6 Signs Of A 'Spoiled' Kid And How To Deal With Them

Many parents, teachers, and caregivers struggle with figuring out how to deal with spoiled kids. To keep their children happy, some parents satisfy all their kids’ demands and give them many privileges. However, too much leniency can spoil your child, making them aggressive and stubborn.

The term “spoiled child” refers to an immature, self-centered, ill-mannered child who shows violent, inappropriate behaviors. These behaviors are mostly rooted in excessive pampering by the parents or caretakers or the inability of the parents to set appropriate boundaries and rules for the child (1) (2).

A misbehaving child who is left uncontrolled may become trickier to handle later. This post explores why a child becomes spoiled and offers a few tips for managing spoiled children.

In This Article

Why Do Children Get Spoiled?

"When there is little interaction between family members. "

Image: IStock

Several reasons could contribute to a child’s spoiled behavior. Labeling a child with negative terms such as ‘spoiled’ will have only negative effects. In this post, we use the terms stubborn and spoiled only to convey the meaning but not to label a child. The following are a few common ones (2) (3).

  • Fulfilling every need of the child and failing to set boundaries and age-appropriate limits
  • Living in a home environment where there is little interaction between family members
  • Being the only child in the family, as they generally tend to be overprotected by parents
  • Bailing them out continuously and not letting them experience the consequences of their actions
  • Offering them rewards and lavish praise too often
  • Lack of discipline at home and lenient parenting.

protip_icon Expert says
Bruce J. McIntosh, MD, from the Family Practice Residency Program, St Vincent’s Medical Center, Florida, suggests, “Indulgence can result in spoiling when the parent, lacking confidence, time, or energy, attempts to meet the child’s complex developmental needs with material gifts and uncritical acceptance while failing to provide essential guidelines for acceptable behavior (2).”

Signs Of A Spoiled Child

They often show furious behavior like screaming.

Image: IStock

Spoiled children tend to lack patience and are usually self-centered. They often use manipulative approaches to get what they want. This behavior can put them into trouble in social settings, and you must take steps to guide them if you notice any of the signs mentioned below. It is important to remember that these behaviors are fairly common while growing up and all the children need not be exactly malicious. The presence of problematic behaviors in multiple settings needs attention.

Here are a few signs that may indicate your child is spoiled or over-pampered (3) (4).

1.They refuse and ignore you: It is annoying when a child constantly does something opposite of what is asked of them. When they are asked to follow routines, they give excuses. They repeatedly refuse to eat, share their belongings, or sleep on time. They also avoid listening to you and do what they like.

2. They respond in an enraged way or throw tantrums: A spoiled child is often aggressive. They can create a risk for themselves and the people around them.  They react in frustration when their needs aren’t met and refuse to listen to anything that is said. As they are unable to understand and process their emotions, they often show furious behavior such as screaming, crying, hitting, and biting.

3. They develop a superiority complex: Some spoiled children tend to develop a superiority complex over others and feel that they deserve only the best. This behavior can aggravate if you over-appreciate them.

4. They are never satisfied: You give them a cookie or a toy, and they want more. You let them have a night out with friends, and they want it often. They are never grateful for what they have and expect you to do more.

5. They do not respect people: For a spoiled child, everyone is meant to serve them. They do not respect their teachers, friends, and people in the community. They also fail to empathize with others and are often demanding.

Moreover, dealing with stubborn children can be difficult because they might struggle to understand specific ideas easily. Narrating an incident involving her strong-willed daughter, a parent says, “During a holiday season, a package arrived from a family out of town for my child. It was filled with clothes, toys, and treats galore. My little one immediately put on one of the dresses and began playing with the toys. I told my daughter she had to call these thoughtful givers to thank them. Yet, at that moment, it wasn’t what she wanted to do. I reminded her they love her very much and would love to hear from her. That didn’t convince her. I then explained they didn’t have to buy her any of this and that they work hard to be generous. Yet the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

“So I took the box and all the toys, minus the dress she was wearing, away. She threw a fit. I was adamant; she called and, at the very least, said thank you. She finally agreed. We called out of state, and when I handed my daughter the phone, all she said was thank you and ran off to play with the toys, dropping the phone to the floor (i).”

6. They demand things and compare themselves to others: A child with a demanding nature is difficult to manage. When their demands are not fulfilled, they might burst out and create havoc. You might see them comparing themselves to others, which could make them conceal their needs or feelings and lead to low self-confidence.

Possible Effects Of Getting Spoiled As A Kid

They might have difficulty in making friends.

Image: IStock

Children who show self-centered and immature behavior since childhood might find it difficult to manage things around them when they grow older. They may experience the following effects.

  • They might experience dissatisfaction and irritation when their requirements are not met and might even take the wrong path to fulfill such needs.
  • They might turn out to be attention seekers and might want people around them to appreciate them.
  • Because of their intolerant behavior, they may pick up unnecessary fights if someone disagrees with them.
  • Due to their irresponsible, disobedient, and disrespectful behavior, parents might often feel embarrassed in the community.
  • They can create a disturbing atmosphere at home with their obstinate behavior, which can often lessen the interaction between family members.
  • They may find it hard to adjust and co-operate with people around them.
  • They might have difficulty in making and sharing connections and maintaining friendships.

15 Ways To Deal With Spoiled Children

Dealing with a stubborn and spoiled child can be frustrating, but learning a few ways to deal with their behavior is vital.

1. Use distractions

Instead of showing aggression on your child’s inappropriate behavior, keep calm and distract them with other things around them. For instance, find an alternative activity for your child to do or give them something that will keep them occupied.

2. Do not argue

Talk to them calmly and respectfully.

