How do you stop your only child from being spoiled?


I'm in a bit of a pickle. I see it...comin' straight at me and its gonna be a trainwreck...

My daughter is an only child. On top of that, I'm a single parent. And, shes the first and only grandchild. And- shes just amazing and beautiful and adorable and all those things that make even random strangers go gaga over here.

So heres the thing, everywhere we go, and I mean EVERYWHERE, people are always giving her things.

I walk into the mercado and its not long before 'ah, que chula! here mijita! you want that? oh you can HAVE it...'

usually she just picks something up and people tell her, 'oh you want it, you can have it'...

its insane. We always smile, and say thank you...were very polite about it..and of course she just eats it up, being the center of attention everywhere we go...

But, then comes the times when its just US- and we go say, to the store .. and she wants something...and..sometimes I just DONT have the money. then the fit happens...and her fits arent that bad..she doesnt throw her self on the floor or anything, but its the additude...the pouting, the 'i hate you your so mean mom''....

she doesnt understand, I think, why everyone else in the world just gives her everything, but i, sometimes cant.

So what do I do? With strangers, I'm more lenient, thinking I dont want to be rude, and..they are just being nice to a polite young harm..

but with family, i think i should have a different approach. it would make it a whole lot easier if i could at least cut THAT out....but, for example, I'm a recent convert...i've always believed in God, but just these past couple years i've been growing and living in my faith...

so my family, being very liberal..already thinks (as the stereotype with religious people goes) that i have some kinda 'holier than thou' additude...which i dont, but they just..have this almost disgust for the fact that i am committed to living this lifestyle. so i KNOW that if i ask them to please, not give so many gifts, or - if they give her something and i say no, she cant have it, its going to be a BIG deal...

like what they're not good enough to give her presents, or something...i just know itd be drama..i could hear my mom now, 'thats my granddaughter and my only one and how dare you..blah blah blah..' theres gotta be some common ground without offending anyone..

but geez...this girls spoiled. totally spoiled...sometimes i look at her when she doesnt get her way and, as beautiful as she is, it just looks ugly...

any help? stories?? etc? thanks ladies..


With strangers, put a stop to it. Say politely, thank you but no thank you. If they press, just say, “Thank you but I will raise my child as I see fit” and walk away.

I mean really. How bizarre that total strangers walk up and give her things. That makes her a target for child molestors that you allow it. What will happen if you aren’t there and a man walks up and wants to give her something! Uh, no way.

You must teach her rewards are earned, toys and candy at the store are not to be asked for, gifts will be given to her on occassions like birthdays and such.

You are a single parent and are likely prone to falling into the “giver her stuff because I feel guilty” or the “want to be her friend.”

Nip it now. You are the parent. You set the boundaries. You call the shots. You need to nip this temper tantrum and entitlement attitude NOW.

As for your family, their drama is their problem. Put your foot down. You are the parent. Act like it. Parenting is hard work if you do it right. You are going to have to set the boundaries and mean it. If it means your parents are going to have to respect your parenting choices and learn new behaviors so be it. If they won’t learn new behaviors you are going to have to limit your time with them.

If they continue to give gifts, you and your child are going to have to go through the toys at home and when something comes in the house, something goes out to charity for a child who doesn’t have toys. You need to teach your child empathy and compassion for others, so volunteer together in a place where she interacts with others less fortunate than her.

Get some parenting books by Dr Ray Guarendi and Dr Greg Popcak. Watch Supernanny. Seriously. It’s all about establishing boundaries and rules and then following through.


you are a sensible parent. when sensible parents see a train wreck coming, they're usually right. when the train wreck is their own child, they MUST act decisively. you are responsible to God for your girl.

you are the sensible parent and your daughter is an easy-to-indulge child. she will need **lots **of what you have to offer: LIMITS.

if she picks up something in the store say, "please put that down." if the merchant offers for her to keep it, say "thank you so much, but please, give her gift to the next child who does not have so much as us."

fits? only-children are NOT the only ones who have fits in stores. stop what you're doing. take her by the hand and leave the store. does that mean you have no bread for dinner? tell her, "now we have no bread for dinner because you behaved badly in the store."

she calls you mean and insults you? she can stand in the corner or write Bible verses (depending on her age. how old is she...?) children should NOT speak to their parents that way.

bring her to do charitable works. pack groceries at the food closet. rake leaves for old people. have her help you do service for your family. teach her to pray.

you make a rule to family: "No one gives her anything-- no candy, no toys, no clothes without consulting me first. don't undermine me with my daughter, don't teach her to keep secrets from me. or I will limit your access to her." you can put limits on her gifts-- she has to eat dinner before the candy. she has to do chores to earn the extra toy, she has to pick up her room (or help if she's little) to earn the new clothes.

resulting family drama is of no concern to you. ignore it.


