How to Avoid Spoiling Your Child

Young girls with cucumber slices on their eyes

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Somewhere near the top of the list of the most unpleasant things one can encounter on earth has to be demanding and spoiled children who believe that they are entitled to whatever they want, whenever they want it.

If the job of parenting is to raise children who are ultimately good, kind, responsible citizens who fulfill their unique potentials as they contribute to the betterment of society, then making sure our kids are not spoiled is an important component of our duties. Raising children who are not spoiled means that we enjoy the company of our kids and spend our time together having less conflict and more fun.

How to Raise an Un-Spoiled Child

Parents who want to shape their children into people who are raised to be thankful, patient, have self-control, and are generally pleasant individuals to be around can definitely take measures to help steer their kids in the right direction.

Here are some important ways to make sure you don’t spoil your child.

Make Sure They Do Chores

Giving children age-appropriate chores can not only help lighten your load around the house, but it can help your child develop a sense of responsibility and self-esteem. While it might initially take longer to teach a young child how to do even simple tasks such as sweeping the correct way (truth be told, it can often be easier just to do it yourself), teaching your child how to do housework can be an important foundation that will serve them for the rest of their life.

Teach Them to Say Thank You

Whether it’s for small everyday things like a dinner you have prepared or for bigger things like a birthday present you give them, your child should know how to say thank you almost reflexively, without prompting.

Be a good role model by showing your child how you say thank you to the people around you, such as wait staff or bank tellers.

Sit down and write thank you notes with your child (or have an older child do the writing themselves) to send to people who give them presents or help them in some way.

Discipline Your Child

One of the most important things parents teach children is how to self-regulate so that there is little or no need for discipline. Setting firm boundaries and expectations early can make a huge difference in how a child behaves as they grow up.

Children who are taught at an early age how to conduct themselves in a pleasant manner, be patient, and have self-control are more likely to have an easier time making friends and being successful in social settings. Disciplining children is one of the key ways parents can avoid spoiling their kids.

Raise a Charitable Child

A child who learns to consider the needs of friends, family, and the world beyond and develops a desire to help others in need is a child who is less spoiled.

Encourage your child to think beyond themselves by volunteering together as a family to clean up parks, feed hungry families, or even help elderly neighbors.

These small acts of kindness can teach your child that there are those who are less fortunate than themselves and that they can make a difference in people’s lives.

Don’t Pile on the False Praise

There’s been a lot of debate about whether or not it’s a good idea to give everyone a trophy just for participating in a game or race and labeling every child talented and outstanding. While the motivation for unwarranted praise comes from a good place—that of not wanting kids to feel bad about themselves and attempting to foster self-esteem—the reality is that not everyone can win or is equally talented in all things.

It is indeed important to nurture your child’s desire to try, perhaps fail, and try again those things that they want to do. You just want to be sure to encourage them without giving praise when it’s not warranted.

When your child fails at something, remind them that not succeeding is often necessary to one day getting it right.

If your child is not naturally good at something, remind them of the many other things that they are good at. Have them think about how different people, such as their friends and family, are good at different things. Remind them that it's these differences that make us unique and interesting.

Make Sure They Mind Their Manners

Good manners go beyond saying thank you. Saying please, speaking in a nice manner to people, showing good sportsmanship during games, having good table manners, greeting people properly, and having other basic good manners are essential skills to guard against spoiling your child.

Instill the Value of Money

Teaching kids about money is an important way to make sure you don’t spoil your child. When your child learns about what things cost, how a household budget is run, and how to manage her own allowance, they're less likely to whine about something they want at the store.

7 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Sansone RA, Sansone LA. Gratitude and well being: the benefits of appreciation. Psychiatry (Edgmont). 2010;(7)11:18-22. 

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Creating structure and rules.

  4. Tulgan B. Not Everyone Gets A Trophy: How to Manage the Millennials, Revised and Updated. Wiley. 2016.

  5. Strom PS, Strom RD.  Thinking in Childhood and Adolescence (Lifespan Learning). Information Age Publishing. 2013.

  6. Palmer C. Raise Your Kids to Succeed: What Every Parent Should Know. Rowman & Littlefield. 2017.

  7. Trzcińska A, Sekścińska K. The Effects of Activating the Money Concept on Perseverance and the Preference for Delayed Gratification in Children. Front Psychol. 2016;(7):609.  doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00609

By Katherine Lee
Katherine Lee is a parenting writer and a former editor at Parenting and Working Mother magazines.