Holiday Hazard: Kids Acting Like Spoiled Brats

As parents, we want to be able to give our kids everything they want and need. We, of course, want them to be happy.

But what happens when this desire to make our kids happy produces a negative side effect? Instead of creating self-confident, self-satisfied kids, it creates spoiled and entitled children. Ugh. Certainly not the goal we want to achieve! And the holiday season doesn’t help. It can put parents in a shopping daze where buying more can feel like loving more.

According to our recent TODAY Moms & Parenting.com survey, 76 percent out of 6,000 moms admitted to spoiling their kids over the holidays. Many parents said they would go to extreme measures to secure a “hot item” for their children, even if it meant waiting in way too long lines at ridiculously odd hours.

Parents need to strike a merrier balance between overly indulging children and highlighting the deeper meaning behind the holiday season. So, how can parents resist the temptation to grant their child’s every material wish? The experts agree that parents -- and caregivers -- have a lot more control over influencing their kid’s greed than they sometimes believe. Here are some tips to help unspoil your child during this holiday season:spospo

Don’t be afraid to set limits. It’s OK for parents to say “no.” Don’t feel guilty about this. It’s important to teach your child that sometimes you get things right away and sometimes you don’t. That’s life! Make sure grandmas and grandpas know this, too. It doesn't help your discipline plan to have someone spoiling your child behind your back (that’s you, Grandma!).

For the holidays, place a dollar limit on what you plan to spend for gifts, and then stick to it. Let your children know what to expect: for example, no more than two gifts for each child, per gift giver.

Develop rituals that include the importance of giving back. Help your kids realize how fortunate they are. Teach the importance of giving back by having them shop for a needy family or donate to a charity. Choose a cause that has meaning for everyone. If they’re old enough, they should donate some of their allowance to the cause.

With the season of giving in mind, it’s also important to teach kids to give to each other. Take them to a bookstore or toy shop and have them find gifts for their siblings, cousins or parents. Low funds this season? Have them make treats for people. This is a great activity for the babysitter to help with too!

Be the person you want your children to be. Assuming you don’t pout or throw a tantrum when you don’t get what you want, role-play positive behavior for your kids. Show a healthy level of appreciation for what you do have. Help your child voice her feelings, rather than act irrationally about them. Then, teach her how to set goals and work towards having what she wants.

You will also want to focus on how to graciously accept gifts -- and make sure to say thank you for each one.

Praise your child. Once you see a lessening of greed, be sure to let your children know you see their growth. Praise is a powerful motivator to encourage positive, productive and healthy behaviors for kids and adults. Just don’t reward with more presents! Use hugs, stickers or special activities as rewards.

The holidays can be a truly magical time when the principles of giving, receiving and being grateful for what one has all gets wrapped up with the season’s festive ribbons and bows. Just make sure you, your spouse and all caregivers are on board with not giving in to the “gimmes.”


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Kay on Dec 25, 2011 at 08:21 AM
    My grandmothers switch took care of our misbehaviour. We worked when we were little and we work and have values now. Parents better wake up and realize they are doing their children no favors by letting them be spoiled brats.
  • by Adults Acting Like Spoiled Brats on Dec 25, 2011 at 06:11 AM
    It's not just the kids.
  • by Anonymous on Dec 25, 2011 at 05:48 AM
    Everyday hazard:Pinnochiobama and friends acting like spoiled brats.
  • by DIXIECHICK Location: ENC on Dec 25, 2011 at 04:28 AM
    Children need to be taught that the world does not owe them anything. They need to work and earn what they get. They will learn to appreciate it more.
  • by Pirate Location: Pitt County on Dec 24, 2011 at 10:29 PM
    If you make a child's life perfect while they are growing up, what does the child expect when they are grown? My children are grown, know how life works and where a dollar comes from.
  • by parent on Dec 24, 2011 at 02:02 PM
    i work with the result of people who think they are entitled and have been catered to all of their lives--let me tell you, if you do this, you are doing your kids NO favors. these people wouldnt tie their own shoes if they didnt have to, its pathetic. treat your kids like one day youre not going to be around to help them or teach them. not only teach them values, but independence too. its not easy--i have kids, so i know this. but i think when we opt for 'easy' too often, is when we really mess up as parents. think about this--what if one day your kids wont be able to have christmas because youre too poor? will they then think you dont love them as much? for sure, there are some kids who really would! you dont have to be strict and mean, necessarily, but it helps to be consistent and for them to understand and obey you. it helps when they have a motive other than receiving a wanted material 'prize'--such as TIME WITH MOM AND DAD. once they reach a certain age, of course, that time means nothing to them and its too late.
    • reply
      by Formerly O.L.I. on Dec 24, 2011 at 07:03 PM in reply to parent
      Words of wisdom; and let me add that, studies prove that by the time a child is age 10 yrs. old, they have already formed their personalities and traits, based on their environment; after that, genes take over.
  • by Formerly O.L.I. Location: ENC on Dec 24, 2011 at 12:54 PM
    I will say again, this is a well-written article. My friends and I practiced most of these tips with great results. I especially like the one about "be the person you want your child to be...".
  • by Anonymous on Dec 24, 2011 at 11:54 AM
    a swat or 3 on the rump will take care of the problems!
  • by Lisa Location: enc on Dec 24, 2011 at 11:42 AM
    What do you expect from a holiday that teaches greed...humbug...
    • reply
      by absolutely!! on Dec 24, 2011 at 10:35 PM in reply to Lisa
      its in our faces from september till now just about! buy! buy! buy! sickening! commercialmas is what i call it!
  • by amy on Dec 24, 2011 at 10:53 AM
    Act? It's usually not an act.
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