1ke was posting while i was typing..... OP, there's **real **confirmation in the messages of our posts.


Coming here to say the same thing. At least you don't seem to have a daddy somewhere playing DisneyLand daddy and spoiling her and making you the bad guy.

Strangers... when they offer her things, smile and say "She's getting to the age where we can't have her taking things from strangers. But thank you!"

With family...

this isn't about you living up to a faith or not. Don't let them muddy the waters.

Just say to them: We have too much. Please no gifts. If you must, here's the bank account number for her college fund. Please contribute to that so someday she can afford school. Long after the toys are broken or thrown away, that generosity will really count!

Tell abuela that her greatest gift to your daughter is her time and talent. That you want her to teach your daughter to cook. THAT is the kind of memory and time your daughter will cherish after all the toys and clothes are outgrown.

If she must give her a gift, please limit it to one a month.

Two for her birthday and Christmas.

Tell her you don't want your daughter to grow up being a spoiled brat and besides, getting to know abuela is the best gift ever!

Grandma might understand that one.

As for store trips.... eventually mine got to the point I couldn't stand shopping with them any more. So a new rule went into effect: If you demand it in the store, that guarantees I WON'T buy it. And if you throw a tantrum, then you don't get to go to the store for the next shopping trip.

Anything they asked for I told them no. So they learned if they wanted something to keep quiet. I knew what they liked. If I had the money I'd put some treats in the cart. But the best way to guarantee we only bought necessities was to annoy me at the store.

she's old enough that tantrums shouldn't work. "You have a choice. Continue your complaining or we leave this shopping cart right here and go to the car and go home." You'd be surprised how quickly the tantrum ends when you start walking and leaving the basket behind.

Disrespect... she can go to her room and sit on her bed till your feelings arent' hurt anymore.

And I agree... start picking toys out to give to Goodwill and anything new means something old has to leave.

She'll get to the point she dreads a new gift if it means she has to give something away.

And make sure she sees how lucky she is. Have her hang around families with lots of kids. Make her do volunteer work as she gets older.

And you can share this story with your mom.

My MIL always bought the kids gifts. Every time they saw her she had gifts waiting. Eventually the kids admitted when they went to see her that they were looking more forward to the gifts than to her. Tell your mother you want your daughter to look forward to seeing her, not what she bought her. ;)


I am a parent of an only, also a daughter. :slight_smile: She is all grown up now. How old is your daughter?

People gave my daughter stuff when she was young. As she got older people gave her less. But yeah, it piles up.

For your own sanity, you can explain even to a very young child that you have to pay for the things you get. If she sees something at the store, tell her she can buy it when she has her own money. You know she doesn’t have the money, but that isn’t the point.

Also, you can use this to teach her to give. If you know there are certain places or days that more of the giving occurs, make an agreement before setting out that anything she gets that day she will politely thank the person for giving it, but tell her that you two will have a secret, that anything she gets she will give away to someone who needs it. It can even be a great game if you keep it positive. Don’t force it. Play it by ear, and maybe ask her at the end of the day if she wants to pick out one thing to keep. If she is age 2-ish, it may not work yet.


Instead of trying to deny her things, why don't you take her somewhere where she can volunteer to help those less fortunate than her?


This is a difficult one..I and my wife have a large family and still each is 'spoiled' in some ways..yet just fine in others. Maybe taking the kid to see more poverty may help somewhat..a child is sensitve to other children and thus can see deeper then expected. childhood is a precious moment in ones life and dont deprive the child of items it needs,yet it will suffer like all the rest of us in many ways. It will face errors and no hits in school as well at gentle yet understanding,teach the child to share more with those who have none..the horrible affair at Haiti is just such an example..point out how just the bare necessities are and water for so many etc etc..give the child a stone soup meal once in a while..this is the classic story of how to teach humility..its not stone of course but all in the empty bowl once in a while may help...all the best..Pas


I can't add anything to the excellent advice you have recieved from 1ke and monicatholic. However, I did want to share one thing that worked well for me and my only child. It may be too late for you, because we started it when she was very, very young, but it may help someone else reading.

It was very, very important to me that she not pitch fits in stores. I read somewhere that the little ones don't really want to keep everything they see - they just want to see it up close. So, anything that DD saw, I allowed her to hold and look at for a short time, and then I told her it had to "go night-night," which meant putting it back in its place. It worked like a charm. She got to inspect a lot of interesting things, and I didn't have to buy any of them or put up with a fight from her. I never had to say no, so that word was not so overused that it lost its meaning. I simply asked, "Would you like to see that?" Having it was not an option that was even discussed.

