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Spoiled Kids? It’s Not Too Late To Set Limits


Photo credit: Tina Keller. This photo is used here for illustration purposes only.

You’re not doing your kids any favors when you spoil them. Spoiled children are used to having their way. They are in fact little bullies. But even if they can bully you, they won’t be able to bully their friends. If you’re not teaching them limits, they will have to learn them the hard way.

How do you know if your kid is spoiled? That’s easy. Spoiled kids are rude and inconsiderate. They refuse to share, to listen and to follow instructions. They expect to get whatever they want, and if they don’t, they start a temper tantrum.

Of course, it’s better not to get to the point where your child is spoiled in the first place. But even if she is, you can still remedy the situation if you’re willing to survive a couple of tough weeks. Remember: by stopping this behavior, you are doing your child a favor. Research shows that when spoiled kids become teenagers, they are often self-centered, have control issues, and can suffer from anxiety and depression. As spoiled kids grow, they are simply not ready to handle life.

So what can you do?

1. Don’t be afraid to set limits. It will be hard at first, because your child will rebel and will keep testing you to see if you mean business. But if you keep insisting, for example, that they start cleaning their room, eventually they’ll respect the new rule.

2. Be consistent. Once you start a new rule, stick with it, no matter what. Tantrums, threats, crying fits, begging - none of these should influence you.

3. Be firm. When you tell your child to stop, mean it. Never use empty threats. If you state a certain behavior is going to lead to a certain consequence, you have to follow through.

4. Be brief. Don’t over-explain, resonate or beg. Lay out the rule (”clean your room”). Then briefly explain the consequences of disobeying and the logic behind them (”if you don’t clean your room, you won’t be able to have Katie over for a play date, since friends don’t enjoy playing in a filthy room”). Then follow up on the consequence (filthy room - no play date).

In order for this to work, you must first ditch your own guilt over setting limits. You need to realize that setting limits does not mean you’re depriving your child. On the contrary: children thrive when they have clear limits. They become scared and confused when they sense they are in control and you are not.


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3 Responses

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  1. What a great post here. I know it is so tough sticking with our own words. With my teen I am learning that he has figured out how to play me. I went on a long walk this morning to ponder the very points in which you have mentioned above. I plan on discussing with my son this afternoon something that has really been bothering me. Lately, he has cut me off mid sentence as if to say what he has to say is more important. I consider it lack of respect. Spoiled! That is the word.

    Sticking with what you say is so key. It is so hard to give in because of the “love” we feel. Structure is so important and needs to be recognized as “love.” If we allow our children to rule then they only become a rebel of sorts.

    I love this reminder that I am not alone.

  2. This is good set of rules to start with. If it does not work, change the approach. Some of these worked for me, some not. I agree that spoiling kids only hurts them, but sometimes it is a secret weapon for parents when you want to influence w/o authority ;)

  3. Vered said

    @ Tammy: “Structure is so important and needs to be recognized as “love.” - exactly!

    @ Alik: True. :)

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