What exactly is a spoiled child? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 21 Old 01-31-2011, 11:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm curious to know what other parents think about this. It's something I hear often from other parents."Stop acting like a spoiled brat" or "he/she's just spoiled." What exactly does being spoiled mean to you?

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#2 of 21 Old 01-31-2011, 11:29 AM
 
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To me, "spoiled" means that the child has a sense of entitlement, lack of empathy, lack of gratitude, and self-centeredness beyond what's age-appropriate, and that has been encouraged by his parents. All toddlers are selfish! All eight-year-olds think the world revolves around them to a degree! But a kid who simply can't deal with not getting his own way after most of his peers have learned otherwise, and not because of developmental problems but because he's never had to be considerate to other people, IMO has been harmed by his parents. A 10-year-old who can't stand seeing another kid get a present at the other kid's birthday party, or who throws a new phone across the room because it's not as expensive as the one he wanted, or who throws a fit when he loses a board game because his parents always let him win ...

 

All kids can seem selfish or ungrateful sometimes, and some kids have bigger challenges to overcome than others, so it's usually not obvious with someone else's child whether he's actually spoiled or whether something else is going on.

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#3 of 21 Old 01-31-2011, 11:38 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Thalia the Muse View Post

To me, "spoiled" means that the child has a sense of entitlement, lack of empathy, lack of gratitude, and self-centeredness beyond what's age-appropriate, and that has been encouraged by his parents. All toddlers are selfish! All eight-year-olds think the world revolves around them to a degree! But a kid who simply can't deal with not getting his own way after most of his peers have learned otherwise, and not because of developmental problems but because he's never had to be considerate to other people, IMO has been harmed by his parents. A 10-year-old who can't stand seeing another kid get a present at the other kid's birthday party, or who throws a new phone across the room because it's not as expensive as the one he wanted, or who throws a fit when he loses a board game because his parents always let him win ...

 

All kids can seem selfish or ungrateful sometimes, and some kids have bigger challenges to overcome than others, so it's usually not obvious with someone else's child whether he's actually spoiled or whether something else is going on.


Yes.  I agree with this.  A child that has adults who will move the world to make them happy.  A child who's never known disappointment, a child who never cares if someone else is hurt or sad because "Hey, it isn't me".  

 

I can ALWAYS blame bad parenting.  Parents who are afraid of their child's wrath, so they'd rather let their child be cruel to someone else rather than step in.  Sometimes it's that the parents just don't care... they are tired, and not equipped for parenting, other times, they just love little centeroftheuniverse so much that they can't bear to think of her being sad or disappointed.  

 

But, if you don't really know that child, and you don't see them every day, there's a good chance that it's a bad day, or there's something going on at home, or the child has been sick.  Mom or dad might truly BE too tired that day to discipline or intervene.  I remember when I moved, I was so exhausted from the move, I really didn't care if the kids lit the park on fire.  Just as long as they went to play and gave me 20 minutes of peace and quiet.

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#4 of 21 Old 01-31-2011, 02:43 PM
 
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To me it means a child whose whims and emotions control their parents every move, and who has learned that the right amount of tantruming will result in getting exactly what they want, all the time.

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#5 of 21 Old 01-31-2011, 04:45 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Thalia the Muse View Post

To me, "spoiled" means that the child has a sense of entitlement, lack of empathy, lack of gratitude, and self-centeredness beyond what's age-appropriate, and that has been encouraged by his parents. All toddlers are selfish! All eight-year-olds think the world revolves around them to a degree! But a kid who simply can't deal with not getting his own way after most of his peers have learned otherwise, and not because of developmental problems but because he's never had to be considerate to other people, IMO has been harmed by his parents. A 10-year-old who can't stand seeing another kid get a present at the other kid's birthday party, or who throws a new phone across the room because it's not as expensive as the one he wanted, or who throws a fit when he loses a board game because his parents always let him win ...

 

All kids can seem selfish or ungrateful sometimes, and some kids have bigger challenges to overcome than others, so it's usually not obvious with someone else's child whether he's actually spoiled or whether something else is going on.


I was just going to say that it meant a child with a raging sense of entitlement, but this is better. I agree.


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#6 of 21 Old 01-31-2011, 07:50 PM
 
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Yeah, what the PP said mostly.

 

I've never seen a child like this in real life though. At the very least, it's way more common on TV. I suspect a person would have to be a sociopath to actually fit Thalia's description. (According to Martha Stout, clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School, 4% of people are secretly sociopaths, defined as someone without a conscience.) The closest I've seen to this is my younger sister, who definitely did not have the stereotypically permissive parents!

