12 Signs That You May Be Raising a Spoiled Child

No parent dreams about raising a spoiled kid. But sometimes the parental desire to give their children only the best and make their lives as comfortable and secure as possible may cause results that definitely aren’t in line with their original parenting plan.

We at Bright Side were determined to find out how parents can tell if a situation is getting out of control. It turned out that child psychologists have been working on this problem for a long time. They call it “The Spoiled Child Syndrome” that is characterized by certain patterns of a child’s behavior. We studied related scientific sources and wrote down some of the signs of this syndrome. At the end of the article, you’ll find a bonus: 4 questions from a psychologist that will give you the reassurance that you’re raising your child right.

The child is polite with other people but you never hear “thank you” addressed to you.

The child shows good manners with other people but doesn’t express any gratitude to family members. Well, it may be a sign that the child is spoiled. Children forget to say “thank you” not intentionally or because they want to hurt somebody, but just because they sincerely take everything their family does for them for granted.

Psychologists believe that such behavior can cause problems with building interpersonal relationships in the future because parents haven’t taught the child to be grateful to those closest and dearest to them.

The child can’t deal with simple household chores.

Any responsible parent should help their child become independent. At the age of 3, children can pick up their toys. At the age of 5, they can help with small chores. At the age of 10, they can peel potatoes and make some dinner out of it for the whole family. If all the attempts to engage the child in household chores fail because the child doesn’t want, can’t, or isn’t eager to learn how to do something and parents put up with such behavior, it’s a sign that the child is spoiled.

According to statistics, modern children at the age of 3-12 spend about 3 hours per week helping with household duties (by the way, they spend no less than 14 hours sitting in front of the computer). But if the child doesn’t have any responsibilities, how can they deal with adult life? In the end, parents deprive their children of essential skills and life hacks that will be useful in life.

The child doesn’t get along with peers and is sure that they behave the wrong way.

When communicating with other children, a spoiled child isn’t aware that they can’t just receive things from others without giving them something in return. The inability to take the needs of others into consideration and a lack of empathy make their peers not want to hang out with them. So the child starts to feel uncomfortable and can’t explain what’s wrong so they blame others because they behave “wrong”.

If peers distance themselves from a child and children of the family’s friends try to find an excuse to skip play dates, it’s probably time to figure out what’s going wrong.

The child often throws tantrums when they don’t get what they want.

Parents shouldn’t diminish this obvious sign. It seems like everyone knows that such behavior is common for spoiled children. But it’s not that simple! Toddlers often don’t know how to express their emotions and can’t deal with them, resulting in getting tired easily. So they cry, whine, act resentful, get on the floor, and throw a tantrum. But it’s fine, they just need some help and reassurance.

If the child has reached school age but still acts like a baby, choosing the right time to burst in tears, they are certainly manipulating their parents. Remember that if after a confrontation the parents feel empty and exhausted but the child gets what they wanted and looks pretty happy, something is going wrong in the relationship.

The child doesn’t like activities that involve competition.

Psychologists made us believe that we should raise our children as champions and that every child should get to be rewarded as not to be traumatized. Well, surprise — they’ve changed their minds! Parents should teach the child an important lesson that we all lose from time to time, so there’s nothing to be ashamed of and the child should accept it with dignity.

Parents often go easy on spoiled children and don’t teach them to enjoy the competition. So when the child realizes that in real life they aren’t always the best, they prefer to refuse to participate in any competition.

The child talks to their parents like they do to their peers, and it has nothing to do with “being friends” with them.

Let’s face it: if a child is spoiled, it’s not their fault, it’s their parents’. They’ve failed to set boundaries, make strict rules, and didn’t give any direction in life. As a result, the child doesn’t feel parental authority. They believe that they have the same place in a family hierarchy (and maybe even higher) as their parents so they can act in a disrespectful and presumptuous manner.

Surprisingly, the child has low self-esteem and lacks confidence.

Have you ever wanted to show your child that they’re special and make everyone around you proud of their achievements? Would you like to be a superhero who can destroy all the obstacles in your child’s way? A psychologist named Amy McCready who wrote the book, The Me, Me, Me Epidemic! believes that when parents act this way, they deprive the child of an opportunity to build confidence in themselves, learn from their mistakes, and overcome difficulties. Spoiled children have to face the real world but when they don’t get a familiar reaction, they get confused, don’t understand how they can fix the situation, and start to doubt themselves.

The child wants to occupy all of your free time.

A spoiled child strongly depends on their family members. In this situation, children are the center of the family’s universe so parents become a source of happiness for them as well. It’s important to pay enough attention to the children but they should also understand that their parents have their own needs. When family life revolves around a kid’s wishes, it’s a sure sign that the child is spoiled.

The child doesn’t recognize authority and often argues with adults.

Have you ever met parents who always protect their children and look after their interests if someone accuses their kids of doing something wrong? On the one hand, it’s a natural pattern of behavior but if parents don’t discuss the situation with the child behind closed doors after the incident and just keep blaming teachers and other adults, the child may start feeling like they can get away with anything. They may think that they’re always right and other people are just fools who don’t know anything. Besides, the parents aren’t authority figures for a spoiled child, so there’s no chance they’ll respect anyone else.

The child doesn’t understand the value of money.

Modern marketing specialists know that there are many ways to make children believe that they need something. Advertisements affect children more negatively in comparison to adults. That’s why it’s important to teach them how they can resist social pressure. The child should understand that money doesn’t appear out of nowhere and parents have to work hard to earn it. When parents try to protect their children from such “complicated” matters, they may end up raising a spoiled child who believes that their wishes are more important than the family budget.

The study shows that spoiled children are less likely to be financially independent and have a higher chance of ending up in debt when they grow up. They get used to the fact that all their wishes come true without any effort from their side so they take out loans to fulfill their cravings for things but don’t think in advance about how they’re going to pay off the debt.

The child often complains that they’re bored.

Even a 1-year-old can concentrate on one task for about 15 minutes. By the age of 3, children usually can entertain themselves. If the child doesn’t know how to deal with their boredom and is always waiting until someone shows up and becomes their personal animator, it’s another sign of a spoiled child. How are these factors all connected? For example, there’s a study that the more toys the child has, the more difficult it is for them to concentrate on a game and develop their creativity.

The child can’t control their emotions.

We all fail to deal with our emotions sometimes but spoiled children don’t even have the chance to learn how to control themselves. They suffer from major mood swings and show the same infantile attitude, even when they get older. They see every problem as drama, their good mood is overwhelming, and they can’t suppress tears or laughter. They didn’t get used to controlling their temper, analyzing their behavior, or talking about their experiences and feelings. For them, the only way to express their emotions is through vivid demonstration.


The author of the book, How Much Is Enough? Money and the Good Life by Ph.d. David Bredehoft suggests that parents who are unsure if they should give the child what they want should ask themselves these questions:

  • Will it contribute to the child’s development?
  • Do I do it for the child and not for my own comfort?
  • Will we have to spend a disproportionate amount of the family’s resources (time, money, and effort) that could’ve been used for something more important?
  • Will it harm anyone?

If you answered “yes” to the first 2 questions and “no” to the last 2, feel free to give your child what they’ve asked for.

Of course, what can be easier than giving advice on how to bring up other people’s kids? But sometimes it’s essential to get a second impartial opinion. What other actions of a child may indicate that they’re spoiled?

Illustrated by Marat Nugumanov for Bright Side
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