Walking past the Disney store, I see a kid in mid-breakdown.
Her face is red, her eyes are wet.
The woman -I can only assume is her mom – stands above her and repeats, “No, you can’t get a toy from the Disney store.”
“WHY?!?,” the little girl screams, “WHY! It’s not fair! You said we could. It’s not fair!!”
Is this little girl spoiled?
Who knows? This is one moment in time that I witnessed between this mom and child.
I walked past and gave a sympathetic smile to mom. Goodness knows, I’ve been there.
There are so many times I’ve asked myself the question, “Are my kids spoiled?” And some moments, my answer is yes.
Yes, they are spoiled.
- I feel I do way too much for them.
- I don’t let them fail nearly enough as they could.
- And I’m constantly worried that I’m raising good people.
Maybe you can relate?
Modern culture tells us that if we worry about being a good parent, we probably are one.
But, this worrying sucks. I would rather not worry (as much) and know I’m doing the best I can under our circumstances.
Do I really have a spoiled child?
Spoiled might be a strong word…
We can also use the word overindulged or entitled.
Unfortunately, our parenting style is usually to blame. But, it’s not really our fault.
Most of it is due to how our culture views parenting at the present moment.
When our kids’ schedules becomes overloaded with dance, softball, chess, and homework – we yearn to take the stress off their shoulders, so we start doing more for them ourselves.
And they start to expect it.
So while our intentions were always good-hearted, we have spoiled our kids.
I’m totally guilty of this as well.
For instance, my nine-year-old daughter has gotten away with not doing chores for an incredibly long time. Fixing that has been a rather painful, tear-filled experience.
But, everything is fixable.
Here are some tell-tale signs of spoiled behavior and what we can do as parents to fix it:
My kids still throws regular tantrums and he’s 9
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We’re not talking about the occasional tantrum – those happen.
I’m referring to the tantrum that you predict every time you need to say “no” to your child.
According to the book, “The Whole-Brain Child”, there are two types of tantrums:
- Uncontrollable tantrums
- Manipulative tantrums
Uncontrollable tantrums occur when your child’s brain becomes overloaded with emotion and she is just not able to control it anymore.
Manipulative tantrums are when the child actively knows what she’s doing and she’s having that tantrum to gain her way.
Those are what we need to immediately stop.
First, change your mindset on these.
You do not need to make your child happy. Your child is intentionally preying on your emotions to get their way.
When my kids have one of these tantrums, I first try to calm them.
But if they react to my gestures with more screaming, pouting and general refusal, I set clear boundaries and inform them what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior.
For example, in front of the Disney store, you can say:
“I know you’re upset about not getting a toy right now, HOWEVER, I do not appreciate the way you’re acting right now and I’ll need to cancel our movie this afternoon because you’ve shown me you can’t control yourself in public.”
I always have to go out of my way to find something my kid will eat.
If eating out has become a nightmare because your child refuses most menu items, you have a situation.
Unless your child has food allergies, you don’t need to feel trapped in your restaurant choices.
It’s OK to go to a restaurant and have your child eat absolutely nothing.
My son doesn’t like mexican food and I love it. Every time we go to Los Taquitos, he gets a plain tortilla and a side of beans.
He usually doesn’t touch the beans and only eats the tortilla.
Is it nutritionally balanced?
Will he develop scurvy and forever be weaker than his peers because of only eating a tortilla? Probably not.
Know that if your kids are accustomed to getting to eat where they want, there will be some backlash.
Once my husband and I wanted to eat at a Crepe place for breakfast that my daughter wasn’t fond of. She sat at a table in the corner of the restaurant, cried and glared at us.
She made our meal an absolute nightmare.
We suffered through it and went home where she still cried and complained.
She missed her piano lesson that day because of the tantrum and we deducted the cost of the lesson from her allowance.
Since that one experience, she has never thrown a fit about a restaurant again.
She whines about absolutely everything that doesn’t go her way
Oh, the whining.
It grates on me so much.
Mainly because I feel that I’m doing a crappy job as a parent if my child can not find a single thing to be grateful for.
But, it’s not that way at all.
Its more that whining has become such a habit for my kids that they are struggling to break free of it.
Since mine are older (in elementary school), I call them on the behavior.
“Why is it… everytime you see me, you start complaining? I feel so sad when I see you complain. I feel you don’t appreciate anything I do for you”
This was followed by, “No! We appreciate you. Sorrrr-ryyy.”
The whining didn’t automatically stop.
But since I addressed it, I’m now able to remind them of that conversation with one word: “whining”
It’s a work in progress, like all parenting situations are.
So, are my kids spoiled?
Chances are, if you are reading this post, no, your kids are not irreparably spoiled.
Perhaps, just a little entitled.
But I’m in the same boat.
The strategies that have worked for me are stopping manipulative tantrums immediately, relaxing about food choices and calling my kids out about the whining.
You are a good parent. We are all simply learning as we go.