How to Teach a Spoiled Child Appreciation

Father Teaching a Spoiled Child Appreciation

Children are born self-centered. That’s a fact of life. The problem, however, is getting them to grow out of that sort of behavior. It’s up to the parent to show them the path to becoming a functioning, empathetic adult. It’s also the parent’s job to bring the child happy memories and to show them that they’re loved.

There comes moments, however, where a mother or father is faced with the outcomes of their parenting, whether it be good or the bad. Perhaps your child will complain in front of your family about not getting enough presents, or maybe you’ll wince when your child yanks a toy away from someone else. It’s during these moments that we ask ourselves if we somehow went wrong anywhere.

Let’s get one thing out of the way: if you’ve spoiled your child hoping to give them good memories, you are not a bad parent. If you feel guilty about not spending as much time with them, or you give in to their demand for toys or sweets because you don’t want to make a scene at the store, you are not a bad parent. Here I’ll give you advice on how to recognize a particularly selfish kid and how to instill in them gratitude.


Characteristics of a Spoiled Child

spoiled child

While we all get the general gist of the term, a “spoiled child” can still look different to particular parents, and some may not be able to recognize it within their own children. Here’s the basics:

  • The child is generally self-centered and doesn’t understand the repercussions on their actions
  • The child thinks they can say “no” all they want, but you can’t say “no” to them.
  • Tantrums occur mainly when the child doesn’t get what they want.
  • Constant dissatisfaction with everything they have
  • “I want” isn’t in their vocabulary. Whether it’s candy or games or food, it’s always “I NEED”.


Have a Discussions and Instill Empathy

Have a conversation and Instill Empathy in a child

This is valid for both pre and post-selfish behavior. If your child is disrespectful, you’re free to put them in the corner or what have you, but make sure you sit down with them to explain why they’re in trouble. If they’re ungrateful for the amount of gifts they’ve been given, for example, explain to them how the aunties, uncles, grandparents, and friends who gave these gifts had put a lot of thought and their own money and love into them. Harp on how your child’s behavior makes other people feel, and if you can, try to have them empathize.

You should attempt to have these discussions before such big events as well to preemptively stop such behavior from occurring in front of loved ones.


Delayed Rewards

hourglass representing delayed rewards

There’s nothing wrong with the occasional candy or a toy, but when things are given on demand, your child will continue to take without gratitude. There needs to be a reward system. It’s more than just “please and thank you”, too.

It’s always a bad idea to give your child a treat in order to get them to behave; in fact, it should be the other way around. Your child cleaning up their room by themselves, a good report card, good behavior in public; these are all reasons to indulge a child, and it should always come with praise and a mention of why they’re getting the rewards in the first place. Phrases like “this is for being a good boy at the store” are a good start, and you should make sure to save bigger rewards for bigger achievements.

I also suggest replacing some physical rewards with verbal praise. Thank them, even if it’s for small things such as not interrupting you while you were having a conversation with someone. These go a long way in not only instilling gratitude, but also strengthening you and your child’s relationship.


Learn How to Handle Tantrums

Learn how to Handle Tantrums

Tantrums are one of the most stressful things a parent can endure, especially in public. No matter what, though, you need to put your foot down. If you give in to a tantrum, it will only show them that screaming and crying will get them what they want. It’s best to let them get it all out and realize on their own that their outrageous behavior isn’t working.

What about in public? If you feel like a tantrum is going to occur, try to have one preemptively. Tell your child at home or in the car that you won’t be able to buy any toys or candy because “it’s not in the budget”. That way, you can handle it on your own. Unless that four year old has a gun to your head, don’t give in to the screaming and crying.

Another note, don’t apologize for being unable to give them certain things. That implies that it’s your fault. Instead, try to empathize. “I know you want a toy, but it’s not in the budget” or “I like chocolate, too, but we have sweets at home” are always good phrases. If you’re the type to give them an allowance, perhaps offer to pay for a portion if they do as well, that way they can learn a bit about value.


Teach Them to Value What They Have

Teach a child to value what they have

When my little brother stuffed marbles into our VCR player and essentially broke it. When my brother went to play Aladdin on the VCR a couple days later, my mother explained to him that they couldn’t watch Aladdin because he broke the machine. He asked her to replace it, and she told him ‘no’, because we didn’t have the money for it (even though we did). Looking back, I realized there was a shift in my brother once he realized that his consequences did indeed have actions. After realizing that profuse apologies were getting him nowhere, he handled the game consoles and his toys like they were glass. His joy was through the roof when, on his next birthday, we got another VCR player.

If a child is to have appreciation for what they have, they need to know the value, and this includes learning that these material items are a privilege and not a right. This goes further beyond grounding and taking an iPad away. Hesitate on giving too many big, expensive gifts at once. Teach them proper care for items and an understanding of their worth, even if it’s just candy. Have them pay for treats themselves with birthday money, or give a small allowance to teach them that all the things they want have a cost. Not only will it save you money, but it will instill appreciation for rewards and gifts in the future.