Growing up spoiled in America

A little bit spoiled can be a big problem

A couple of weeks ago, this headline caught my eye: Apple iPhone games for children rack up shocking bills. Turns out the free games for children available on iTunes contain in-app purchase opportunities – enhancements that make the games "more fun."

qotw-Q.gif My husband and I give our kids the things they need and some of the things they want, but we’re also teaching them that they have to work, save and earn things for themselves. The problem is my husband’s parents, who are very well off and buy our kids anything and everything. Merely mentioning something they like prompts a trip to the store to buy it, even if it’s nowhere near Christmas or a birthday. Our children are missing the chance to earn the things they want, but of course, they’ve now figured out that a conversation with Grandma is like money in the bank. How can we get the grandparents to stop spoiling our kids? Post answers on our Family Events Facebook Page.
qotw-A.gifLast week, we asked Family Events readers to offer their suggestions on working with a teacher who has poor classroom management skills. Here’s what our parent experts said on our Family Events Facebook fanpage:

Although your child’s teacher should have set the tone for expectations of behavior and consequences for misbehavior at the beginning of the school year, the teacher can only enforce ‘so much’ without the support of parents. —Amy

I think that teachers these days have their hands tied with all the new policies these days. I have known teachers who had to quit because they couldn’t handle the stress of unruly kids that took away the attention needed for the other children to learn. One tried to discipline with a stern talk, the mother complained and the teacher was reprimanded. She was fustrated and quit. She was a good teacher. Personally I feel 95% of the discipline should be at home.

Volunteer in the classroom and at school, even if you work outside the home, homeschool, charter schools are also an option….the more involved you are with your child’s school the stronger your voice is. —Cheryl

Teach your child to respect authority, respect others, treat others as you would want to be treated yourself. If you can’t teach your child these basic skills, how do you expect a teacher to teach a full classroom at once to behave like human beings should. —Gilma


Which means young players of Tap Zoo could spend $99 on a bucket of coins to buy animals and build a safari. (You read that right – ninety-nine dollars, not ninety-nine cents.)

Most folks reacted to this story with the sort of outrage you’d expect – "How dare Apple create a sneaky mechanism to exploit children and get their hands on more money from mom and dad?"

I reacted a little differently: Why are little kids connected to the iTunes store in the first place? Oh! It’s because they have their own accounts, in order to enjoy the many features of their own iPod Touch devices. And iPhones. And personal laptop computers.

Parents are complaining about their children’s access to online spending, but let’s face it – these are the same parents who put the devices and access into their kid’s hands in the first place.

The repercussions of spoiling our kids

Consumerism is so ingrained in our young people that their materialism no longer seems odd or unusual. For example, it’s simply a given that more than 80 percent of teens and 60 percent of tweens own cell phones. But did you know 22 percent of children ages 6 to 8 also have them?

In only two generations, children have become one of the largest and most lucrative markets for exploitation. Not only do they have discretionary dollars to spend – to the tune of some $4.2 billion annually – but they also wield enormous influence over the spending habits of their parents and grandparents. And since they’re the future spenders of tomorrow, marketers work hard to condition their spending habits today.

But marketers are getting a whole lot of help from parents, and the impact on our children is evident.

Spoiling our children – that is, buying them nearly everything they want, more than they need, at their request or without being asked – is contributing to the attitude of entitlement that our kids often exhibit in other areas of their lives.

Parents cite all sorts of reasons for spoiling kids – they want them to "fit in" with their friends, they want to make up for being too busy with work or other obligations, they think making their kids happy is most important, and sometimes, they just don’t think it matters.

But spoiled kids miss out on the chance to develop attitudes, behaviors, and competencies around working, saving, making plans and setting and achieving their goals. If we give kids everything they want, they’ll keep wanting more and more because the "wanting" is part of the process of looking forward. It’s the trigger for making goals that must be accomplished through personal effort.

Unspoiling is more than saying “no”

I once was asked in an interview just how parents could say "no" to their children, especially if kids were unaccustomed to being denied what they want. I was actually confused for a second and said, "Wait… you want to know how to say ‘no’? Well, at our house, we do it like this: No."

We need to remember that saying "no" to our children often is in their very best interests. If we’re committed to doing what is best for them – what’s right and will reap the most reward in the future – we MUST say "no." Often. And mean it.

But there’s more stopping the cycle of spoiling our kids than just saying "no." We need to regroup on the issues of money and materialism. Perhaps a family meeting is in order, when you sit down and say, "We want to change the way we make decisions about buying and owning stuff. We want you to enjoy the challenge of getting things for yourself. You deserve the satisfaction that comes with setting a goal for yourself and saving to achieve your desires."


This skill isn’t just important in consumer habits, but in all facets of their lives. So it’s a big one that we must teach if we want our kids to be genuinely happy.

The term "spoiled brat" used to be among the worst insults that could be hurled at a child. These days, it’s a phrase emblazoned on t-shirts and worn with an odd sense of pride.

If you’re feeling like the National Bank of Mom and Dad, and not a parent whose hard work and provision are appreciated by your children, perhaps it’s time to step away from the credit card and remind the kids that all the stuff in the world can’t replace the happiness that comes from not needing any of it.

Thanks for reading and sharing Family Events!

Take good care until next week,


Articles to Follow
Is Your Child Spoiled Rotten Is Your Child Spoiled Rotten?

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Playing too much with your child can be bad Playing Too Much with Your Child can be Bad

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Teaching Children Delayed Gratification Teaching Children Delayed Gratification

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Generation Me and the Workplace Generation Me and the Workplace

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This week’s best buys at your local bookstore
The Price of Priviledge The Price of Privilege:
How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids

by Madeline Levine

A startling indictment against buying our kids’ love and affection.

How to Unspoil Your Child Fast How to Unspoil Your Child Fast

by Richard Bromfield

Concrete solutions to fight the "gimmies"!

The Human Experience The Human Experience

starring Jeffrey Azize, Clifford Azize and Michael Campo

An award-winning documentary highlighting "the beauty of the human person and the resilience of the human spirit."

The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies

by Stan Berenstain and Jan Berenstain

Nobody teaches life lessons like the Berenstains!

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