Spoiled Kids are Unhappy Kids

by LisaBunnage on November 30, 2012

Is this true?  Are spoiled kids unhappy?  Well, it’s been my experience that they’re definitely the ones most likely to act out and have a sense of self-entitlement.  They’re also most likely to whine, disrespect parents and cry when they don’t get what they want.  They’ve been taught that getting everything you want is not only possible, but it’s expected.  The world’s not set up to cater to spoiled people so as these kids grow up the real world is quite a slap in the face to them.

So if tantrums and whining are indicative of unhappiness then yes, spoiled kids are unhappy kids.

Let’s focus here on the sense of self-entitlement as this is the trait I’ve seen lead to the most trouble with teens and young adults.  Having the attitude that the world owes you a living is not a highly functional, realistic or likeable quality.  Those types are often whiny, demanding, negative and always running on “the glass half empty” mentality.  You don’t want to do that to your kids.

So how do you avoid giving them everything they want and ask for as they’re growing up if you have the resources to do so and get a lot of joy out of it?  You simply refrain because you love them and want what’s best for them.  You want them to learn how to wait and earn what they want, and be happy with the fact that they don’t always get what they want.  Life’s not fair, and the earlier you teach them this the better.

It’s true that little kids who get everything their own way are unsettled and often even miserable.  Kids crave structure, discipline and guidance.  When they’re spoiled they feel more in charge and have less respect for their parents.  Parents don’t always get that, but kids do when I ask the right questions.  They’re amazing, they will literally tell me they wish their parents wouldn’t spoil them as they don’t like themselves as much when they get everything they want and everything their own way.  It affects their self-esteem and pride.  They may even brag about being spoiled yet inside they’re not happy with it.

I don’t know if it’s still done, but when my kids were little many of their friends were collecting all the toys that came with McDonalds Happy Meals.  We didn’t eat there so wasn’t even an issue but what always surprised me was how parents would freak out if they couldn’t get all those junky little toys or whatever for their kids.  The kids would tantrum and have a fit if they missed out on the purple turtle, or whatever.  Those toys were sort of like a drug.  The kids were all high in the moment but then quickly wanting more.  Was never enough.

My son said he was teased for not having all those junky collectibles; the other kids thought he was poor because of it (ha ha).  Did he care that he didn’t have the purple turtle?  Absolutely not.  He never got caught up in that frantic materialistic mentality.

A good friend of mine said she felt sorry for my kids because I refused to give in and get them all that junk.  I didn’t like what it did to kids, but I didn’t tell her that.  I looked over at all our kids and hers were the ones whining, having tantrums and continually coming over demanding her attention, more treats, etc.  My kids were happily playing with the tons of activities that were there.  We were at a Play Centre by the way so hardly a boring place.  I was a good friend, never pointed out which kids looked happy and which ones didn’t.

My kids knew if they asked for something, they wouldn’t get it.  If I asked them what they’d like for birthday, etc., that was different.  But it’s not a treat if your kids ask for and even demand it.  We’d be standing at the checkout at the supermarket and they’d be looking at the chocolate bars with all the other kids.  The other kids were whining and carrying on and even touching all the candy … yuck.  If my kids acted like that they knew not only would they not get a treat, they’d be punished for acting so rude.  When they did get a treat, it was appreciated.

I’m digressing here but I’ve told this to parents who said they like to reward their kids for being good.  I guess that’s the difference right there.  I just expected my kids to be good.  Treats were just that:  treats … not rewards for good behaviour.  But if I ever caught them doing something especially kind and thoughtful for someone … big reward for that!!!

I was at the other end of the spectrum with spoiling yet my kids never went without anything they needed.  And they certainly got nice stuff for occasions.  But other than that?  Nope.  I was determined to build polite, appreciative, unmaterialistic young people.  They’re grown now … and it worked.

So please don’t spoil your children, no matter how tempting it is.  Take pride in the fact that you know you’re being kind by NOT spoiling them.

By the way, it’s always okay to spoil kids with love and fun (interactive with you is especially good).  That increases their self-esteem, self-worth and they’ll have more respect for you for sure!!!  A lot of acting out is done to get parents’ attention, approval and validation.  That’s certainly not the only reasons kids act out, but it’s a big one and something I often have to identify with clients.
Oh my, this is a hard one to stop writing as I just thought of another great point:  how to have fun with your kids.  Are a zillion different fun activities I did with mine and other peoples’ kids, all on their level but tweeked to make it fun for me too.  That’s a huge blog, will make a note to do that in future.

My magic shows are legendary, still giggle at how lame they were, but they were fun for kids AND me.  Okay, so maybe they’re not “legendary”, but I remember them with a smile on my face.  My kids are more likely to roll their eyes at the memory … but what do they know :).

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach (604-944-7479)(Email:  lisa@bratbusters.com)

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

LisaBunnage January 4, 2013 at 2:02 pm


I really enjoy reading your articles.  My youngest is in Grade 12 but the truth in what you say will stand the test of time.  That is, when I become a Grandma (hopefully) in the next decade, what you write here will still be valid.  Probably more so as Psychology continues to be well-utilized in the marketing of products and services to parents/via their children.  Marketing Management personnel for McDonalds would be very proud to read that you describe those toys as akin to drugs.  That would be a success for them.

I have a feeling we were raising our children around the same time. I remember those McDonald’s toys well even though I only took the children there if another parent suggested it as a meeting place. I have no problem with successful marketing–I just recognize when I’m being manipulated and make a decision whether I accept the consequences or opt out.

Thanks for putting me on your article list.


Hi Marilyn,

McDonalds and others marketing to the public are in business and should be doing exactly what they’re doing to be good in business.  I never once blamed them for anything to do with my kids, they were MY responsibility, not McDonalds’.  

I’ve even heard of parents who complain to stores about all the goodies at the checkout.  Well, if you can’t control your kids at the checkout, that’s your fault, not the store’s.  But … parenting these days is more of a blame game than ever.  If kids aren’t turning out well it’s the school’s fault, the coach’s fault, McDonalds’ fault, etc., etc.  

That mentality drives me nuts for 2 reasons:
1. Parents are relinquishing their parenting power and responsibilities.
2. It’s just stupid.  

I specialize in teenagers and those parents often call me to fix all the mistakes they’ve done leading up to these difficult years.  Yes, I can help, but prevention really is key.  Get them when they’re little and guide them well so that you’ll sail through the teen years.  

Is it parents’ fault when their kids go astray?  Yes and no.  Yes in that it probably could’ve been prevented.  No in that the parents just didn’t know how to be strong leaders.  More lack of knowledge as certainly not lack of love and great intentions.  

I have the utmost respect and compassion for my clients.  I see exactly where they’ve gone wrong and try to guide them into change.  It’s a challenge but once they start to see results, well, I get all emotional right along with them.  My job is extremely humbling and a huge responsibility.  I can’t change the way society views parenting, but I’m certainly trying.

Phew, that was a speech wasn’t it?!  

Have a great day and let me know if I can print your email … non-identifying.




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