Image: IStock

Arguing with children will only make the situation worse. Instead, talk to them calmly and respectfully, or ignore them for a while and get back to them when they are calm and ready to talk.

3. Establish a parent-child bond

Children who have a healthy connection with their parents share their problems and feel free to have conversations. Try to nurture the bond between you through simple activities at home. When they feel free to share their emotions and feelings with you, they will be emotionally strong to tackle every situation.

4. Set a routine

Sit with your child and create a routine and a few rules that every family member must follow. Be an example and show them how life becomes easier when everyone does their share of things. Creating such a routine will also make them disciplined.

5. Maintain peace at home

Try to maintain peace and create a happy environment at home. Your child will tend to behave better when they see everyone in the family happy and at peace with each other.

6. Make them aware of the consequences

If you tolerate your child’s behavior and neglect it by saying that they are too young to understand, you might be inviting trouble in later life. Make them realize and explain to them that misbehavior will have consequences and ensure the consequences are realized.

7. Praise good behavior

Appreciate and encourage their effort.

Image: IStock

It is important to appreciate them when they show good behavior. This will encourage them to display good behavior. Whether they help you with chores or share their toys with friends, appreciate and encourage their effort. Encouraging such behavior will help them develop confidence and build their interest in doing it often. However, ensure you do not praise them excessively, as it could lead to a feeling of entitlement.

protip_icon Experts say
Bruce J. McIntosh confirms, “Indulging children is one of the joys of being a parent, and when combined with a positive parental presence in the form of clear expectations and limits, it does not produce unpleasant, demanding children (2).”

10. Teach them teamwork.

Spend time with children and make them understand the need to learn how to share, give, and take things. Learning teamwork since childhood will help them have patience, show empathy towards others, and build trust.

11. Let them face disappointment

If things don’t go the way they had planned, the child might face some disappointment; but make sure that disappointment doesn’t turn into violent actions. Let them understand that things won’t always go the way we plan, and it is okay to feel disappointment at times.

12. Test their patience

If your child is waiting for you to get something they have been longing for, make them wait a little longer to check their patience level. Talk to them politely and let them learn that this skill will help them build a strong character.

13. Make them aware of life’s challenges

Fearing failure, some children do not get involved in certain activities. Motivate and support them and let them know that challenges are a part of life and facing challenges will make them stronger. Encourage them if they fail initially and let them know participation is greater than winning.

protip_icon Quick tip
Children may be prepared for life challenges by incorporating fun-filled daily routines and playful activities. Parents should also give them tips on managing emotions and handling tough situations (5).

14. Correct their manners.

Do not develop a habit of admiring your child every minute. Be supportive of what they do, but if they display some incorrect behavior, instruct them on when to stop and also make them understand that the behavior might affect their relationship with people around them. Correct them when they do something wrong or cheat while playing.

15. Teach them to save money

Make your child understand the difference between needs and wants in life. Talking to your child about money will make them understand about savings, goals, and responsible spending. For example, if you provide your children allowances, teach them to write down their expenses each day. This way, they will know the importance of saving money and control their unnecessary desires.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why are spoiled children unhappy?

Spoiled children gradually become unlikeable because of their rude and selfish behaviors. They eventually become unhappy when their peers and adults don’t let them indulge in these behaviors and express their disapproval.

2. What is spoiled child syndrome?

Spoiled child syndrome generally occurs in children whose parents failed to establish age-appropriate limitations and allowed them to indulge in selfish behaviors. It results in egocentric children who cannot get along with others (2).

3. How can parents handle the backlash from a spoiled child when they begin setting limits and boundaries?

When parents begin setting limits and boundaries for a spoiled child, they might encounter resistance. To handle this, parents can create clear rules and consequences, consistently apply them, and positively reinforce good behavior. Parents can help their children learn and respect boundaries by gently addressing entitlement and emphasizing positive actions.

4. What are some strategies for teaching a spoiled child responsibility and independence?

Some strategies for fostering responsibility and independence in a spoiled child involve assigning chores, providing rewards for completing tasks, allowing them to take charge of certain responsibilities, and encouraging them to handle various age-appropriate tasks and activities independently.

5. Can a spoiled child be unspoiled?

Yes, it is possible to transform a spoiled child through consistent parenting strategies, dedication, and the passage of time. By establishing clear boundaries, implementing consequences, instilling a sense of responsibility and independence, and nurturing empathy and gratitude, a child can develop a greater appreciation for their possessions and exhibit more balanced and mature behavior.

A spoiled child is an immature, self-centered, and ill-mannered child who exhibits aggressive, improper actions due to over-pampering and a failure to establish adequate limits and rules. Your child’s conduct is bothersome, and it often causes embarrassment. Therefore, knowing how to deal with spoiled children is important. Rather than arguing and scolding your child, you should establish a positive relationship with them and try to fix their manners. You should applaud their positive conduct while also allowing them to experience disappointment. In addition, rather than simply ignoring the problem that is causing them to misbehave, you should identify and address it.

Key Pointers

  • Children may get spoiled if they are rewarded often and their wishes are fulfilled instantly.
  • A spoiled child may often ignore your requests or throw frequent tantrums.
  • Over time, they may become attention seekers and develop a superiority complex.
  • To deal with a spoiled child, stay calm, avoid arguments, and let them know the consequences of their behavior.

Personal Experience: Source

i. The spoiled brat.


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. Bert I. Beverly;Spoiled Children;Postgraduate Medicine (1947).
2. Bruce J. McIntosh;Spoiled Child Syndrome; Pediatrics (1989).
3. 10 Signs You Are Raising A Spoilt Child;King’s Christian College
4. Spoiling vs Nurturing – How to Ensure that Your Child has it all;The Urban Child Institute
5. What is Taking on Challenges?Mind in the Making
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