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What It Really Means To Spoil A Child

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What is the defining characteristic of a spoiled child?

A spoiled child may be recognized by an unwillingness to conform to the ordinary demands of living in a family: for example, a refusal to come for dinner on time, a demand for attention or for a privilege denied to others, a strategy for getting his or her way by creating a fuss publicly.

The spoiled child is likely to be irritable and unsympathetic to others. He seems comfortable ignoring his parents’ wishes. “He wants what he wants when he wants it.” For that reason, he may seem to be impulsive. The spoiled child is likely to grow up to be a spoiled adult.

The problem with being a “spoiled adult” goes far beyond the fact that such an individual, demanding much of the time, is likely to seem unpleasant, even obnoxious, to the people around him. A spoiled person is unhappy.

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He feels frustrated, even cheated, if he or she is not allowed to indulge his or her wishes immediately. Being spoiled suggests to most people a desire for more and more possessions, and that is indeed one aspect of being spoiled; but another is an unwillingness to conform to ordinary social expectations. Somebody who won’t do what he or she is expected to do is spoiled.

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That person may seem disgruntled, complaining, resentful, and self-centered. Such a person is preoccupied by thoughts of what he or she does not have. And lacking discipline, that person may fail at work and in social situations.

The parent who sighs and tells me she is afraid of having spoiled her child is not taking this problem seriously enough. The spoiled person is discontented. It is not enough for him to have a yacht, the plumbing fixtures must be made of gold. It is not enough to be rich, he has to pretend to be even richer, it is not enough to be admired, he has to be admired by everyone.