Have you ever heard your child say “I hate you” or throw a hissy fit when they don't get what they want? You are not alone. Educational psychologist and author of “UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World” Michele Borba said spoiled children are stuck in “me” mode as “everything revolves around their needs, concerns, feelings, wants, desires, and everyone else takes second place,” mentioned Kelsey Borresen of Huffpost, an American news and opinion website.
Parents’ intentions are often good when they spoil their children, but it’s misguided. They lavish their children because they want to give them everything that their mom and dad did not have in their youth. Parents also spoil their kids because they want to provide them with the best life possible. Some parents feel guilty for saying “no” or are too exhausted to establish rules. Borba said it’s easier to give in when you’re exhausted from working all day.
Parenting/TODAY Moms Take A Look At Spoiled Children
Parenting and TODAY Moms surveyed over 6,000 parents to know how much parents spend during the holidays, if they feel guilty saying “no” to any item in their child’s wish list, and more. This was reported by Sasha Emmons of Parenting, a website dedicated to publishing content on family life.
Parenting and TODAY Moms found out that three out of four parents (75%) admitted that their kids were less grateful to some degree during the holidays, while 59% said their kids were more spoiled than they were as children. In fact, only 10.8% of parents said their kids were less spoiled and 30.2% stated they were about the same.
When asked if their kids were spoiled during the holidays, 19.9% said their gift-giving has gotten out of control, 56.2% said they could cut back on gift-giving, and 23.9% said no because they set limits and stick to them.
Parents planned to spend an average of $271 per child on gifts in 2011, with one in eight spending (12.5%) between $300 and $400. 66.1% would spend about the same, 8% would spend more, and 25.9% would spend less on gifts. Moreover, a total of 76% felt guilty of saying “no” and of those, 57.7% felt a little guilty, but they were open to discussing with their children why some gifts were not possible. 18% said they would ideally like to give their children everything that they ask for and only 24.1% said they never felt guilty.
To get their kids their desired gifts, 43.9% would visit a store multiple times to see if an item is back in stock, 27.9% would visit multiple stores, 0.5% would nab the item from another parent, 12.6% were willing to queue on long lines, 50% would research online until they find it, and 7.2% would pay a premium. Interestingly, 3.8% would do all of the above and 17.7% would do none of the above.
Regarding gratitude, one-quarter of parents never required their children to send thank-you notes, with moms below 30 twice as likely to not require their kids to send such notes than moms above 45-years-old.
Fortunately, parents were willing to intervene when their child showed disappointment over gifts from loved ones. The survey found that 98% of parents would take some action by making the child apologize (68%), reprimanding them (19%), talking about it later (7.6%), apologizing on the child’s behalf (3.5%), or laughing it off because kids will be kids (1.8%).
How to Finally Un-Spoil Your Child
1. Talk About Money
Conversations about money should be age-appropriate. It is recommended to teach your child and instill financial values as early as possible, around two years old, advised Pat Seaman with the National Endowment for Financial Education, as quoted by Sharon Epperson and Katie Young of CNBC, a financial and business news source.
In a 2016 survey of 1,086 parents of eight to 14-year-olds, 71% had some reluctance in discussing financial matters with their children, while 29% were very or extremely reluctant.
Further, 57% of respondents said they spent too much on things their children do not need, reported asset management company T. Rowe Price. 58% were worried that they were spoiling their kids and 57% of children said they expect their parents to buy them whatever they want.
To make your kids become financially smart and less spoiled, Seaman suggests playing "store" to emphasize the idea that money has value and a medium of exchange. You can also give them an allowance to help them realize the importance of saving and earning the things they want. For older children, consider opening up a bank account and teach them how to check it online to help them save money.
2. Lead By Example
You might have made several financial mistakes in your life, but it’s not an excuse. In fact, parents are far more influential in instilling positive money behaviors in their child’s life than part-time jobs and financial education courses, stated Seaman.
Get rid of any negative money behaviors and let your child know that you expect them not to commit the same financial mistakes you have made.
3. Say “No" Without Guilt
In conjunction with a frank conversation about money, be firm about your boundaries and stick to them consistently. Don’t feel guilty about saying “no” to your kid’s demands. Borba reminded, “Don’t let your child’s spoiled ways win. Don’t give into every issue.”
But be sure to set limits with empathy and understanding, said clinical psychologist Laura Markham. She added, “Remember that children accept limits more gracefully if they feel warmly connected to the parent.”
4. Practice Gratitude
Marriage and family therapist LeNaya Smith Crawford suggested spending a few minutes at the dinner table or before bedtime to be thankful for the non-material things in your lives. Smith Crawford suggested to go around in a circle and name the intangible things your family is grateful for and “one experience that day you were grateful for." This way, you can teach your kids about gratitude and acknowledging all good experiences each day.
5. Help Them Be Considerate of Others and Appreciate the Things In Life
Shift the focus to “we” when your child goes into “me” mode.” Borba said to look for those “we” moments such as asking how their dad feels or volunteering at the soup kitchen. Tell them there’s plenty of joy in the little things in life such as being in nature or spending quality time with loved ones.
Smith Crawford noted, “Finding daily time to play and connect with your children is one of the greatest things a parent can do to curb most behaviors.”
It’s okay to give your kids whatever they want during special occasions but you should also teach them to be thankful for your actions. Talking about finances helps so your child knows how money is earned and saved. Every parent wants the best for their little one, but be sure to exercise mindfulness.