Putting a Crack in the Silver Spoon

Desiree Dylong


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Remember the days when the tooth fairy used to dish out 50 cents or a dollar in exchange for a lost tooth? Well, these days, it seems that kids are getting $5, sometimes even $10 per tooth from the tooth fairy, and it’s not because she’s more generous than before.

Kids are spoiled. There’s probably at least one child that every individual has met in their lifetime that was spoiled rotten. Besides having a child of a friend or family member as an example, spoiled kids are also portrayed in the media. Remember MTV’s “My Super Sweet 16”?

The show gave viewers a pass into the lavish lifestyle of teens whose parents were extremely wealthy and even, in some cases, famous. Every episode showed a privileged teen as they planned their upcoming birthday parties. It became the norm for the birthday girl, or sometimes birthday boy, to get the car they wanted towards the end of the party and for their friends to shout out their feelings about how the party was the best ever. Despite the shallow entertainment value, the show was rather frustrating since it posed questions and thoughts such as, “Why are these kids getting everything they want?” and “If that were my kid, they wouldn’t get away with half of the stuff this brat is getting away with.”

“My Super Sweet 16” is an extreme example of a spoiled child, but what about the less extreme cases? For instance, there are children who have mp3 players, video game counsels, and even get to go on the occasional shopping spree. Would these children be considered spoiled?

According to Susan Newman Ph.D, there are ways to see if a parent is truly spoiling their child. In her article, “Are You Unwittingly Spoiling Your Child Part –II” from Psychology Today.com, Newman addresses how to tell if a child is spoiled and the psychological reasons that parents let it happen. She opens her article by asking readers if their kids have a lot of undeserved possessions. The idea of “underserved” versus “earned” is important since for many people, this is what draws the line when it comes to spoiled kids. It’s different when a child is given something nice because they got all A’s on their report card versus a child who got a new Xbox game just because.

This is partly why “My Super Sweet 16” was always so frustrating. A lot of the episodes consisted of teens holding a sense of strong entitlement. In her article, Newman mentions that spoiled kids have the “I have to have it” syndrome, which connects to the idea of entitlement. These kids feel that since it’s their birthday, or whatever the situation may be, they should and need to get what they want.

However, even though the act of spoiling a child may seem simple on the outside, Newman addresses psychological reasons. For instance, spoiling is a way for parents to get their kid’s appreciation. They want to give their child what they were never given in their own adolescence and they want to make up for long hours at work. Newman suggests some ways to amend the issue of spoiling, such as not giving out allowance unless it is a product of hard work, and not going crazy when it comes to gift giving. Instead, parents can teach their children how to make shorter gift lists based on what they truly want for that particular holiday.

An important point that Newman makes in her article is how parents affect their child’s character, “Parental patterns and attitudes may be the biggest contributor to their children’s value systems. If you feel your children are spoiled, it is time to re-evaluate what makes you happy and may be best for your children’s moral development by redefining your own priorities.”

Spoiling a child has a deep effect on the person they will become. When a child is instilled with work ethic and the idea that they must be thankful and humble for what they have, it erases the chance that they’ll grow up feeling entitled.

The idea of entitlement is what draws the line between kids who may have nice things and kids who are spoiled brats. Kids can benefit from learning that no one is entitled to anything and one should be grateful for what they already have and work hard for the things they wish to have.