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#7 of 21 Old 01-31-2011, 08:57 PM
 
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Yeah, what the PP said mostly.

 

I've never seen a child like this in real life though. At the very least, it's way more common on TV. I suspect a person would have to be a sociopath to actually fit Thalia's description. (According to Martha Stout, clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School, 4% of people are secretly sociopaths, defined as someone without a conscience.) The closest I've seen to this is my younger sister, who definitely did not have the stereotypically permissive parents!



I've seen it in a couple of kids...and strongly suspect parenting was behind it. I knew the parents pretty well, and have a pretty good handle on their overall approach.


That said...we were at an indoor playground last week. DS2 went to show dd1 the toy he'd "won" at the claw machine, and another little boy grabbed it out of his hand and completeyl refused to return it, adamantly stating that it was his. When we finally found his mom, she told her little boy that his was on the table and he gave ds2's back to him, once he'd seen his. The mother didn't apologize to ds2 and didn't address the fact that her son had grabbed a toy from another child in any way. Over the course of the next 20 minutes, I watched her pump about another $2.50 into the claw machine ($0.25 a turn), because he wanted another toy and kept freaking out. She stopped when she had no quarters left. Then, she bought both boys chips, after checking which ones they wanted, and the little boy freaked out, because he didn't want those ones, so she bought him another bag, and tossed the first one. The little guy was only about 4, maybe 5, and I don't think his behaviour was particularly age inappropriate...but she didn't address any of it - not even a little bit. I have no idea if that was typical for her, or if she was just at the end of one of those "OMG - I can't take any more of this!!" days or what. But, it was kind of upsetting to watch.


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#8 of 21 Old 01-31-2011, 09:33 PM
 
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I guess I am not ready to jump on the "bad parenting" idea here.

 

My son probably often appears to be spoiled. And to outsiders, it probably looks like I am not doing anything to stop it. But he has Asperger's and SPD and the meltdowns and my caving in to calm him down are just part of the territory. Yes, I may give in to some seemingly silly request he is screaming about, but its usually sensory related and I know that while strangers don't. He's not being a brat when he throws his shoes on the floor, it literally hurts his feet to keep them on. So unless it's dangerous to keep them off, I don't bother pushing him. Does that make him a brat and me a bad mom? I don't think so. I think we're doing what it takes to get by and a lot of other families are too.

 

When you don't know the family well, you don't have the whole story. I always try to hold off judgment. Even great kids with great parents have their moments or even drawn out phases of not so great behavior.


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#9 of 21 Old 01-31-2011, 10:50 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Stephenie View Post

I guess I am not ready to jump on the "bad parenting" idea here.

 

My son probably often appears to be spoiled. And to outsiders, it probably looks like I am not doing anything to stop it. But he has Asperger's and SPD and the meltdowns and my caving in to calm him down are just part of the territory. Yes, I may give in to some seemingly silly request he is screaming about, but its usually sensory related and I know that while strangers don't. He's not being a brat when he throws his shoes on the floor, it literally hurts his feet to keep them on. So unless it's dangerous to keep them off, I don't bother pushing him. Does that make him a brat and me a bad mom? I don't think so. I think we're doing what it takes to get by and a lot of other families are too.

 

When you don't know the family well, you don't have the whole story. I always try to hold off judgment. Even great kids with great parents have their moments or even drawn out phases of not so great behavior.


Fair enough...but when a mom completely ignores the fact that her son grabbed a toy from another child, then refused to return it, and that mom doesn't even apologize to the other child (and I'm well aware that some kids simply aren't up to apologizing for themselves, for various reasons) for the behaviour, it goes beyond anything that generally falls under the "bad day" umbrella. I don't generally pay much attention to how other people are dealing with their kids in public, because I know all too well how hard it can be when your child is acting up all. freaking. day. But, I think it says something about a person's overall attitude when their entire response to a scenario like the one I described boils down to "let's make sure everyone knows my child was in the right".


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#10 of 21 Old 02-01-2011, 06:04 AM
 
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I have seen this in a number of children, and knowing the family well enough to know it is not disorder-related, but a direct result of parenting habits.  Having poor parenting habits doesn't mean that someone is a "bad person" over all.  But behavior has consequences, and some parenting behavior has the consequence of a child who behaves in a way that our language calls "spoiled"

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#11 of 21 Old 02-02-2011, 03:37 AM
 
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Spoiled is an attitude and isn't restricted by age, race, class, social status, material wealth. Spoiled people are casually cruel, feel a false sense of superiority and authority, are stingy (I know a lot of "anti-spoiling" parents who are extremely stingy, actually) with their time and resources, attentions and affections, and who do not care about how their actions affect others, just as long as they get their way.

