Some kids come out of the womb with a sweet and caring disposition. But some come out knowing exactly what they want when they want it and do whatever is in their power to get it. And while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s important to intervene early on before you have a full-grown tool on your hands.

While a child who is strong-willed and has the determination to accomplish something at whatever means necessary is an incredible attribute, they will need some guidance on how to govern their impulses and be considerate of those around them.

Most people would agree that raising a spoiled child is never an objective in parenting. But often, our good-intentioned efforts lead to spoiled and entitled children. Why? Because what WE think is best for them, is often not the case. And our kids, whether we like it or not, need to be TAUGHT how to be kind and caring towards other people. Most often, taught by example.

There are two instances that often lead to a spoiled child.

One – a naturally strong-willed and determined child who isn’t taught by their parents the proper social and emotional skills that help them consider others or own their mistakes.

Two – a child who is given whatever they want, and never taught by their parents how to be considerate of others or own their mistakes.

Both instances have one thing in common — it’s the parent’s JOB to TEACH their child. While some children have a natural bend towards assholery, it’s still our job to teach them a better way, even if they don’t always listen.

In my opinion, most toddlers are narcissists. This is their time to learn boundaries, self-regulate, and do things even if they don’t feel like it, all while NOT wanting to do ANY of those things. And because of this, toddlerhood is often the most frustrating age for everyone involved, along with the teenage years. But it’s also the most misunderstood. If we step back and EXPECT these years to be challenging, knowing they may need a little more of our patience, we might find ourselves enjoying them.

“Every child will rebel at some point in their lives. The extent to which they rebel is often determined by our response to it.” Bill McKee

angry toddler

Is it too late to turn a spoiled child around?

The younger a wild stallion begins training, the easier it will be to break them. Old horses learn bad habits. I know, I shouldn’t compare children to horses. But it’s true of anything. If you don’t teach good habits when your kids are young, you might have a challenging child on your hands for years to come.

But this doesn’t mean there is no more hope if you missed the boat. The point of this article is to help you look out for red flags, but also give you some good tips along the way. It’s never too late to turn your parenting around. Because at the root of a spoiled child (most often but not always) is a parent who isn’t enforcing boundaries.

So before you start looking for solutions to change your child, look within to make sure your child’s behavior isn’t a result of something you need to change in your parenting.

3 Signs Your Child is Spoiled and Entitled

little girl in ballerina dress

You Have a Toddler

Yes, this is the first sign. If you have a toddler, it’s most likely you have a spoiled child on your hands. As mentioned above, this is normal. But the toddler age is VITAL to begin to teach them they can’t have everything they want. You can often avoid power struggles by allowing them their independence and giving them options — something to look forward to as you announce bad news.

“When we get in bed, do you want me to tell you a story or read a book? Your choice!”

If you have a really smart one on your hands like I do, this may only work for a few hours before they’re on to you. In that case, You might have to ride out the tantrums (a toddler’s way of expressing they are upset). If their tantrums stop at just being upset and they calm down a few minutes afterward, then this is normal. Just let them know you’re there for them and you understand they feel frustrated but don’t give in.

Distractions are also a good way to dissolve a tantrum, but make sure you’re still acknowledging their feelings. If their tantrums turn into biting, hitting, and uncontrollable anger, then other means might be necessary.

“It’s okay to be angry, but it’s not okay to be unkind. Because you chose to be unkind, I need to give you a consequence.”

Follow this with an appropriate consequence and wait until they calm down. You can say. “I can’t wait to figure this out with you! I’m ready whenever you are.”

Sometimes it takes my toddler a few times of explaining and tantrum having, followed by a few “time-ins” to help him understand he is, in fact, not going to get what he wants. Sometimes, I throw a funny look his way and everything is instantly better. Depends on the day.

But most often, I have to patiently wait — most times succeeding in not allowing my emotions to also take over.

It’s important for parents to self-regulate if they are to expect their kids to do so. Being a good example is often the best way to teach your child. But since we’re all imperfect, I often have to apologize for letting my emotions get the best of me.

“I’m sorry. It wasn’t okay how I talked to you. Can you forgive me? I’m going to try again.”

frowning boy

They lack empathy

The more your child is equipped to feel, identify, and know what to do with their emotions, the more they are likely to empathize with others. Every child is different. Some kids’ personalities aren’t naturally empathetic. My older son is very empathic like I am (which also has its pitfalls) and my younger son is more like my husband (who’s German, btw) — sometimes unaware of how they come across or unable to identify with how someone feels.