Hope this helps someone.



Teach her gratitude and humility.

Do not give false or vain compliments.

Read everything Dr Ray Gurendi has written :slight_smile:


our little one is almost three— shes the only grandchild on one side, the youngest grandchild (the others are adults now) on the other side, has something like 20 aunts and uncles, and oh yeah, was adopted, so her birthmother loves to spoil her too when we get together!

I agree about holding things in stores-- we let Maggie hold just about anything she wants to hold-- and we buy next to none of it. When we get to the check out line we hand it to the cashier and say “thank you, we didnt really want to buy this. Maggie jsut wanted to look at it while we shopped”. The first few times, she threw fits, but now she knows the drill!

Strangers often give my daughter things too-- at Dunkin Donuts they always hand her a Munchkin, or a man tried to buy her a candy in the check out line at the grocery the other day. All I said was “thank you thats so sweet of you, but shes a bit too little for candy, but really thank you so much!” He was the sweetest old man, and he wasnt a bit offended! Sometimes it happens too fast and theres not much you can do-- but most of the time you can see it coming and head it off.

How old is your daughter? We had a little drama about people buying her things as well-- but all I had to say to the family was “Maggie is having a hard time understanding about sharing, because she is given so much. We know that you guys love her and want to give her things to make her happy, but shes getting the wrong idea at this stage in her life. We’re trying to teach her about earning things through her good behavior. Can we take a break for a few months?”

I think my mom was a little offended, but that only lasted a day or so. She still gives us new clothes and stuff, but it has REALLY slowed down, which is good. Used to be that Maggie would TOUCH something and Nana would be racing to the cashier with her VISA card out :slight_smile:

Also, sometimes we tell Maggie “no”, for no good reason. I just think it’s good for her to hear no, even if we CAN afford it, even if there ISNT a good reason. The good reason is that I think its good for her character to hear no. And honestly, mostly she takes ‘no’ just fine, now that she hears it consistently. We dont even have sulking very much anymore :slight_smile:


Excellent advice from everyone. I also agree with the “looking” at things for young children. For example when my little ones would see lollipops/suckers at the cash register at Starbucks I would say those are “just for looking, not for touching” and they could stare all they wanted! :wink:

I would also just mention something obvious but which bears repeating. You will be doing some things it seems as a parent OVER and OVER and OVER and think sometimes they’ll never get it. But if you are consistent and just hold the line eventually your child will accept the boundary. It’s a learning process and depending on your child’s personality some teaching (discipline) will take longer to sink in than others. Don’t expect change overnight just be consistent.

Another thing I find helpful is if you have some kind of “hot spot” situation that you think your child may kick up a fuss about, anticipate it. When you are planning to go shopping before you get there at home or in the car talk to your child calmly and say “We are going into the store, how to we behave in a store? What is good behavior?”. Make sure your child has clear expectations. For example, no running or screaming but instead be friendly and helpful. When my three children are well-behaved in any situation I try to never take it for granted but tell them how much I enjoyed being with them and what a pleasure it was to have them help me in the store etc. Praise positive behavior don’t ignore it. Ignore behavior you DON’T want.

You can also reward positive behavior not with material things but by reading your daughter one of her favorite books when you get home or some other special one-on-one time.

Also you will need to accept that at times you will be “mean mom” if you want a child who is pleasure to be around. Oh and another good tip is to work on one discipline issue at a time. It takes a while to form good habits and change behavior so focus on ONE area that you want to see positive change and wait until you see a consistent positive result until you focus on something else. Make sure you get the rest of your family and friends on board to help you reinforce positive behavior if possible.

God bless ;):thumbsup:


[quote="1ke, post:2, topic:183439"]

You must teach her rewards are earned, toys and candy at the store are not to be asked for, gifts will be given to her on occassions like birthdays and such.

You are a single parent and are likely prone to falling into the "giver her stuff because I feel guilty" or the "want to be her friend."

This hits two really good points I wanted to bring up...

  1. Chores...

Shes 5, going to be 6 in March. And I personally TOTALLY feel that she needs to have a chore. Responsiblity...she can earn money, and then buy her own self something maybe once a week, something small of course, like a little trinkety-toy.. I've tried putting her on dishes, and she'll do em', but not ALL of em..and then theyre not really done right so I'm not trying to fight her on that...We live in apts so I cant send her out to do the trash...I dont want her cleaning stuff with chemicals...

Up until now, we just do everything together...for example, lets say I'm doing the laundry...she'll help sort...go down there with me...come back up with me fold...she knows how to group socks...she puts away her laundry...

But us just 'doing everything together' kinda leads me also into #2- any suggestions on starter chores for age 6?

