20 Ways to Deal With a Spoiled Child

It was the weekend before Christmas when I realized our kids might be spoiled and parenting is annoying (okay, I know they are spoiled, but it kind of hit me harder than ever at that moment). I walked into my closet to gather my dress, belt, shoes, and handbag for date night when my husband when I realized the belt I’d chosen was missing.

It is my favorite Gucci belt. It’s not too wide. It’s not too narrow. It was perfect for the sheath I’d chosen, and I was excited about the outfit.

Spoiled Kids

Lo and behold, my belt was nowhere to be found. It turns out, my 14-year-old daughter packed my belt, my favorite pair of Golden Goose sneakers, and two of my favorite sweaters to take with her on a weekend trip for her best friend’s birthday. Without asking. Or mentioning it. Listen, I’m not going to lie and pretend like I’m not excited about the fact that at almost 40, I wear the same size clothes and shoes as my gorgeous, tiny 14-year-old daughter, but she always asks first and I always let her know if it’s all right in that moment.

Was I annoyed? Yes. I wanted that belt, and she didn’t ask. Is it a problem that she borrows my things? No, she takes excellent care of my belongings. She puts everything back in its dust bag and box, she puts it back where it belongs, and she treats it with respect. But…I wanted the belt. In that moment, I realized that my daughter was rocking a Gucci belt, Golden Gooses, and that it had become her normal. Our kids get anything they want, any time they want it. Are they…spoiled?

Spoiled Kids

Don’t Feel Bad About Providing Your Kids With a Nice Life

I’ll start with this: Do not ever feel bad about providing your children with nice things. If you can afford it, and you want to do it, then do it. Don’t let the rest of the world guilt you out of it. I wasn’t raised spoiled, and I like to give my kids the things that I didn’t have when I was growing up. I want my kids to grow up knowing which fork to use at dinner. They should feel comfortable anywhere they go, whether it’s a weekend at the Plaza Hotel or the local Hyatt Regency.

I don’t feel guilty about providing for my children, but it is important for both me and my husband to raise grateful, thankful, appreciative kids. They will learn to respect money, to work hard, to develop a great work ethic, and to appreciate and value what they have. Never feel bad about providing your children with the life they have.

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Is My Child Spoiled?

Perhaps this is an unpopular opinion, but I don’t think a child who has a lot or gets to travel often is necessarily spoiled. A child who experiences life in their own home is uniquely different than other kids in their homes. Everyone’s life is different. I imagine Elon Musk’s children will experience a slightly different life than my children, but I don’t think it makes them spoiled. What makes a child spoiled is their attitude about life and the material possessions they have. Here are the signs of a spoiled child:

  • They appreciate nothing
  • They value nothing
  • Everything is replaceable in the mind of a spoiled child
  • They do not take care of their belongings because they know they’ll be replaced instantly
  • The child is ungrateful
  • They expect everything

An Example of Spoiled Kids

Children who are spoiled are not always kids who have the best, biggest, most expensive of everything. Children who are spoiled are the ones who never learn to take care of things, value them, or appreciate them. Here’s a great example. Let’s say 16-year-old Marley gets a brand-new BMW for her birthday. She’s excited, she’s in love with it, and she is so thankful to her parents for buying her this car. She takes great care of it. She washes it, and she keeps it clean inside. Marley doesn’t allow her friends to eat in her car, she parks far away from other cars, and she drives safely.

On the flip side, 16-year-old Jessica gets a used Toyota Camry for her birthday. She is annoyed that her parents didn’t get her the brand-new Honda Accord she wanted. Jessica eats in her car and throws her trash on the floor. She doesn’t respect her car when she drives, and she’s not worried about it when she backs into poles or hits shopping carts.

Who is spoiled? It’s easy to say that Marley is spoiled because her parents bought her a brand-new, expensive luxury car when Jessica’s parents bought her a practical used car. However, Marley is not the spoiled one here. She recognizes the value of her new car, she cares for it, appreciates it, and she shows her gratitude. Marley is aware that her parents spent a lot of money, whereas Jessica is ungrateful that her parents didn’t spend more, and she doesn’t value or care for her car in the least. Spoiled is not the biggest, best, most expensive. It’s the lack of appreciation, the lack of understanding, and the lack of value.

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How Do I Deal with My Spoiled Child?

There is no tried and true way to deal with a spoiled child. Many methods depend on the age of the child, the behavior issues, and how spoiled a child is. However, there are some tried and true methods that may work across the board.

