I don’t want my child to be spoiled

bratty childBy Abby Bordner

I hear this a lot. Even from parents of babies! This is one thing parents can agree on. We don’t want to have THAT child. The spoiled one who cries about everything, gets whatever she wants and is demanding and bratty. Ugh! So, how do we, as parents, avoid raising a spoiled child?

When I work with parents of a newborn baby, sometimes they say, “I don’t want to hold her too much. She will get spoiled.” Sometimes parents of toddlers say, “I can’t comfort her every time she cries. She will get spoiled.” And parents of older children say, “If I help him when he can’t do something for himself, he’ll get spoiled.” Sometimes parents are misguided in thinking, “If I withhold the comfort and connection my child is asking for, he won’t be spoiled.” Actually, the problem is NOT too much attention.

Children don’t have a natural tendency toward this behavior. Children don’t automatically fall into this behavior unless they find that it’s an effective way to get what they want. Let’s be clear here. What is the behavior of a “spoiled child”?

  • Tantrums to get something she wants (and usually gets it)
  • Demanding, controlling
  • Disregard for other people or the surroundings he’s in
  • Lack of respect for authority
  • Inconsiderate, rude

Of course, none of us want a child like that! “Spoiled child” behavior is a result of permissive parenting; when parents can’t/ don’t step confidently into their role as authority over their children.

Some parents accidently tend toward permissive parenting because they don’t want to hurt their child, they don’t want to be angry at their child or they don’t want to see their child suffer. That seems like noble motivation, right?! Especially if you were raised with authoritarian parents who “ruled with an iron fist”. Permissive parenting seems like the opposite. If I don’t rule at all, then my children won’t experience the fear, isolation and loneliness of parents who inflict punishment and anger to control behavior. Actually, your child needs you to lovingly keep him safe and teach him about the world around him.

So, the middle ground is relationship based parenting. My philosophy prioritizes the relationship between parent and child as the ultimate tool to teach respect, connection, discipline and emotional health. As parents, we can impact how our children get their needs met, how they interact with the world around them and how they manage challenges and failures. When we can confidently accept our role as “authority” (which is NOT mean, angry or frightening) over our children, they will look to us for guidance and support. Healthy behavior in children shows that they can manage their disappointment when they don’t get what they want and they can communicate effectively about what they need. That is what we want to see in our children INSTEAD of the behavior of a “spoiled child”.

Here are some tips to avoid “spoiling” your child:

  • Offer love and connection as much as you can. Withholding your support is never a good parenting strategy. If they need you, find a way to be available for them.
  • Confidently say “No” sometimes. If the answer is “No” don’t tiptoe around it, apologize for it or become angry about it. A positive leader is decisive and clear AND loving at the same time. Say “no” and redirect. Don’t get pulled into the drama.
  • Explain your expectations and don’t be afraid to have high expectations of your child. Tell them that you expect them to act respectfully, speak to others kindly and be patient when the focus is not on them.
  • Be an ally to your child. Stay clear in your role to keep him safe and help him learn about the world around him. Don’t fall into the trap of going on an emotional roller coaster ride that your child is leading. If your child is falling apart, be the one who helps him find his way back to a calm and connected place. Your child will learn respect for you because you help him regulate his emotions.

How are you a positive leader for your child?


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Leave A Reply (2 comments so far)

  1. Leah Davies
    3 years ago

    This is an excellent article. I love your tips to avoid “spoiling” your child. For a related parenting handout, “Ten Ways to Raise Children to USE Drugs,” (what not to do), go to: http://www.kellybear.com/ParentTips/ParentTip3.html For a list of what parents may want to do instead, see “The ABC;s of Parenting,” at: http://www.kellybear.com/ParentTips/ParentTip1.html

    • Abby
      3 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this resource. I’m glad you liked my blog post!