Are you guilty like me? Do you have a child about 5-7 years old and you just realized they are spoiled! OK, you did not JUST realize this. You sort of knew that just maybe you were giving too much and spoiling long ago and perhaps it would catch up to you at some point. I am not talking about no rules or structure, but about buying them too much and taking them out for fun too often that you have created a little greedy monster! I sort of created that monster with my son and am in the process of undoing what I knew was inevitable. I do not want to send him off to first grade feeling so entitled and ‘wanting’ instead of ‘giving’. Here is what I am learning works and does not work with my son.
Help! I Spoiled My Child
A is 6. He is a ‘Mommy’s Boy’ and a lover. He cuddles more now than when he was younger, he loves animals and knows how to be gentle when he needs to be. He loves Ninja’s and fighting, but still tunes into Peppa Pig and Bubble Guppies. He is right at that crest of changing from little boy to big boy. He shines with his affection, but also his stubbornness. His older brother’s are 16 and 22 (my Stepson’s) so he is the baby and the only son I have raised since birth. The older boys have a lot too and they are not left with a sense that Anthony gets more. Those older boys have plenty to be proud of, but Anthony acts the most entitled and has the worst attitude of the 3. I now find his temper tantrums have turned to a mouth that won’t stop and he is the child that wants the last word! He does not speak bad words or say hurtful things, he just can’t turn off the attitude button! Does this sound familiar? “Fine! If you don’t let me have that toy, I am NOT going to bed tonight on time!” or “…you are mean! I never get anything. You never do anything for me!”-this one is typically as he is stomping away from me up the stairs. He will keep going and mumbling and there comes a point that it is just plain disrespectful. How are we correcting it?
We DO NOT fight back.
As parents, we have to keep our feet dug deep into the ground and let the kids do the dancing around us. If we unstick those feet of ours, we become the ones dancing around our kids and all respect is lost. TOGETHER (that is the key word), my husband and I are doing the ‘crack down’. By that, I mean, we have told him he gets no warnings. If he snaps back, he will get punished. He needs to think before he speaks and make a good or bad decision, as we put it to him. A good decision may mean we can talk about a solution together and a bad choice of words may mean he loses his favorite toy for the day or a bedtime game. He may not get what he wants and when that angers him, he needs to know there is no way we will give in and he has a choice to make on how to handle his feelings.
We DO talk about feelings constantly right now.
I always remind him (in the moment) that it is OK to be mad, but it it not OK to do or say the wrong things he may have just portrayed in that given situation. As simple as this sounds, he really changes his attitude best with this approach. That transition from little boy to big boy is one of independence over any other growth. When they are young, we tell them where to go, what to say, how to respond and now they want to make these decisions for themselves. However, it is a learned behavior. Lavishing them with items when young because you could and it made them happy or pacified their good mood for a longer period of time now translates to ‘when we go out, I get something’ and if not ‘why the change? What did I do to deserve nothing all of a sudden?’ They are big boys and girls now, you need to have real conversations now. You cannot realize you are spoiling them then just yank the rug out from under them. This leaves them feeling you are being unfair and you really are! They have feelings now and they are trying to sort these feelings out. Pulling out the rug like that with no explanation of why in any real conversation will only bring out the defiance in them. Wouldn’t it to you as well? What is working for us is Pre-telling (“from now on when I go shopping, I am not going to buy you something just because. I suggest we talk about a chore and allowance chart if you want to buy your own things”), talk about feelings (“It is OK to be mad you cannot watch your show right now, but it is NOT ok to throw the remote and raise your voice. I was going to suggest we record your show to watch later, but after that attitude you just gave me I will not be recording it. Next time you need to make a better choice with your anger”) and rewards (this would be in the form of a chore chart-so they can start working for the things they want).
When they act entitled or selfish due to years of us spoiling them, we tend to begin to have some major concerns. We don’t want our child to be mean to others or pout on the school yard because they are not getting their way. We also don’t want to say things to them such as “no wonder kids are not playing with you. You have a bad attitude when you don’t get your way”! I highly suggest NEVER saying anything like that to them. We may know this is why kids may tend to resent your child lately, but at 5-6-7 years old, those words just translated to “I have no friends. No one likes me. I was mean and now no one wants to ever play with me again”. No matter how you try to set that example, you do not want to leave them feeling alone or vengeful. Instead, come into that back door of their growing brain and teach them at home that good attitudes and good decisions get rewarded and when they have bad attitudes, they get told to leave the room or lose privileges.
When my son’s behavior this past year began to come out to him pouting a lot to other kids and showing them attitude, I dealt with it from home. I told him that his teacher and I have a new system. When she sees you giving your bad attitude to other kids, she is going to email me and you will have a punishment at home. This worked great and cured his playground pouting real fast! I did not have to point out to him that no one wants to play with him. I just had to correct his behavior, teach him different ways to react and the kids came back to him and all was great in no time. Having a spoiled child is stressful, but recognizing it and correcting it in time is easier then you think. Just be prepared to NOT give in and have a plan. Once you have your plan, Do NOT FORGET to discuss it with your child before you start any ‘crack down’. Good luck!