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15 Ways to Stop Spoiling Your Kids

 Stop Spoiling Your Children

It's time to stop spoiling our children.

Parents have abdicated their instinctual jobs as parents in favor of letting the CULTURE raise their children. Children spend more waking hours with peers than they do with parents. 

How in the world do we expect peers to raise peers? The parent/child relationship carries less and less meaning as each generation unfolds, and I believe the results are disastrous.

At no other time, however, have children had so MUCH. 

iPhone: √

Gaming system: √

$100 (or more) sneakers: √

Private lessons/camps/activities: √

... the list could go on and on

What our children NEED is more of their parents, and less STUFF! 

As a consequence of all this STUFF, children are dependent for longer, have much less concern for others, and are losing that feeling of accomplishment that comes from plain old HARD WORK.

Sometimes it feels like my family swims upstream - battling against the current of pop culture and society. We homeschool, take part in fewer activities, and often say NO to extracurriculars.

We're holding onto our kids (knowing that hopefully holding onto them in the early years will create children who are MORE independent at an earlier age)! 

This model of child rearing isn't always popular, but I'm not out to win a popularity contest. 



15 Ways to Stop Spoiling Your Kids

15 Ways to Stop Spoiling Your Kids:

1. Give them responsibility. Children need to be responsible for the running of a household. Make them cook, clean, do the laundry, cut the grass, and anything else you can think of.  

2.  Stop affording them every opportunity.  Your children don't need every sports activity, music group, or social opportunity. Sometimes in efforts to help our children discover their "talents" we forget to place family time and service to others first. 

3. Encourage humbleness. In a culture that celebrates winning and individual achievement, teach your children to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of others. Our children also need to learn to give GOD credit before themselves. 

4. Give them opportunities for service IN LIEU OF activities for themselves. "Community service hours" are  in vogue now. What a sad concept. When we have to require our children to serve the mentality is that it's another "box to be checked" on a transcript. Provide meaningful service opportunities for your children and don't count the hours. Serve to serve. 

5.  Don't let them take part in  social networks. Social media focuses kids INWARD and also breeds comparison. We've said no to social media for our kids and I do not regret the decision. 

6. Give them your TIME.  It's easy to give your child THINGS. In the end, however, they really want your TIME. The parent/child attachment is the most important relationship for our children. Most children see their peers more than their parents - which leads to unhealthy peer attachment.  Never before in our history has peer pressure and influence been so pronounced, and it's NOT OK.

7. Stop doing things for them.  If your children are capable of doing something themselves, expect they should always do that. It's ok to serve your children every now and then, but consistently being a servant to them enables a child to be spoiled and lazy.

8. Be generous - REALLY generous. Do your children witness YOU giving sacrificially (not just giving the "extras") to people in need? Are your children forced to give up something they really love to help someone else? Do you talk with your children about tithing? 

9. Let them be bored.  The gift of boredom is a beautiful thing. Boredom inspires great creativity and teaches our children that life isn't always exciting. 

10. Make them shop at the thrift store and wear cheap sneakers. Yes, I'm serious on this one. One day they may have to do this, and it's just being a good steward of our money to not give our children the latest and greatest of everything.  My daughter and I have more fun making thrift store finds and saving money. We do nothing for our kids when we just buy them things at full price. (If they are worried about not fitting in with their peers because of their shoes that is just sad. You need to evaluate your child's peer group if that is the case.)

11. Tell them NO (even when it's hard on YOU). If your child wants to do a particular activity but you feel it will cut into your family time, say NO. You have authority over your child and know what is best. If your child wants to play video games but you know they really shouldn't spend their time in that way (although it would make for a quiet afternoon for you). Kids need limits and need to know their every wish will not always be granted. 

12. Give them the courage to be DIFFERENT.  Just because everyone else is doing it doesn't mean we have to. Model for your children that being different is wonderful! We don't all have to make the same educational choices, listen to the same music, or do the same things in our free time.

13. Don't give them Christmas presents. Really, I'm not joking (we did this four years ago and it was our best Christmas ever - now we limit to three small gifts). Take that money and shop with your children for presents for a child that REALLY NEEDS THEM. Donate to an orphanage. Pack as many Operation Christmas Child boxes as you possibly can. Once Christmas is over our own children will probably never miss the presents, but the gifts to a child in need go appreciated for a huge amount of time.

14. Show them poverty up close and personal. Let your children go on a mission trip. Serve with them in a homeless shelter (remember - don't do it for the "community service" hours). Go to an impoverished area and pass out Manna Bags. It's not good enough to just give money to these causes, our children need to meet people that have dire, immediate needs. 

15. Don't give them an allowance. Kids need to work around the house just because it's their responsibility as a member of a family. My kids can do above and beyond jobs for me and I will attach a monetary amount to them. My daughter only has money to spend if she has earned it that way or through babysitting. 


Do you think kids today are spoiled? 

Would you add anything else to this list?


