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7 Ways to Spoil Your Children

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I’ll never forget a playdate my daughter had at a friend’s house back when she was in the first grade. As we were saying goodbye, the other little girl was holding a container filled with plastic beads. Her mother suggested she share some with my daughter. “No!” the little girl said. The mother gently pleaded, “Oh, come on sweetheart, share some of your beads.” Again, the little girl replied, “No!” and her mom just shrugged.

We’ve all been there! But not correcting behavior like that can lead to spoiled kids. And while spoiled might sound like an old-fashioned word, it really just means a child who feels entitled to get what he or she wants whenever her or she wants it. And being spoiled isn’t limited to 3-year-olds. Big kids are at risk too. If you want to avoid having spoiled kids, then stay away from these 7 habits.

1. Pick up after your kids instead of letting them clean up their own messes.

Sometimes it’s just easier to clean up your children’s messes than to teach them how to do it themselves. But resist the temptation. Instead, set aside enough clean-up time after playtime so you don’t feel rushed. Then give each child one task at a time until everything is put in its place so they do not become overwhelmed. For older kids, let them handle issues with teachers on their own and if they get in trouble, don’t work the system to get them out of it. Kids need to experience consequences for their behavior. 

2. Let them boss you around and talk disrespectfully to you.

Spoiled kids can be master manipulators. They use words to induce guilt and control their parents. As soon as this begins to happen, make sure you put your foot down. You have to let your child know what role you both play. As the parent, you’ve got to take charge.

3. Give them everything they want—even if it’s not good for them.

Limits are absolutely necessary for everyone. Your child may not like them, but they’re in his or her best interest. Parents must work as a team to draw limits for their children. These limits should include what they wear, the movies they watch, the video games they play, the food they eat (the stuff you determine is not good for them), the music they listen to, and even the friends they should and shouldn’t have. As your children get older, the limits can be extended in certain areas, but until then, parents must enforce the limits or the limits merely become suggestions.

4. Let them drop out instead of sticking it out.

When your child asks to quit an activity or sport, make sure you know his or her motive. Perhaps there’s a good reason for the decision, but if children simply don’t “feel” like putting forth the effort, they shouldn’t be allowed to quit. Many studies show that extracurricular activities help children learn valuable lessons or skills and can also help them academically.

5. Excuse their rude or bad behavior.

Age and gender do at times go hand-in-hand with certain actions, especially when dealing with developmental behavior, but they shouldn’t be a blanket excuse for patterns of disrespect or disobedience. Sayings like “boys will be boys,” “you know how girls can be,” or “they’re just being kids” will only lead to your children having a lack of accountability for their actions.

6. Don’t follow through on discipline.

When we ease off of an agreed-upon punishment or scrap it altogether, we are communicating to our child that our words don’t mean much. So when you tell your child, “If you don’t stop that right now, you’ll go to your room,” you have to follow through.

7. Do everything for them.

As your children grow up, they should become increasingly self-sufficient. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way, especially if they’re used to you doing everything for them. Little by little, start to reinforce your child’s independence and self-sufficiency by limiting the things you do for them. Teach them how to do those things and increase their responsibilities around the home. If they don’t want to comply, limit the time they spend on the computer or watching TV. “He who does not work does not eat” is a good rule to live by in a family.

What are a few other ways we shouldn’t spoil our kids?


What does it look like when a child acts spoiled?

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