How I Will Not Raise A Spoiled Child

Photo by MindaugasDanys/ Flickr (Under Creative Commons license)

It happens a lot,  children get spoiled and by grandparents especially, they are the big culprits. I am personally not a fan of spoiling. Apart from the odd matchbox car I put in the trolley during the occasional grocery shop, gifts are given on special occasions.

I was prompted to write this post after having a conversation with someone who felt that ‘spoiling’ was OK and that she did it with her kids and they turned out fine. Perhaps she was lucky?
To me, spoiling children is not only showering them with gifts, especially when they haven’t asked for it, but it’s also letting them ‘get away with murder’ so to speak. I’m sure we are all guilty of simply not having the energy and give in to a tantrum throwing child every now and then, but letting children make the rules and letting them get what they want is also a form of spoiling.

You Don’t Always Get What You Want

The problem with spoiling children from my point of view is that it really doesn’t set them up for the real world, you don’t always get what you want in the real world unless you work hard for it and have patience. Children must understand that inputs determine outcomes. I don’t want to raise a child who expects to be given everything by his parents when he is an adult and can work for it himself.  I’m not saying I won’t help out when he needs it, but there’s a difference.

Spoil Intrinsically not Extrinsically

By all means, spoil your children with encouraging words and love, intrinsic things that instill values, a sense of achievement and pride, but limit extrinsically motivated behaviour by giving toys, rewarding with money and so on.

Set Goals
I recall having a discussion with a friend of mine whose son is in primary school and who is going through the stage of coming home requesting particular gadgets because ‘the boy at schools parents bought him one’. Unfortunately these days this seems to be happening too often with new technologies about, it’s all want, want, want. I think it’s really important to teach children that you don’t just get these things. Firstly, they cost money and secondly, to get something as valuable as this, you must work for it. It’s about teaching kids that if they want nice things, they must set goals in order to get them. Parents should also be responsible for helping set the goals too and start small, take baby steps. But remember, they should be the child’s goals and not the parents goals. 

Don’t Satisfy their List

My young nephews, bless them, wrote out their lists to Santa this year which many children do, it was so sweet to read through them. As their Aunty, I’ve selected a couple of items from the list as I’d much prefer to buy them something they’d like as opposed to something that will end up in the back of the cupboard. But this made me think, when Elliott comes to the age when he writes present requests to Santa, I think it will be best not to buy him everything on his list because if I do, it will be spoiling. Elliott must realise that when it comes to the real world, he will not get everything he asks for without hard work and perseverance. I’m still working on the grandparents, but I know that grandparents will spoil and it’s my responsibility as Elliotts parent to set the limits. This year, I’ve specifically requested ‘no toys’ and ‘educational items’ only.

Say No and Set Limits
And finally, the thing I find hardest, is saying no. Elliott wont like it and will throw a tantrum, but he’ll get over it eventually, it will all be forgotten.

All of these steps are quite easy really if I stick to them, I want to make sure I play my part in helping Elliott develop into a well-rounded adult who understands that life is about setting goals and working hard to get what he wants. He may not realise it when his young, but it will make a world of difference when he’s older.

What are your views on spoiling?

Linking up with Jess for #IBOT

This post was Featured on and Won iBlog Fridays at 20th December 2013.
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Eva Lewis (The Multitasking Woman)

Eva Lewis (The Multitasking Woman)

Eva is the Editor and Owner of The Multitasking Woman. She always has her fingers in many different pies but wouldn't have it any other way. Eva is a freelance writer, a social media manager, a Mum to her six-year-old son, one-year-old daughter, six chickens and Benny the dog and wife to Mr G. They all live happily in their little worker's cottage in Ipswich, Queensland, Australia.
Eva Lewis (The Multitasking Woman)

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  1. December 16, 2013 / 9:09 pm

    There is a certain someone in my life who was (and still is) spoilt and it is appalling to see how she lives her life as a grown woman, a married mother of two. She still expects everything from her parents – and, unfortunately, still gets it.

  2. December 16, 2013 / 10:09 pm

    hmmm, I think it’s not so simple to do, but worth keeping in mind. People say it’s great to take kids to poorer countries so they realised how lucky they are, but kids don’t register it in the same way. Even visiting schools, etc, they don’t seem to personalise it.
    We give things to charity and I get the kids involved but they don’t seem to make the ‘but for the grace of god go I’ connection.
    Our kids are spoilt because they have food, housing, clothes and so on. I think the saying NO and being strong on it is more important than the gifts and getting what’s on their list. NO is hard to hear in any language.

  3. December 16, 2013 / 10:10 pm

    interesting post, btw

  4. December 16, 2013 / 10:55 pm

    I too am anti-spoiling. It’s difficult sometimes seeing other kids have so many awesome toys, and watching my son eye them so wistfully. I could easily buy him anything at the drop a hat because I do want to shower him with anything that would bring a smile to his face… one side of me instinctively wants to. But it takes another side of me to stop that urge at times and remind myself that the kind of happiness that is gotten from having ‘stuff’ is only temporal. I’ve witnessed my son’s imagination develop so wonderfully from making more out of less

    • December 23, 2013 / 2:43 am

      You’re so right Serene, there is an instinct that makes us feel that we’d love to buy them lots and it’s tough but so important to teach them to understand otherwise.

  5. December 17, 2013 / 11:59 am

    So well said! We need to parent with a long term view and not just a ‘right now view.’ We are preparing out children to be adults in the real world, and it’s important we don’t lose sight of that.