  1. Being Friends....

Sometimes she gets mad, and she'll say...'your not my friend anymore'

and i totally **** her off by replying, 'your right, I'm NOT your friend, I'm your MOM'

well I'm lucky she hasnt gotten that far yet, but, like I said I can see it coming if I dont do something now...she's always been a very well behaved, mild mannered child...but as she's getting into this new stage (shes turning 6) its like...a WHOLE new person sometimes...I'm thinking in my brain "Is this my same sweet angel??"

as shes got her hand on her hip telling ME to go to MY room....

oh heck no!! LOL..I laugh now but at the time...the nerve of the girl!

But the rule: If you demand it in the store, that guarantees I WON'T buy it. And if you throw a tantrum, then you don't get to go to the store for the next shopping trip.

I like this..I'm going to put this into place..up until now its been, 'Okay, you get ONE thing...dont pick the FIRST thing, because you might see something else and no, you only get ONE thing'


Usually I have to clean out her closets about 4 times a LEAST..and I end up with 2 big black garbage bags of STUFF and I drop it off @ sacred heart...but I think putting something like this into place will clean it out as I go along- AND teach her a thing or two about getting/giving...

:thumbsup: good advice thank you guys all so much...


There are the “chores” my almost three year old does:

  1. clothes in the laundry basket
  2. toys away before bed
  3. put plate/cup in the sink
  4. put trash in the trashcan
  5. feed the cat (supervised heavily, for obvious reasons :))

For a first/second grader I would recommend all of the above, plus

  1. help fold clothes and put own clothes away
  2. dry dishes as Momma washes them (since washing them is kind of tricky for her at t his point)
  3. empty wastepaper baskets on trash day
  4. vacuum daily

You dont want to overdo it, but also they can ususally handle more than ewe give them credit for! This way she can earn an ‘allowance’, and then SHE has to choose waht to spend her money on, or if to save it for next time.

I might get out of the habit of letting her buy something every time you go someplace too. Once shes out of the habit, I think things will get easier!

Good luck :slight_smile:


So would this be any different if you had more than one kid? Read the below and see that people who have more than one kid have to deal with this as well:


You've gotten so much good advice. I particularly like the idea of encouraging your mom to just spend time with her--teach her to cook or whatever your mom's hobby is.

6 is a bit young to expect perfection in dishwashing, but if she at least gets the plates and silverware done, ior clears the table for you to wash, that will be helpful.

Sorting laundry, folding, emptying the little trashcans, dusting, all good chores for a child her age.

Also, limiting her clothes and toys and regularly cleaning out her room. When my kids were little and got ten thousand toys for a bithday (seems like), we didn't always make them get rid of an older toy--but often gave away the new gifts. They were part of deciding, but often they preferred the item they already owned and the charity always appreciated receiving new toys and clothes!


I think it is…

without another parent in the house…i think its easier for them to view you as a friend…its weird…i’d have to find a way to put it into words.


[quote="Charlotte408, post:17, topic:183439"]
I think it is...

without another parent in the house..i think its easier for them to view you as a friend...its weird...i'd have to find a way to put it into words.


Liberanos had to raise her children after her divorce, so she writes from that perspective as well.


Teach your little girl to think of others first - and do this as young as possible; maybe this sounds crazy, but it will be the best thing you can do for her ever. I know, I have 5 girls.

For example, when receiving countless gifts, teach her to give them away to others less fortunate - accept things from strangers telling the giver ’ We will accept it only if you allow us to share it with . . …" . .

My 8-year old astonishes me and her older siblings almost daily with her generous interaction with other kiddos - she has never thrown a tantrum in her life - and she is the happiest kiddo I have ever seen. I’m sad that it took 4 older sisters for us to ‘perfect’ this, but her example daily ‘converts’ her older sisters and me - so our lost-opportunity was not totally lost.


If she’s viewing you as a friend, that is YOUR issue. YOU need to establish a boundary then that you live in the adult world and you are her mom.

I take it she doesn’t get out much with her little friends? She needs her own time and place to individuate herself from you. Separate activities sometimes in the house. You have a friend of your own over for lunch and she isn’t hanging around listening in, but sent up to her room while the mommies talk or something.

She’ll have lots of friends in her life, but only one mother. Allowing her to talk back to you like she’s a peer is not good. The answer to that is “I’m the mommy. I wear the cape. I make the woosh woosh noises!” (Okay, you have to have flair on FB to get that one.)

She’s stepping into a new phase. She’ll go through several. When she’s about 12 you’ll miss these sweet days.

And when she tells you that people who make her mad aren’t her friend anymore… now is the time to briefly tell her everytime she says that “Well, then you’ll end up being a very lonely person if you do that.”

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