines a spoiled child?
It’s not simple to answer this question, but Dr. Gail Saltz, psychiatrist and author of “The Power of Different,” has this to say:
“A spoiled child is one who takes more than they give.”
It may sound simple, but it can be challenging for parents to see when their children are not giving back as much as they take.
But attention, this is not about quantifying and see where the scale is pending.
It’s about understanding their behavior.
Are they needy?
Can you easily qualify them as needy?…
As a child who has a needy attitude?
Remember, a spoiled child is typically self-centered.
It’s about them first.
And sometimes, there is still room to think about someone else.
But only if it meets their demands never to be.
Does the above description of a spoiled child sound like your kid?
Parenting is hard.
It’s even harder when you have a child who never seems satisfied with anything and always wants more.
It can feel like they’re constantly whining, complaining, and throwing tantrums whenever they don’t get what they want.
For parents of kids like this one, it can seem impossible to manage their tantrums without feeling guilty or bad about yourself.
But the truth is that these children are just exhibiting signs of being spoiled by indulgent parents.
Parents who give in too easily when it comes to meeting their needs – often at the expense of other family members’ needs!
And unfortunately for those other family members (like your spouse)…
There doesn’t seem to be an easy way out.
Kids will continue acting entitled as long as they get their rewards.
And this leaves us with an essential question…
How is spoiling your child harmful?
Spoiling your child might seem like an inoffensive idea, but it can harm them in the long run.
They will learn that they do not need to work for anything and still get what they want.
They won’t be able to make their own decisions and take responsibility for themselves when they grow up.
You are also setting them up for failure by giving in to all of their desires.
This teaches them nothing about limits or boundaries, leading them to problems down the line.
Set some ground rules now.
And avoid bigger issues later on!
Think about it this way…
People who are spoiled and given everything they want as a child grow up to be less independent than those raised with discipline and a sense of responsibility.
Spoiled kids also become more entitled when adults do things for them instead of teaching them how to do it themselves.
Finally, spoiled kids may not understand the value of money or work hard enough when faced with challenges because they’ve always been given what they wanted in life before!
This is the difference between raising a spoiled adult or an independent and confident adult…
Who knows that effort is ALWAYS a piece of the reward equation.
How do you raise a spoiled brat?
Well, as a starter…
You identify which and whose actions are nurturing and developing a bratty child.
It can be mostly yours, your spouse’s, your parents’ or your spouse’s parents…
It really doesn’t matter.
Those nurturing the child’s behavior must understand the consequences and start putting boundaries…
Not only with themselves but also with the kid(s).
So, how do you raise a spoiled brat?
Two simple ways:
- You understand they’re spoiled, and you start adding some boundaries; and
- You don’t blame yourself or anyone else, and you move forward with way #1.
This is not a blame game.
Empathy doesn’t come from blame, so leave it all behind.
This is a fresh start.
It’s about preventing spoiling them even more…
And start helping them become self-reliant.
Even if you’re dealing with a teenager.
And this leaves us to the last and probably most critical question…
How do you unspoil a spoiled child?
It’s a question that plagues parents everywhere.
You love your kids, but you can’t stand the way they act.
They are selfish, entitled, and disrespectful of their elders.
How do YOU unspoil a spoiled child?
It’s not easy, but it can be done.
You need patience and understanding.
All parents are different, so there is no right or wrong way of doing this, but the following steps will help guide you in the right direction.
Step 1: take stock of what has made them this way
If it’s because you’ve been spoiling them for years, then it won’t be the easiest of tasks…
But if it’s just that they have not had any boundaries set or consequences given, then there is still time!
Either way, it can be done if you…
Step 2: enforce those boundaries
The next step is to start enforcing those boundaries with firmness and consistency until your child learns how to behave like an upstanding member of society once again.
And not just as a member of society, but as an active member of your household.
Start with an honest conversation about what’s happening at home and how you feel about it.
Most children have some idea about what’s happening.
But they don’t see it from the same lenses as you see.
It’s always under control and never too serious in their eyes.
If you want any change to happen, communication is key.
Remember that it wasn’t their option to become who they are now.
In the same way, you shouldn’t blame yourself.
And don’t let others blame you.
That’s the easiest path.
And see where that got you, right?
First, get them to listen to you.
Secondly, discuss your values and the values you would like your child to live by.
Not only as a family member but as a future and independent being in society.
Talk about why these things matter to you as a parent and make sure your child understands them too before giving rewards or punishments for good behavior or bad behavior.
For example, if the goal is independence, don’t praise your child for not doing what they’re told.
Expectations are different when it comes to actions but equally important.
Thirdly, and most importantly: be their friend first before initiating any of the above steps.
You may know everything there is about parenting and the grown-up life – yet that’s still no reason not to be attentive to how things sound in other people’s ears. Especially your child.
Set the tone to why this change and new rules matter.
You’re not making these changes because you suddenly became a harsh parent.
You’re making these changes because you understood you weren’t helping your child…
And you want to help them become who they envision for their future.
And whatever that future is, they’ll get it faster and safer if they are confident and independent.
And that is something you should start nurturing today.
Not tomorrow or the day after.
They’re the most important people in your life.
Saying “no” or demanding good manners, or doing other forms of discipline, is not showing less love.
In fact, it demands a lot of love to say “no” to our kids.
But don’t say “no” without telling them why.
Add them to your rationale.
Remember the rules and what you both agreed.
Make rules clear, and they’ll understand the consequences.
Everything is related.
Their actions will result in a consequence.
And this is true today, as it will be tomorrow, and in twenty years from now.
It’s in your hands.
Don’t ignore the signs of a spoilt child.
Sometimes, it’s easier to let go and just bend the rules…
Or simply ignore them.
But you’re doing a disservice for yourself and your child.
And, although it’s easy to think that you’re too late…
That the bad is already done…
Don’t fall into that temptation.
There is always time to help them.
There are always ways to unspoil them.
Will it be easy?
Probably it won’t.
Will you be able to make a complete change in them?
Hard to tell.
But will it be worth it to start today and make even the slightest impact on their lives?
Don’t come into this task to reboot their mindset and rebuild one from scratch.
That is utopic.
Come into this task knowing it will be challenging.
And knowing that whatever you accomplish, it’s for their future.
Don’t request or expect perfection.
This is teamwork.
They’ll need you.
The same way you’ll need them.
You got this.
Make it happen.
Make this your new parent superpower.