If your child is spoiled you only have yourself to blame, according to parenting expert Dr. Michele Borba and I’m not admitting that my children are spoiled. They are loved, and provided for. There’s a difference.
Still I was startled when my son Philip, 12, texted me yesterday to let me know he was hungry. He was home and I was at school with the little kids. I took a moment to wonder when exactly I had transitioned from “mother” to “butler” and then texted him back, suggesting he get off his butt, walk all the way to the kitchen and get himself something to eat because I was busy.
When I eventually arrived home I said, “Did you find something you eat Your Royal Highness”, thinking mocking him might prevent further spoilage. Okay, so he’s a little spoiled.
Still, he’s no Prince George.
During a recent visit to see Britain's America's Cup ship with wife Kate, Prince William was asked what son Prince George received for his recent third birthday. He said, "I am not telling, he got too many things, he’s far too spoiled."
The questions parents like me (and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) are left with is, can spoiled children become good adults? Or are they spoiled for good?
Can children who have only known privilege and comfort avoid becoming entitled grown ups who expect everything to be handed to them? Or have we raised an employer's worst nightmare?
I think we can all agree that Prince William is a lovely despite his privileged upbringing and so too is Prince Harry. Most of us attribute the fact they turned out well to their late mother Diana who was one of the most compassionate royals the world has ever seen.
What we wanted to be when we were kids. Article continues after this video.
Still, unspoiling a child is much harder than not spoiling them in the first place but we're parents, it's natural for us to want to give our children a better childhood than we had. Even if we made sure to avoid spoiling our kids a relative such as a grandparent is normally ready to step in and do it for us.
Dr. Michele Borba says lavishing children with love, gifts and other material possessions doesn't do as much harm as we think because most children are capable of comparing their lives to others who are less fortunate. She says it's more about raising children to have good attitudes that puts them on the right path to adulthood.
"Bad attitudes are far more deadly than mere behaviors because they are more entrenched and are kids’ operating beliefs for life," she writes on her website.
"And there lies the danger: bad attitudes such as disrespect, bullying, arrogance, cheating are becoming “acceptable” to all too many kids."
That means it is possible to spoil children rotten and have them become responsible members of society as long as they appreciate it.
Dr. Borba is big on warning parents about what she calls the Big Brat Factor. She says, "Parenting is not a popularity contest!"
You can spoil your children with material possessions if you must as long as you still take the time to teach them to learn how to deal with setbacks, nurture empathy, teach financial responsiblity, avoid feeling guilty when you have to say "no", teach them to give as well as receive and encourage them to think not only of themselves but about others.
You want to raise a child who is willing to share.
Dr. Michele Borba is an educational psychologist, parenting expert and author of 22 books including Don't Give Me That Attitude! You can visit her website or follow her on Twitter @MicheleBorba.