Development Physical & Emotional

5 Signs Of A Spoiled Child (And What To Do About It)

As a parent it’s only natural that you hate seeing your little one unhappy, and this can lead to mom and dad giving in easily and saying yes to more things than they should.

But the trouble with not being firm enough with a child is that it can encourage spoilt behavior, which is clearly something no parent wants to see.

We all know that children can misbehave and act up from time to time – that’s a natural part of being a kid – but do you have a niggling feeling that your child is a little too spoiled or overindulged?

And if you do, what can you do to reverse this behavior and prevent spoiling them even further?

Read on to discover the most common sings of a spoilt child, and what you can do to improve and eventually eradicate this unwanted characteristic.

5 Signs Your Child May Be Spoilt

It’s not always easy to spot the signs of a spoilt child, especially when it’s your own child’s behavior that you are trying to assess.

However, given spoiled children may experience problems with anger management, professionalism and unhappiness as adults, it’s important that parents know what traits to look out for in early life.

Some of the most common behavioral traits of a spoiled child include:

1. Cannot Take No For An Answer

Not taking no for an answer can be a valuable trait, and you’ve probably heard a lot of successful people state that their results can be largely attributed to their determination and resilience over the years.

But there’s a big difference between being strong-willed and resilient, and simply not being able to deal with a parent or caregiver who say no to a request that a child may have.

A spoilt child is likely to have frequent meltdowns or tantrums when they are denied something, however unreasonable the child’s expectations may be.

If you child is very young – let’s say toddler age – then you may be able to excuse some of this behavior and put it down to tiredness, hunger or some other factor.

But if your child hasn’t outgrown this behavior after they are around 3 or 4 years of age, then it’s a big red flag that they may be spoilt.

boy in white and yellow crew-neck t-shirt

2. Tantrums

We all dislike it to some degree when we don’t get our way or when we don’t receive exactly what we wanted.

A spoilt child however cannot deal with the disappointment of not getting their way, and this in turn leads to emotions like frustration and anger, which manifests in visible outwards displays include crying, shouting or hitting – none of which are pretty to observe.

3. Rarely Satisfied

Much like an ungrateful child, a kid that is spoilt is likely to want more, not matter how good they’ve got it.

If we’re talking about a young child, an example is you give them one piece of candy or chocolate, and they want two.

And if we’re talking about an older child or teenager, an example would be you let them watch one hour of television, and they want two – you get the picture.

4. Exhibits Selfish Traits

If your child acts like the world revolves around them, this is another red flag that they may have been overindulged up to this point.

Acting entitled and self-centred are two common signs that a child may be spoilt, along with a general lack of respect towards others (and especially those that are helping them such as their parents, relatives, friends or teachers).

boy standing on gray concrete road while tongue out

5. Refuses To Help

Does your child often refuse to tidy their toys or put things away in their room?

Or if they are a little older, is it impossible to get them to do a household chore such as cleaning the dishes or taking out the trash?

Refusing or being unwilling to help others is another tell tale sign to look out for, especially if your child expects a bribe or reward to do even the most simple tasks such as brushing their teeth or putting their toys where they belong.

How To Deal With A Spoiled Child

Now you know what to look out for in a spoilt kid, the next vital step is understanding what you can do to reverse this behavior.

The good news is that typically a spoilt attitude is a learned behavior, and as such is can be unlearned.

It won’t be easy and will likely take time, but with consistency and perseverance here are 5 things you can do to teach your chid to be more caring, considerate and grounded.

1. Don’t Be Afraid Or Feel Guilty To Say No

We all need boundaries in our lives, and your child is no different.

In fact, because they are child, your little one needs you to put firm rules in place for them.

As we mentioned earlier, it’s completely normal for mom or dad to want their child to be happy and to have everything they want.

But this can lead to the unsavory behavior if overdone.

Saying no to your child in the knowledge that it will lead them being temporarily sad or disappointed is a horrible feeling, especially if you know it will result in crying or a full on tantrum.

But don’t be afraid (or feel guilty) to say no to your child when it’s the right thing to do, and when you do tell them no, try to explain why you’re taking that stance as this should help them eventually understand why these boundaries and rules exist.

toddler opening her mouth

2. Encourage Compassion & Generosity

Spoilt children tend to be selfish, so a great way to reverse this trait is to encourage them to show generosity towards others.

The key here is to do activities where there is giving without expecting anything back in return.

Volunteering (for example in a soup kitchen) or baking and selling cookies for charity are great ways to help develop and instil a sense of empathy in your child.

Another excellent example is donating (in person) some unwanted toys to a local children’s hospital ward, because activities like these will widen their perspective and should help your child appreciate just how lucky they are.

3. Avoid Empty Threats

Empty threats – we’ve all given them before, and deep down we realize they can be damaging in the long term.

You tell your child they can’t have dessert until they eat their vegetables, but we give in anyway and allow them to have a sweet treat without fulfilling their end of the bargain.

Kids are smart, savvy and cunning, and it doesn’t take long for them to see that your threat holds no value, so as a result they don’t believe there is any need to listen to you or change their behavior.

It’s a good idea to therefore think very carefully before making an ultimatum, and to only say things that you truly intend on seeing through.

This can be a hard habit to break, but it’s well worth it in your bid to change your kid’s behavior.

4. Encourage Patience

If you immediately fulfill every small ask or demand that your child makes, it typically leads them be impatient, which isn’t a good thing when that time comes around when your child doesn’t get what they want.

When your little one is waiting for mom or dad to do something trivial that they’ve asked for, try making them wait a little bit longer and explain that you’re busy.

This should help them appreciate that the world does not revolve around them, and that they cannot expect to have whatever they want, whenever they want.

grayscale photo of woman in black turtleneck sweater

5. Stay Firm & Consistent

Finally, in your bid to reverse or eliminate spoiled behavior, it’s very important that you stay strong and consistent with the messages that you give your child.

This means both parents or caregivers should be on the same page and united at all times.

For example, if your child cannot get what they want from mom, it should make no difference if they ask dad for the same thing, because dad’s answer should be the same as mom’s.

This is easier said than done, especially if your child has a habit of wearing you down over time, and may be difficult during those times when you are tired or just don’t have the energy to put up a strong resistance.

But just like empty threats, it’s important to show consistency even if it leads to a meltdown or temporary unhappiness, because children need and rely on those boundaries in order to know where they stand and to help them understand what you expect from them.

Related: Navigating Your Child’s Early Development

Tori is mama to 3 year old Isabella and co-founder of Rockinbaby. She has a BSc in Psychology, is a certified yoga teacher and is a working mom. In her free time Tori loves cooking delicious foods and baked treats, entertaining and working out. Learn more about Tori here.

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