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  • Writer's pictureOnce Upon A Mommy

Yes, You Can Spoil Your Kid and Leave Out the “Brat” Part…

Updated: Feb 21


By Cris S.

January 3, 2024


DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING I GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH MY LINKS, AT NO COST TO YOU.


There are spoiled kids, and then there are spoiled brats. I think we all know the difference. The question is, how can you spoil your kids without them becoming those brats who throw a temper tantrum the few times you say "no"? After having 5 kids I have had plenty of practice and think I have come pretty close to perfecting it.


Avoiding raising spoiled brats is all a balancing act. As parents, it is our job to give, give, give. Unfortunately when we spend most of our kid's lives giving and not teaching them to give back, that is how a spoiled brat is made!


Let's talk strategy here: Obviously this has to be tailored to your child's age and stage. I have a child in every stage right now- Toddler, elementary age, middle school, high school and college. The earlier you start this process, the better and easier it will be for you in the long run!



Toddler- Honestly, a toddler only understands so much. The only thing you can really do here is occasionally (or often) tell them "no".. Which most of us will do anyways, since that is a normal part of raising a child.



Elementary- The main thing to work on at this age is making sure that they understand the answer is not always going to be "yes". It is so incredibly easy to tell my 7 year old "yes" when he asks to play the PlayStation. It means he will be sitting down, NOT jumping around like an ape, teasing his sisters, or causing other types of little boy trouble.


HOWEVER...


When I tell him "no" and he proceeds to throw the tantrum of a century, that's when I know it's time to REIGN IT IN!!! I explain to him that playing the PlayStation is a privilege, and if it's going to be a problem, then he will not be playing at all.


Usually, this is enough for him to check his behavior. If not, he gets banned from the Playstaion for a set amount of time. Recognize when the "brat" is starting to creep up.


This is the age to introduce the "giving" part I talked about earlier. Family relationships should always be "give and give", not just "give and take". One of the best ways that I have found for young kids to "give" is by helping out with chores around the house. There is no reason that our elementary aged children can't help out, and if you're lucky, you may have one of those kids who at this age actually WANTS to help out. (Hey, it happens on occasion!)


When they throw a fit about not wanting to empty the garbages or not wanting to clear the table, explain to them simply that we ALL live in this house, eat the food, use the bathrooms, etc. therefore we can ALL contribute to its upkeep.


They might still throw a fit, but in our house it doesn't change the fact that they are still going to do the assigned chores. Don't forget to show your appreciation for the things they do for you, even if they did throw a fit while doing it!



Middle School - This is a critical age in the process of making sure your kids don't become spoiled brats. Why? Because at this age they can fully understand the concept of giving. As their parents, it is our job to shelter them, clothe them and feed them. But what about all the extras? At this age they tend to start wanting more.. A new phone, new clothes and shoes, time with friends, sports, etc. I have always been more than happy to provide these things for my kids, but these special things come at a cost.


What cost you ask?


At this age I have a sit down with my kids and explain to them that I will gladly provide them with many of these "wants", but this is not a "give and take" situation. It is a "give and give" situation. It is expected of my children to keep their grades up. It is expected of my children to contribute around the house with chores and upkeep. It is expected of them to have a decent attitude when I ask them for help.


Don't get me wrong, in a house with multiple teenage girls, there is always PLENTY of attitude being thrown around! But by harnessing this "give and give" attitude from a young age, the attitudes are mainly just hormonal and not because they were asked to do something. Much of the time they are happy to help, knowing that eventually there will be something that THEY want from me.


Allowance is fine to practice also, but it's important that they do some things for the greater good without necessarily getting anything in return.



High School- By this age, my kids have a great understanding of their expectations. I'm happy to spoil them with electronics, new clothes and shoes and fun family vacations. They may not want to do chores, help out in the kitchen or keep an eye on younger siblings while I take a nap after working a night shift, but they do it... And for the most part, they don't complain about it.


Grades are also an important factor at this age. I do keep pretty close tabs on my older kid's grades (mainly because my high schooler tries to be as lazy as she can! Side note: I have found that an incentive for good grades works well for kids who are lazy!)


If you notice your kid starts to slip with their behaviors or grades, then it's time to start busting out more of the "no" word.


Remember: BALANCE!!





Teens quickly pick up on the correlation between their behaviors and the "extras" they get out of you. (Side note: Communication is SO important at this age. If your kid starts to get very behavioral, not care about grades or relationships, and distances themselves from you to the point where they won't tell you ANYTHING, you need to have a serious discussion and get to the root of their problems. Do NOT ignore sudden extreme changes in behavior!)



College: Just because your kid turns 18 doesn't mean they will stop asking you for things! At this age, they may be in college and/or working a job, so they are not home nearly as much, if at all. The balance here shifts a bit.


I had a sit down discussion with my daughter and explained to her that as long as she is working hard, staying motivated, keeping good grades and working towards something positive, I will be more than happy to help her out. This ends up being things like paying for her car insurance and phone bill, giving her money for gas or taking her out for lunch and coffee.


Don't forget that you need to explain this arrangement to your children starting at an early age. Make your relationships with your children "give and give", not just "give and take".


Nurture the giving side of your kids, and if they don't seem to have a "giving" side, then TEACH it to them! Because once they grow up and get into the world, they will learn very quickly that things aren't just given to them. You have to work for things, and you have to give!


Happy Parenting!

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