I personally think that spoiled parents create spoiled children. If you treat a child with stinginess (for anything: material resources, attention, or affection), and model that in your home, what reason would they have to treat anyone else with anything but the same manner? If you treat your child without considerations for their feelings, what reason would they have to consider yours or anyone else's? If parents withhold what they can give, the child will too. Children are mirrors. They treat other people how they're treated. Maybe they're not treated that way in public, but many people act far differently in private than they do in public. You're just seeing a snapshot, not the whole movie, and I can guarantee that the background story to every bully, every truly spoiled child, short of behavior explained by disorders, includes someone treating the child with the same undesirable behavior he's showing to someone else.


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#12 of 21 Old 02-02-2011, 05:17 AM
 
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Spoiled is an attitude and isn't restricted by age, race, class, social status, material wealth. Spoiled people are casually cruel, feel a false sense of superiority and authority, are stingy (I know a lot of "anti-spoiling" parents who are extremely stingy, actually) with their time and resources, attentions and affections, and who do not care about how their actions affect others, just as long as they get their way.

I personally think that spoiled parents create spoiled children. If you treat a child with stinginess (for anything: material resources, attention, or affection), and model that in your home, what reason would they have to treat anyone else with anything but the same manner? If you treat your child without considerations for their feelings, what reason would they have to consider yours or anyone else's? If parents withhold what they can give, the child will too. Children are mirrors. They treat other people how they're treated. Maybe they're not treated that way in public, but many people act far differently in private than they do in public. You're just seeing a snapshot, not the whole movie, and I can guarantee that the background story to every bully, every truly spoiled child, short of behavior explained by disorders, includes someone treating the child with the same undesirable behavior he's showing to someone else.

This.
 

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#13 of 21 Old 02-02-2011, 08:37 PM
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i hate to say it but i have a cousin who was born when i was in my 20's and she fits the bill. so i base my definition on what happened there which was this kid, from the time she was a baby/toddler determined everything that happened in that family's life. she set the schedules, no bedtime, no naptime, wahetever she wanted to eat, whatever she wanted to say no matter how disrespectful what she wanted was all that mattered..she was basically in control of the household which was really sad because no small child really "wants" that degree of control. it was easy to see that she had no sense of security that comes with bounderies and knowing that your parents are in charge (and are therefore there to take care of YOU and not the other way around.)

she developed anorexia by the age of 14 and still struggles with it as an older teenager and her mother is still a pushover when it comes to major issues such as her care. 

in the end, this kid really lost out by having it all. 


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#14 of 21 Old 02-07-2011, 09:10 AM
 
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I agree with much of what has been said here. To me, there are some pretty clear cases. For example, a friend of mine recently brought home a fancy Starbucks coffee for her 13-year-old son. First of all, I don't think 13-year-olds should be drinking coffee, but that aside, instead of seeing it as a special treat, he sneered at her and said, "Why didn't you get me a Venti?" Then pouted about it for awhile. However, I used to think it was people who caved when their kids have a meltdown in the store. Yet I have been guilty of this, because of wanting to finish the shopping trip, and also because I realized that the meltdown was my fault due to lack of planning (forgetting to give my son a snack beforehand). Just the other day I bought some teething biscuits which my son loves. We came straight to the store after his nap and I forgot to give him a snack. So when he saw the teething biscuits he melted down until he got one. He was hungry! Also, he's only two, so it's hard to explain that he will get a snack if he waits until we get to the car. Many other times when we go to the store and I make sure he is rested and fed, he doesn't ask for anything. Or if he's just being a little whiny and I know it won't escalate into a full melt-down, I will ignore him. I have also never, ever set a precedent for getting him a toy when we go shopping. Other than a healthy snack on occasion, I never get a special treat for him while shopping, so he hasn't come to expect it.

 

All that said, I DON'T think you can ever spoil your child with too much love and affection. I slather those on my son.


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#15 of 21 Old 02-07-2011, 09:37 AM
 
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Spoiled...

 

a kid who can make his mom go to the store at 5;30 p.m because he doesn't like what's for dinner

 

a kid who kicks the back of the seat over and over again until mom drives to another McDonald's to get the "right" toy

 

a kid who who is never, ever satisfied even after parent gets them what they want

 

I don't have kids like this. They know I don't tolerate this sort of thing. My friend's child actually did do the above things. It makes me crazy but my friend is terrified her kid "won't like her".

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she was basically in control of the household which was really sad because no small child really "wants" that degree of control. it was easy to see that she had no sense of security that comes with bounderies and knowing that your parents are in charge (and are therefore there to take care of YOU and not the other way around.)