  6. December 17, 2013 / 3:26 pm

    I hear you on the Santa list. I’m not buying everything on my daughter’s list as I want to send her the message she won’t get everything in life. My younger cousins are very spoilt (too much watching the Kardashians etc) and they expect everything to be handled on a silver plate once they finish school!

    • December 23, 2013 / 2:44 am

      It makes me sick to hear about children (teenagers) holding their hands out. I don’t know if it was also how I was brought up, but I never did that. Once I could pay my own way, I remember the feeling of accomplishment when I could pay with my own money.

  7. December 17, 2013 / 11:31 pm

    Brilliant post Eva, I agree so much with all that you have said. I know it is meant to be each to there own when it comes to parenting but I think the spoilers have it wrong.

    Leaving some fairy wishes and butterfly kisses from #teamIBOT

  8. December 18, 2013 / 5:46 am

    I agree with you Eva and you have composed this post so well. I think however as you say the reality at times is hard to maintain especially with other people giving things to our kids also. I am trying really hard to stay consistent with my threats so my boys learn the boundaries and realise when I say no I mean no. I think however as long as you are instilling good values in your child and explaining all the no’s and why’s then they will do ok At least I hope as I tend to just wing it in this parenting thing.

    • December 23, 2013 / 2:46 am

      Thanks Sarah. Yep, when there are others involved, like family members, it is tough. You’re right about consistency, that’s very important and something I’m mindful of.

  9. December 18, 2013 / 10:17 am

    I sometimes think there is a difference between spoiling and indulging. I know plenty of children who are indulged, who some would consdier spoilt. But they are appreciative and thankful for everything they are given, so it is a pleasure for their parents to indulge them.
    I know other children who take for granted and are arrogant or dismissive of the wonderful things in their lives, and so it is frustrating for parents to give of their time or resources.
    I actually think there is no fine line for spoiling, I feel you have to respond to the child and the values they have developed.

    • December 23, 2013 / 2:48 am

      I think the underlying thing here is with the values we teach our children and being thankful for what they have, so just as you say, if they are indulged, they don’t take it for granted and show their appreciation.

  10. December 18, 2013 / 12:17 pm

    So far mine aren’t that bad at being told no, especially our middle boy, he just gave away a present he got for Santa to a girl who was sad because her parents made her girl away her toy – but it’s a fine line I agree. I don’t spoil them, but for example, my 5.5 year old has asked for those bloody horrible Roll Ups for YEARS AND YEARS and I’ve always said no – one day I said yes and she was so happy. It made me realise I was right to say no more than yes! Merry Christmas to you and yours Eva 🙂

    • December 23, 2013 / 2:50 am

      That’s such a lovely gesture that your son showed and goes to show you are doing it right. It’s so easy to just say yes isn’t it after saying no for so long, but then you see all of your persistence go out the window, but it happens. Merry Christmas Emily and thanks for commenting.

  11. December 18, 2013 / 8:32 pm

    great post. I think spoiling stops our kids learning resilience and empathy, the two most important things in my book

  12. December 19, 2013 / 10:39 pm

    Great post Eva. As I read this post, my son is demanding that I take him a rice cracker to him on the sofa. It would be easy for me to do but I’m teaching him how to get things himself. Love the spoil intrinsically rather than extrinsically point. x

  13. December 20, 2013 / 12:03 am

    It doesn’t hurt them to say no, doesn’t stop them asking though! It makes them appreciate what they do get, and realise that money doesn’t grow on trees. It has me baffled sometimes the amount of money(and where it comes from) that some people spend on their kids.

    • December 23, 2013 / 2:51 am

      I hear you Alicia! I saw a thread on Facebook asking how much people spend on their children at Christmas and I was gobsmacked!

  14. December 20, 2013 / 12:36 am

    I definitely agree with you that we should strive to teach children that input determines outcomes and that we should aim to spoil intrinsically rather than extrinsically. Grandparents really are the worst culprits of the lot, aren’t they??

  15. December 20, 2013 / 12:36 am

    P.S – wishing you and your family a very merry Christmas 🙂

  16. December 20, 2013 / 12:52 pm

    I think you’ve summarised the issue well, a timely read for me cause it has been on my mind. It is all about a long term view but also about picking your battles. There are so many aspects to this parenting gig isn’t there?!?

  17. December 20, 2013 / 10:02 pm

    Totally agree with all of these points. I spoil my daughter with love and cuddles. I’m a big believer in educational toys and if I do buy toys I try to buy the ones that are 6-36 months so she gets long term use out of them.

    • December 23, 2013 / 2:54 am

      Love, cuddles, encouraging words are the best way to spoil! It’s educational toys all the way in our house now too, a big clean up of the ‘other’ toys is in order after Christmas!

  18. December 21, 2013 / 12:20 pm

    I find my father the biggest obstacle when it comes to teaching my children the value of money and hard work, he spoils them something chronic which was fine when we lived overseas and only saw him a couple of times a year but a big problem now we live nearby and see them several times a week. The girls have learned that if I say no, they can ask him and he’ll say yes and despite my trying to lay down the boundaries with him, he refuses to cut back.

  19. December 23, 2013 / 5:44 am

    Spoiling does take many forms – I see it with some friends children, and those children not only don’t appreciate what they get but have a false expectation they deserve it.

    Some children are getting every item on their wish list – and not just on special occasions. Is this spoiling or overindulgence by the parents? Not sure, but the implications for these children as they grow up, could mean that we have many adults who equate good parenting with material possessions, and will they go on to repeat this overindulgence with their own children?