Parenting 101: How Not to Raise a Spoiled Brat

They say that as a parent, you should strive to give nothing but the best to your children. However, it’s possible that in the course of doing so, you end up raising spoiled brats. What line needs to be drawn so you can keep your kids happy and content without overindulging them?

What Is a Spoiled Brat?

Spoiled brats are children who, more often than not, get what they want at any cost. A clinical definition by psychologist James Fogarty comes in four parts. First, spoiled brats are children who are given few chores or none at all. Second, they’re usually in either middle-class or affluent families.

Third, they don’t follow a set of rules given that their parents always want to make life as easy as possible for them. And fourth, their parents shower them with an abundance of material possessions and extravagant experiences.

Signs That a Child Is a Spoiled Brat

Every child goes through a phase where they’re prone to throwing tantrums. With that said, you should know whether this is true for your little one or if they’re just acting up and displaying spoiled behavior. The latter may be the case if your child:

  • Can’t take no for an answer
  • Is never satisfied with their material possessions
  • Throws a fit whenever they don’t get what they want
  • Seeks excessive attention and is self-centered
  • Is controlling and manipulative
  • Doesn’t like losing when playing with friends or siblings
  • Refuses to complete simple tasks

Spoiled Kid vs. Fortunate Kid

Of course, not every rich kid who comes from a middle-class or richer family is spoiled. There’s a distinction between a spoiled child and a fortunate one.

While both types are aware of their parents’ financial status, a spoiled kid may have a sense of entitlement and can often be ungrateful for what they have. They might think it’s their right and privilege to get everything they ask for. In addition, they may not fully understand the concept of give-and-take.

A fortunate kid is someone who is also aware that they come from a rich family. Instead of being greedy, the child is taught to be grateful and appreciate what they have.

How Your Parenting Style Might Lead to Spoiled Kids

There are many parents with rags-to-riches stories. They worked hard and sacrificed a lot to ensure a brighter future for themselves and their children. Due to the hardship they’ve faced, some of them don’t want their kids to feel and go through what they’ve experienced in life.

To accomplish that, they follow a lenient and permissive parenting style. They may choose not to set limitations on their children, and, in turn, allow themselves to be controlled one way or another.

This can apply to parents who are afraid of hurting their child’s feelings and the possibility of being hated by their little one. To avoid such situations, they give in to their child’s demands.

While the impact of this parenting style might not be apparent at home, problems will likely arise once your kids start school. Behaviors such as not sharing toys or being a sore loser may land them in trouble with their peers and even their teachers. They might result in poor school performance, too. Eventually, your kid could become unhappy and more difficult to manage.

Effects of Social Media

A good number of children nowadays have their own social media accounts. Social media has built a culture where anyone, regardless of age, can project enhanced versions of themselves to be seen by other individuals online.

Because many children long to be part of a particular group, if they see a popular trend on certain platforms, they might want to copy it in order to fit it and feel accepted. If the trend has to do with a toy or a gadget, they could demand it from their parents, who could then yield to them. Should this cycle continue, it can result in the spoiling of the child.

Effects of Money on Spoiled Children

Spoiled brats are common in wealthy families because, naturally, their parents’ wealth gives them access to material belongings. However, it would be wrong to say that only rich people are capable of unknowingly spoiling their little ones.

The issue isn’t about how much money parents have in their bank accounts. Rather, it’s about the value of and attitude toward money that they instill in their children. After all, it’s not inherently a bad thing to want money as it’s a necessity for everyday living. There are two general way a parent might explain the role of money in one’s life:

  • Money for selfish purposes: In this scenario, children are taught to love money and to use it to gain status, prestige, and power. They learn that being wealthy means they can acquire or even do whatever they please without thinking of responsibilities or consequences.
  • Money for the good of oneself and others: In this case, children find out that money is gained through hard work, sacrifice, and passion. They are taught that money can be used to not only better themselves but also contribute to the betterment of society.

Children exposed to either concept will treat money differently throughout their lives. Their financial habits will then affect their decisions from day to day as well as their relationships with people.

Expert Tips on How Not to Raise a Spoiled Brat

Kylee Sallak, a parent coach from New York City, noticed that parents of spoiled kids keep repeating the same mistake of giving in to all of their children’s wants. In the long run, this causes their children to be spoiled well into adulthood.

If you don’t want that to happen to your own family, it’s time for you to take teachable moments seriously and make sure your kids understand the importance of money the right way. Keep in mind that this will heavily impact their standpoint on money matters in the future, so it’s best to get started with this as early as possible.

One way to achieve this is by letting your kids have real-life experiences where they can have healthy interactions that have to do with money and other people. Here are some of the ways you can prevent spoiling or perhaps even unspoil your kids:

Be Simple and Humble

The first thing you should remember as a parent is the importance of guiding your children when it comes to what money and material things represent. They have to understand that their value and worth as a person can never be measured in any currency.

Money shouldn’t negatively affect one’s personality, which encompasses characteristics such as modesty and humility, as well as their overall behavior, particularly the way they treat others. Children have to be taught that no one should be labeled or judged based on the brand of clothes they’re wearing or the quality of the food they eat.

