Worried Your Child is Spoiled? (You Can’t Always Get What You Want.)

Posted November 10, 2011 by

Photo of melissa-a

Recently, my parents sent my sons E and M a gift, and then cards came a few days later. When E saw the cards, he said “There’s no gift!” I explained to him that he got the gift a few days prior, and he dropped the subject. However, this is just one example of a series of mannerisms and expectations of a spoiled child.  This is the child whom I take to Target and he begs me to buy him everything he sees.

My husband and I have been giving our kids an allowance for helping around the house. Each pretend dollar we give them is equivalent of a quarter, so four of these would amount to a dollar. Whenever E asks us for things, we tell him how many of his pretend dollars would help pay for that item, so he understands the value of money. We like to get things for the kids and now that Hanukkah is around the corner, we’re stocking up on little items for each night. However, it is difficult to take E shopping when he is all about his own needs. If I look at items for his sister or brother, he gets mad and tells me we’re taking too long. Then he asks to buy things that he doesn’t need or will probably never use once it arrives home. (He’s been asking us for a cell phone lately. He’s 6 — who is he going to call?) Usually trips to the store result in tantrums where I’m informed that I NEVER get him ANYTHING! He also asks me to ask my parents to buy him expensive items if I refuse to buy them for him myself.

There’s also the matter of places to go. E really wants to go to Disney World and reminds us of this fact every day. He even wrote a note to my husband for his upcoming birthday. He wished him a happy birthday and then asked if we could go to Disney World. Another time, E and M were arguing over which restaurant to go to for dinner. My husband flipped a coin and went over the rules of the coin flip, explaining that the other had to accept where we were going, even if it wasn’t their top choice. M won the coin toss and E burst into tears, begging us to go to his choice the next day. There have been other times when E doesn’t get his way when it comes to going out and he has a similar reaction. Lately, he’s been pouting and saying “That’s SUPER not fair” when he doesn’t get his way. I usually tell him that life is not always fair and it’s going to be even more difficult as he gets older.

We love our children and will do anything for them — within reason. Therefore, we are not sure how to curb E’s sense of entitlement and also keep M and our baby from becoming spoiled as they get older. I have tried talking to E about how there are kids who don’t have any toys at all and I ask him to look through his toys to see what he can donate. He has a hard time parting with items, even if he doesn’t look at them anymore. As soon as I want to pack them up and ship them off, he gets upset that a toy he completely forgot about is in the box.

We are open to suggestions for how to teach the fine art of “not getting everything you want” to E before he becomes even more demanding. Any good advice?


Melissa A. and her husband have 2 young sons, E and M, and a new baby daughter. Melissa's son E has hearing loss and wears a cochlear implant. Melissa works as an administrative assistant for a non-profit and also runs a bullying prevention group and a book-related fan group, in addition to blogging for Empowering Parents. You can check out Melissa’s personal blog here.

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  1. Notamother (Edit) Report

    Okay. I read the article above because I wanted to know what, if anything, I should get my two spoiled grandchildren by marriage for Christmas. I am not a parent, however, I thought it was common sense NOT to give your child everything they want from the beginning so you would not have these problems as they get older. My stepson & his wife did not do this, so now their children think they should get all that they ask for. I am just going by how I was brought up I guess. Doesn’t a child need to learn respect for the parent & giving rather than receiving? I see this problem more often than not in today’s child-rearing age. Too-bad more common sense isn’t used by parents of today.

  2. Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor (Edit) Report

    To ‘ifeoma’: It can be really frustrating when your child acts out in school. Many parents feel frustrated because they see this as a reflection on them. It’s important to remember that your son may be acting out because he is experiencing problems at school that he does not know how to solve effectively, so he resorts to fighting, loaning money, and selling his belongings to other students. When kids have trouble at school, it’s best to start off by letting your child experience the natural consequences that occur for the behavior at school, such as talking to the principal or detention. At home, the most effective thing for you to do is problem solve with him to help him learn new skills to use going forward. This is the key to behavior change. With the Play Station situation, it would be best to put all of his other privileges on hold, talk about what he will do differently next time, and then require him to give you the money he made from selling the Play Station. This money should not be used to purchase a new one. Rather, if he wants a new one, he should have to earn the money on his own. We wish you luck as you work through this. Take care.

  3. ifeoma (Edit) Report

    my 11years old boy took my money to school and borrowed it o his friends,secondly i stopped giving him money for school and he took his play station to school to sell to his friend for some money,how do i punish him?

  4. SupermomWannabe (Edit) Report

    Oh yeah, I get the crying in the store often, from my 4-yr-old. Truth is I very often walk away, not getting her what she wants. I honestly do not give in once I have told her no, and then she acts up. Even so, she will still melt down often, not accepting of my answer. I think there is an age correlation to some extent, during which time they just do not want to hear no, and are learning that everything doesn’t revolve around them and that’s a tough lesson that comes slowly… it is a learning curve for sure!

  5. MommyMac (Edit) Report

    My son used to be the same way, and I realized that it was because I let him have his way all the time. I would go to the store and he’d cry and ask for toys and I would buy him something just keep him from having a melt-down in the store. I soon realized that he was playing me. He knew that if he threw a temper-tantrum, than he would get what he wanted. It will take some time and you might even get a little embarrassed a few times in the store or other places in public, but you MUST stick to your guns. If you tell him “No”, stick to it and don’t give in. After a while, he will understand that you mean business and the whining and demanding will stop.



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