1. Discipline your spoiled child when they misbehave
2. Do not replace items your children destroy or break because they don’t care for them
3. Do not argue with a spoiled child. Remain calm, and do not engage until they calm down
4. Bond with your kids to teach them the value of relationships
5. Make your children work for the money to replace broken, damaged items
6. Teach your children to save their money by opening a spending and a savings account for them
7. Follow through on all disciplinary threats you make
8. Use natural consequences when you can (i.e. a bad grade on a test they don’t study for)
9. Focus on good behavior
10. Let disappointment occur naturally in their lives
11. Stop responding to tantrums (these occur at any age)
12. Identify the behaviors that require change
13. Do not make excuses for your child
14. Create and enforce rules at home
15. Do not tell your children they are spoiled – tell them they are behaving like a spoiled child
16. Let other people discipline your children when necessary (teachers, coaches, etc.)
17. Do not step in and solve all of your children’s problems for them. Let them learn
18. Tell your children you love them often
19. Do not respond to emotional manipulation
20. Understand that correcting spoiled behavior is often more painful for you than the children

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Understanding the Signs of a Spoiled Child

Is your child spoiled, or are you feeling guilty because your child has more than others? Did someone else say something that makes you feel you’re spoiling your child? Take a few moments to sit and think about this, and refer back to my statement about not feeling guilty. Some people like to make other people feel guilty about things because they themselves cannot do the same for their kids, so they work on making you feel bad. It’s right back to middle school when kids make fun of others and pick on them to make themselves feel better about whatever they’re going through at home.

The most common sign of a spoiled child is a lack of appreciation and gratefulness. For example, our kids might be spoiled in the eyes of many, but they appreciate what they have, and they are grateful for it. They thank us for taking them places, for buying them things, and they appreciate what they own. They take great care of their belongings. They’ve learned the hard way on occasion, but they’ve learned. If your child expects everything, appreciates nothing, and does not bother to care for their items, then they might be spoiled.

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Natural Consequences are the Best Form of Discipline for a Spoiled Child

Natural consequences are exactly as they sound. Every behavior has a consequence. For example, if you don’t study for a test, you run the risk of failing the test. That is the natural consequence – getting a bad grade. If your spoiled child likes to run around the pool deck with their iPad open to the screen without their protective case and their screen protector and they drop it, the screen cracks and the iPad breaks. It’s the natural consequence.

Let your child suffer that natural consequence, but then take it one step further. DO NOT replace the iPad for them. They knew that by running around without the protective coverings (when the iPad isn’t allowed on the pool deck and transporting it requires protection), and they chose to ignore the rules. They’re suffering the natural consequences. Your job is to prevent them from becoming spoiled by not replacing the iPad. If they want a new one, that’s fine. Your job is to explain to them that they need to earn the money to buy a new one, or they can dip into their savings for it.

The Reason Natural Consequences Work

Why does this work? You’re wondering why I said no new iPad for your spoiled kid who didn’t follow some simple rules but I’m also saying buy the new iPad. I’m saying YOU don’t buy the new iPad. When your children are forced to spend their own money – whether it’s birthday money, Christmas money, money they earned doing chores or babysitting or whatever – on something, they learn the value of money. They’re not about to run around with that iPad uncovered and unprotected again…they spent their hard-earned money, and they’re going to protect that. See what you did there? You taught your kids the value of a dollar, and you taught them to appreciate their belongings.

Spoiled Kids

Okay, So is it Really That Bad to Spoil Your Children?

Of course, not! Spoiling your kids is a wonderful thing to do. Spoiling them is not the same thing as raising spoiled kids. But it is also important to understand that raising spoiled kids versus spoiling them on occasion can result in some lifelong consequences. There are negative effects associated with raising spoiled kids. Per WebMD, the consequences of raising spoiled kids are often severe.

  • Spoiled kids are more likely to grow up with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
  • They are less likely to succeed in their future career because they are unaccustomed to compromise, and they do not know how to work as a team, how to give rather than take, or how to exist when things don’t go exactly to their liking.
  • Spoiled kids are more likely to suffer from self-esteem problems.
    They are more likely to grow up without self-control, which can cause a myriad of negative behaviors.
  • Spoiled kids are more likely to overspend, gamble, go into debt, and they tend to have no control over their self-absorption.
  • They are less likely to enter healthy relationships with anyone as an adult because they expect everyone to do everything for them, give them everything, and take care of them.
  • Spoiled kids tend to have no idea how to function. If you spend their entire childhood managing their problems for them, fixing everything the second it breaks, or stepping in for them, they don’t learn how to do things on their own. They are incapable, and they will struggle as adults.

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It is Never Too Late to Make Positive Changes

Spoiling your kids is a gift that many parents enjoy, but there is a fine line between this and raising spoiled kids who become, let’s face it – brats. It’s not too late to start making positive changes at home, right now. This might hurt you to do, but in the end, it’s the best option. A few uncomfortable weeks or months of learning new discipline and appreciation is far superior than raising a child who will face a lifetime of discomfort and mental issues because they never learned to deal with life.

Additional Parenting Resources

What you need to know about neglectful parenting
What are some different parenting styles
Parenting as a divorced family

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