Teach Graciousness and Gratefulness Daily

In order to avoid raising a spoiled child, you need to make sure they’re content with what they have. Teach your kids to be grateful for the small things every day and to stop comparing themselves with others. Instruct them to practice empathy by recognizing that people go through different challenges in life and thus should be treated with kindness at all times.

Let Them Do It on Their Own

Seeing your kids fall and fail can be heartbreaking. Despite that, if you help them solve even the problems you know they can figure out on their own, you’ll only make them dependent on you. Early on, they should learn to make good decisions and accept that mistakes are part of being human for them to be prepared for adult life.

Use Allowance as a Teaching Tool

Giving your children a small allowance is a hands-on method of teaching them the value of money. It provides them with the opportunity to learn how to be financially responsible. Let them know that by saving and budgeting, they’ll be able to afford food or toys they like. After some time, they’ll learn about self-control, delayed gratification, and spending money without overdoing it.

Teach Responsibility by Letting Them Work

The fact that nothing comes free in life isn’t innate knowledge. Therefore, you have to convey that message to your children. They should know that life won’t go easy on them and that they need to prepare for the long journey ahead of them. 

One way to impart such lessons is to have them do age-appropriate household chores. You can then set up a reward system based on specific milestones. With this, they’ll make the connection between consistent hard work and positive outcomes.

It’s an equally good idea to encourage older children to take a summer job. In doing so, they’ll see what it truly takes to earn a living. They’ll also learn how to get along with their coworkers from different backgrounds. What’s more, they’ll gain practical skills that’ll prove useful throughout their lives.

Differentiate Needs From Wants

Understandably, younger kids wouldn’t know right away what it means to want something as opposed to needing it. As a parent, you might be tempted to give them what they want for the sake of appeasing them. 

However, it would be better for your child to learn how to distinguish between needs and wants. Help them see the benefits of prioritizing the former and working hard for the latter. Once they’re capable of that, they won’t throw tantrums or feel bad just because they didn’t get or do certain things right away. They’ll likely become more patient and make wiser decisions when using their money for purchases.

You have to start them young so they have enough time to absorb and apply this valuable lesson. You might be surprised at how motivated your children can be in earning their wants, which might just boost their self-esteem over time.

Set a Good Example

Teaching children about money and how it should be used responsibly can be difficult for parents. While family discussions and one-on-one talks are perfectly fine, words may not always be enough for kids to comprehend financial concepts because they learn best through example.

You have to become a role model for them given that everywhere they go, they’ll interact with people who have different perspectives on money. They could pick up money habits that are the opposite of what you’ve taught them, and this might be confusing for them. Tread the right path for them to follow while making sure that they don’t get lost along the way.

Remember That You’re Their Parent, Not Their Friend

A good piece of advice from Warren Buffet that you can learn from is this: Children of wealthy parents should inherit enough that they have the financial freedom to do almost anything for a living but not so much that they don’t have to do anything.

Affluent individuals like Buffet believe that leaving a big inheritance won’t do their children much good. They want their kids to thrive using their own skills and intellect, so instead of promising them large sums of money, they give them the means to start a comfortable life. These include sending their kids to the best schools, which paves the way for many opportunities in the future.

Children could become entitled if they expect to inherit a lot from their parents. They might find it pointless or tedious to find a job or start a business. For those reasons, you have to educate them accordingly on money-related matters.

Reward With Experience Instead of Material Things

Due to the instant gratification that many children are exposed to today, there’s a chance that they’ll become spoiled. If they keep getting their own way, they could start believing that the rest of the world should bow down to them. Parents can combat this by converting objects into rewards to strive for rather than spontaneous gifts.

However, material things will eventually wear down, and your children might get tired of them only after a short period. It’s therefore more enriching to invest a bit of time and validate good behavior by providing experiences they’ll remember for a lifetime.

When your kids do well in school, bring them to their favorite place, be it the local zoo or an amusement park. After a day of chores around the house, gather the entire family for movie night. Not only will they enjoy themselves, but you’ll also be able to steer clear of expensive purchases.


No parent wants to see their child unhappy, but that doesn’t mean you have to succumb to their every whim just to put a smile on their face. While it’s all right to buy them toys that catch their eye or let them take a break from chores every now and then, it’s a must to limit what they can have or do. This way, they’ll grow up responsible and appreciative of their circumstances. 

You have to instill in your children that wealth isn’t a right or privilege–it’s something that’s earned through hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. Do everything you can so they’ll be financially responsible and develop a healthy relationship with money.

Keep this in mind: Kids who are entitled aren’t born that way; it’s their parents who make them so. You should be mindful every step of the way so you won’t unintentionally spoil your little one.

Counseling Now is here to guide you in managing your children’s behavior. Therapists in Ohio have the experience and expertise to help you overcome various parenting challenges. You can count on the professionals at Counseling Now to advise you on how to raise an unspoiled child and, consequently, better contribute to their growth and development.

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