So if your child has a personality that lacks empathy, then you might need to spend more time teaching them than you would another child who’s naturally empathetic. You can do this by reminding them of how they feel when someone is unkind to them.

“Do you like it when your brother hits you? Does it make you sad when he does? Because I know you don’t want to make your brother sad, you can make it right by saying your sorry.”

It sometimes takes my 3yo a few hours before he decides to apologize. But eventually, he does. If he isn’t immediately ready to apologize, I revisit the situation later and he’s usually ready. the point is to make sure he’s in the right headspace to understand his wrong and make a genuine apology.

Your home is a battlefield

Once a toddler gets a taste of getting their way, they will use it to their advantage for years to come and before you know it, your home is a battlefield about every. little. thing. All the more reason to not give in. NOT. ONCE.

If you have a strong-willed child on your hands, they will fight for whatever they can because they know they will eventually win. They will BREAK you and they know every little button to push to get their way. This isn’t necessarily manipulation, it’s learned behavior.

Unfortunately, parents are often at the root cause of this happening, and at some point, they don’t know how to operate differently. They become afraid of their child and find themselves giving in as to not have a nervous breakdown. I know because I’ve been there.

But at some point, I realized that my strong-willed toddler needs to be told “no” sometimes and learn how to be okay with it. I can use all the fancy wording in all the world, but at the end of the day if my child can’t healthily respond to “no” then there will be others in his life he won’t respond healthily to when they say, “no.” That doesn’t mean I go around throwing “no” around at every possible opportunity. It just means that if there is no other way around “no” then I need to allow him the freedom to feel while also enforcing boundaries.

“I see that you’re angry and that’s okay.” Then I wait. “Can I hold you? It’s hard to be okay when something doesn’t go the way we want. But we still have to choose kindness and accept it.” Or “I’m okay with you questioning me, but I’m not okay with how you said it. Try again in a kind voice.”

As I’m writing this I’m realizing that we all need grace. At the core of it, we are all spoiled in some way or another. It’s human. And when we can teach our children with grace and patience how to be kind and not always expect everything to go their way, we also need to live up to that same standard. But we don’t, do we? So there’s a little thing called grace that we can have for our kids when they mess up, knowing we are just as capable.

This doesn’t negate the responsibility we have to teach our kids right from wrong. But it does help our response to their disobedience, knowing they are learning and growing just as we are.

Positive Parenting Tools

  • Digital Wellness

The Pinwheel phone is what we got for our 11yo and it’s absolutely incredible. Check out my full review of it here. Use this link to get an extra 10% off your order!

Bark is a software app to supervise, manage, and protect your child’s device on the go. Use the THIS LINK at checkout to get an additional 1-month free trial after your first initial 7-day trial! Read my review here.

Screen Time Checklist Printable for Kids – FREE if you sign up for our weekly newsletter. Just fill out your info below. 

  • Book List for Kids and Parents

Check out my recommended books for parenting, as well as Bibles and devotionals for kids.

  • Journaling for Kids

When a child is old enough to start drawing, coloring, or writing, journaling is an incredible way to help your kids better express themselves in a free and comfortable way. Check out our Kid’s Printable Journals — created specifically to help children better express their feelings, encourage gratitude, and spark imagination. 

  • Chores for Kids

Magnetized Chalk Chart for Fridge

Implementing chores and structure in your child’s daily life is very helpful to teach them follow through, discipline, and respect. We use this chore chart in our family to help our kids keep track of their progress and keep you from constantly reminding them of their daily tasks. 

Chore Chart Printable – Get it NOW from the convenience of your own printer.

If you’re looking for something you can print out immediately and start implementing chores in your home today, check out this CHORE CHART PRINTABLE. With a Mandalorian theme, it makes for a lighthearted and fun way to encourage kids to do their daily and weekly “missions.”

  • Financial Literacy

My son loves his Greenlight Debit Card. Seriously the easiest way to pay him his allowance and teach him financial responsibility! Through an app, parents have awareness of their child’s spending.

Emotional Connectivity with Your Kids

Connecting on a deeper level emotionally with your child is CRUCIAL and sometimes more difficult. We play THIS GAME often in our family to create a safe space for our kids to feel free to share their questions and emotions, all without judgment. 

Check out these other posts on emotional connectivity on the blog!

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Hillary Gruener is a wife, mother, writer, and musician. If she's not at her desk writing content on family life, she's adventuring the world with her husband and two boys.

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