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#17 of 21 Old 02-07-2011, 10:48 AM
 
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 I once heard it said that food spoils when you leave it on a shelf and forget about it -- so, using this analogy, I suppose our children might spoil (it seems an odd analogy but we really and truly are made up of food) if we forget to really listen and respond to their needs appropriately. I recall once that a friend came over, years ago before I had my own family, when I was babysitting a bunch of kids. They were all playing in the backyard while I tried to finish up something in the kitchen, I was fixing dinner I think,and was rather stressed because of some long-forgotten reason, and as my friend came in she saw me expressing some irritation at a little boy who kept coming in to ask for cookies.

 

She heard me telling him something like, "Okay, now that's your fourth cookie so you've had enough!" and she spoke with me about the need to figure out what his real needs were. Was he genuinely hungry -- in which case he needed a healthy snack? Was he craving attention? Chances were that his real need was for something else besides continual cookies.

 

Now that I've been a mom for almost 11 years, I can attest that as nextcommercial said, there are some times when we're so tired or preoccupied that we really can't closely attend to our children's needs, in which case we might catch ourselves doling out cookies.

 

I think that if every day is a day like this, there is a risk of spoiling. 'Cause children can learn to "medicate" their needs with junk food or with consumerism. If they never learn what it's like to have their real needs listened to and met, they get used to settling for the next best thing.


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#18 of 21 Old 02-08-2011, 06:24 PM
 
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 I once heard it said that food spoils when you leave it on a shelf and forget about it -- so, using this analogy, I suppose our children might spoil (it seems an odd analogy but we really and truly are made up of food) if we forget to really listen and respond to their needs appropriately. I recall once that a friend came over, years ago before I had my own family, when I was babysitting a bunch of kids. They were all playing in the backyard while I tried to finish up something in the kitchen, I was fixing dinner I think,and was rather stressed because of some long-forgotten reason, and as my friend came in she saw me expressing some irritation at a little boy who kept coming in to ask for cookies.

 

She heard me telling him something like, "Okay, now that's your fourth cookie so you've had enough!" and she spoke with me about the need to figure out what his real needs were. Was he genuinely hungry -- in which case he needed a healthy snack? Was he craving attention? Chances were that his real need was for something else besides continual cookies.

 

Now that I've been a mom for almost 11 years, I can attest that as nextcommercial said, there are some times when we're so tired or preoccupied that we really can't closely attend to our children's needs, in which case we might catch ourselves doling out cookies.

 

I think that if every day is a day like this, there is a risk of spoiling. 'Cause children can learn to "medicate" their needs with junk food or with consumerism. If they never learn what it's like to have their real needs listened to and met, they get used to settling for the next best thing.


I totally agree with this! If it's about the cookie, have another cookie, by all means. If it's about truly wanting a new puzzle, have the puzzle. If it's about replacing something else or "medicating" because attention or affection is lacking, or because there's some insecurity, THAT will spoil a child. If a parent continually takes the "want" at face value and doesn't look at whether it really is just a want, or whether it's something more, and if it's the latter, fails to do anything about it and just keeps giving in superficially... that creates a spoilt child.

 

They do spoil like food: even the ripest banana gets bad quickly if it's in the wrong conditions, if you leave it in the sun too long or whatever. If you don't move it and do something when you notice it might be in the wrong condition even if it still looks good on the outside, it's going to be rotten on the inside pretty quick.

 

Spoiling still comes down to the parent putting their needs and comfort above the child, which will eventually cause the child to exhibit the same behaviour to someone else. If the need/want is face-value, I take it as face-value and usually say, "yes." If the need or want goes deeper and is just a mask for something else they feel they truly do need, I try to identify when that's the case and go after the deeper need. I may indeed say "yes" to the surface desire, but whether the answer is yes or no, there needs to be deeper investigation and action and attentiveness.


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#19 of 21 Old 02-09-2011, 12:17 AM
 
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I could have sworn I heard that spoiling was what happened if you held your baby all the time.  wink1.gif


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#20 of 21 Old 02-09-2011, 12:21 AM
 
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I could have sworn I heard that spoiling was what happened if you held your baby all the time.  wink1.gif



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#21 of 21 Old 02-10-2011, 05:33 PM
 
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A child who is just given everything, except much love or attention from the parents. A child who is allowed to be disrespectful or rude to others, and the parents do nothing. A child where the parents say stuff like "she text messages all night long, but nothing I can do about it." A child who has no rules, no limits, and the parents try to hard to be friends and to get her (or him) to like them rather than parenting. Being spoiled is not a good thing.

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