What makes a brat of a kid a brat? What makes a spoilt kid spoilt?

I have thought about this and spoken a lot about it through the years. The older generation tends to think that you will spoil your child by holding your baby for too long, for picking them up when they cry too soon.

On this point I completely disagree, You cannot spoil a child with too much love. But this is where parents of today get confused, I believe.

Parents spoil their children under the guise of love.

What you and I may think a spoilt child is may differ.

So my take on a spoilt child is; a child who has no set limits or boundaries, who shows no respect for anyone other than themselves. They will flout all authority because they have never been taught to respect it. They eat what they want, go to bed when they want, go to school when they want and talk terribly to all.

I will never claim to be the perfect parent, but I do reckon I have had enough experience to be an amateur professional?

Now I see this happen because a lot of parents feel guilt. They know if they tell their little one ‘NO’, that he/she will get upset, maybe cry, maybe throw a tantrum. But guess what? No is not a bad word, you teach your child their limits.

And children crave limits, discipline, boundaries.

Like the rest of us, they like to know their place in the world. And they are so very clever, far more than we ever give them credit for.

They will constantly ‘test’ to see if you are going to keep what you say as law, they look for the slightest weakness that you may falter and they will get their own way.

Ever notice how a child can be an absolute angel with certain people, but a total terror with others? It’s because the people who the kiddies are angels around, set limits, boundaries, have house rules – and stick to them!

Don’t get me wrong, it’s damn hard work, you can’t be lazy and be a good parent.

If you say NO, you have to mean it. So many kids know that when Mum or Dad says no, they are not going to do anything about it, so they just continue on with their bad behaviour.

If you threaten a time out if little one keeps up inappropriate behaviour, you have to actually get up off your butt and take them to time out. It is hard and it can be exhausting.

But again I say, ‘What kind of an adult are you creating?’ It may be easier at the time to give in, and allow the child what they want. But in the long run, all you teach them is that if they scream loud enough, they can do whatever they please.

And what sort of precedent do you think this sets? If your child knows that he/she doesn’t have to follow ‘home’ rules. How hard will that child then have to struggle when they go to school? Plenty of school rules to follow, but if junior is so used to ignoring rules, why will they all of a sudden begin to follow another set of rules?

And this all leads to the rules we as adults have to live by. The law.

Why would a child who has grown up not being made to follow any kind of rules in their life ever have any respect for the law?

Is this the kind of adult you wish to create? Do you really want the person, that sweet special little soul end up in prison? Cause that’s where they’ll end up, or in the worst possible scenarios that you would never wish them to be in?

You can love your children, but you have to love them enough to show them right from wrong, discipline them if they exhibit bad behaviour  (and I say behaviour, the child isn’t bad, just the behaviour).

Make it your house rule that they must eat healthy meals and snacks, junk food is a privilege, not a given. Give them a bed time and stick to it, little ones need between ten and twelve hours sleep. You make your life harder by letting them stay up. A tired child is a cranky, irritable, combative child.

Speak to them with respect, if you ask them to do something, always say please and thank you. Then you must expect the same from them. If they will not talk to you with respect, there has to be consequences.

Like I said, it is damn hard work, at times heart breaking.

Parenthood and guilt go hand in hand. It would be so much nicer to never see your little one in tears. But you had a child to parent them, not worship them.

This little one is your child, not your god. Have faith in yourself that you set limits out of love, you may feel bad. And believe me you will.

My youngest, number nine is a year old. It doesn’t get easier, your heart doesn’t harden. But remember that you do it for love, for their future, for them to be a healthy member of society. For them to be a welcome guest in anyone’s home.

You must do it because you love them so much.

You must do it because you are creating an adult.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com
  • I tend to agree with your points, cheers.


  • My kids are adults and I am happy to say they are happy, confident, loving, giving, loyal, empathetic, hard working, successful. All that and more. So I’m saying I have raised wonderful adults that I am more then proud of and happy to call them my kids


  • This is such a balanced article and so true I love the statement You must do it because you love them so much.You must do it because you are creating an adult. It pretty much sums it all up.


  • That is a really good question, and a fantastic article.


  • What an inspiring article. Thank you for writing what I thought I knew was right but always doubted myself (like most) thinking and wondering if I myself was doing the right or wrong by my children. Turns out I’m getting it half right cheers for the small offload lol


  • absolutely agree
    there is such a fine line between spoiling and loving
    wrapping in cotton wool and protecting
    you may think your actions or words are positive but they can be taken the wrong way by the child and reciprocated in the wrong way
    kids need to learn to fail and not be a sore loser
    kids need to learn they share the world with so many other people and mum or dad cant fix everything
    kids that dont learn will suffer in the future and as soon as they fail as adults they will crumble


  • Very wise words indeed. It does depend on your own values that you want to instill in your child. Absolutely agree about boundaries & limits.


  • I cringe at the thought of what type of adult I’m creating! I set boundaries and my children certainly get told No. more importantly I stick to those boundaries and follow through with the No’s. But it IS hard, and I’m sure it will only get harder. I am proud of myself for researching and trying hard and trying again and working on being the best mum I can be. I acknowledge I make mistakes and I can move on.


  • I have been toldby my niece I don’t spoil her as much as Grandma does. I spoil her according to her Mum, so I have to sus that one out. Have I gone wrong somewhere ? I don’t know. However I have found out that Grandma gives her icecream most nights. I give the kids yoghurt whenever they ask for it (unless it is meal time) or offer it as a snack. They get some biscuits at both places.


  • ve that you can’t be a good parent if your lazy totally agree


  • Great article, and you raise some very meaningful points! Self belief is a very large part of effective Parenting


  • Great article! and well explained point of view too


  • I am told my daughter is too aware of her feelings, i take this as a compliment.


  • I like to think we’re creating an honest, respectful adult. We’ve often been criticised for being too strict, but then we’re always applauded for the respectful and well behaved child we have!


  • that was a very interesting read!
    gave me a lot to think about


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