Reader Comments (14)

Right there with you Mary. We do all those things you listed and still a work in progress...changing the way in which we, as parents think and how we were raised will take time but it's so worth it! Great post!

April 7, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermelissa newell

Thank You again for another well spoken post :) God is using you in a mighty way in my life and you are giving me courage to be a better mom. Thank you for this !!

April 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmy Morehead

I love this post! Fortunately, I already implement a lot of these ways, however not by choice. I can't afford all the activities, etc. so I've had to say no and explain it to my children. My oldest son loves a certain brand and he's learned to shop clearance! But I've often felt resentful that this is how we've had to do things and we can't do what every one else is doing. So thank you for this post and reminding me what's most important. Today, I am giving thanks to God for not allowing this behavior from me.

April 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

Amen, Mary!! I know some families where every child has a TV in their room, multiple electronic devices, enough clothes to clothe an entire village - we are a consumer society.

I also know a woman who doesn't make her kids lift a finger - ever - because she says God wants her to serve her family. :/

April 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMary

I laughed when I read "Give them the courage to be DIFFERENT." I think I may have done that one too well!

My children play this game called "Who's the weirdo" around the dinner table. Where they look for the one person who is different in one way or another. Like maybe we all have on a blue shirt except 1 person has on a red one. Or maybe only one person is using a straw, therefore making them the weirdo. My kids strive to BE the 'weirdo' in the game LOL

But seriously, great list.

April 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSonita Lewis

I love love love this post. I was catching up with a friend from many years ago last weekend, and when we were talking about how many kids I have (she doesn't have kids), she kept saying, "I hope you have a really big house!" We laughed about it, but really, when did that become the norm? And I don't know if you saw my instagram of the new Lamborghini driving next to us on the way home from church yesterday, but that kind of thing is normal where we live; it's hard to keep a grip on reality! Anyway, it's not just our kids that are spoiled. It's most of us adults, too.

April 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJamie {See Jamie Blog}

Thank you for these wonderful ideas, Mary! One other thing we do is pray as a family every morning and night for others. We do volunteer each week at a nursing home, but I try to first and foremost serve people in our immediate family, like grandparents and siblings. Sometimes it's a lot easier to serve homeless people rather than those closest to us.

Before Lent we spoke with our kids about what they would offer up as a sacrifice and they choose various things. It's been a good exercise in simplicity and learning to do without. They are too young to fast from food, but they can fast from desserts, video games, TV. We try to fast in this way as much as possible, but especially during the season of Lent. We will make a sacrifice (such as not listening to music in the car) and offer it up for a particular intention.

Thanks again!

April 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKristen

"Are your children forced to give up something they really love to help someone else?"


You can't be serious.

Since when has being forced to give up something you love an admirable thing?

When you are forced to do it, it is a penalty or a punishment, not a sacrifice.

Voluntary sacrifice can build character.

Sacrifice at gun point is extortion and nothing more.

April 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTater


I believe that by nature many children must be TAUGHT (and yes, sometimes even forced) to do the right thing. If no one ever forces them to do what is right, how will they ever learn?

I respectfully disagree with your comment. Voluntary sacrifice won't come for children unless they experienced the wonderful feelings that have come from being generous - and, like I stated before, I don't think this always comes naturally for adults or children in our culture today.

April 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMary

Wonderful post! As a mom of three, I have days where I wonder what went wrong? Why do my kids appreciate so little? We all make the excuse that we are busy and just don't have the time to instill core values in our kids. It's our jobs and we need to make the time and figure out how to stop spoiling our kids and teach them morals and responsibility.

Again, great advice! Thanks so much for sharing!

Suzanne Wind
Mom with a Mission
Author of The SMART Playbook

April 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne Wind

THis is so good, Mary.

April 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAlicia @ La Famille

Excellent reminders! The funny thing is, after reading the post, the advertisement at the bottom was for Disney World! Gotta have that! LOL But seriously, this is a very healthy list! Thank you for sharing it!

April 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKim Green

Great article, however I do believe in giving some Christmas gifts -but not breaking the bank over it. We are giving and teaching about Jesus when we give to each other as well -not to mention, if that's a childs love language I think it's almost necessary to give them SOMETHING (even if it costs $5 and was homemade!). As far as an allowance, I see where you are coming from, however I feel like this is a way to teach them to tithe, save and spend. If I just randomly give them gifts or money as a gift, they don't have to tithe or save out of that.... so I see it as a teaching lesson :)

April 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJenni

While I agree with the overall principals, I don't think every rule applies to every family. My boys get the latest basketball shoe as long as we can afford it because boys just don't want as many other things as girls do. ;) It's not fun for me--because like most women--I prefer to buy less expensive items but more of them lol. Also boys are hard on their clothes and the thrifting options just aren't the same for them. Also when your kid is 6'5 and wears a size 13 you can't always get cheap items on sale. ;)

April 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMomofboys

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