Spoiled Rotten Brats? The Many Faces Of Overindulged Children

RADA | Spoiled Brats


Parents worry that their children will end up entitled and spoiled. Listen to stories about the many ways we overindulge kids and what to do differently. Tune in and discover all the things our kids need to have when they go out into the world so they grow up knowing how to take care of themselves, how to take responsibility for their happiness, and how to work, earn, and delay gratification.

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Spoiled Rotten Brats? The Many Faces Of Overindulged Children

I thought in this episode I would talk about over-indulged kids. The part of it I want to talk about is the many faces of how we over-indulge kids. A lot of parents are worried that we’re going to raise kids who are spoiled, rotten brats, who won’t be hungry or won’t be motivated. I thought I would talk about the portion about the different ways because sometimes when we think of overindulged, all we think about is things like giving our kids too many things. There are lots of ways that we’re overindulging kids.

I heard a story about a very successful businessman who had a meeting with his new son-in-law. He said, “I love my daughter and we want to welcome you into our family. To show you how much we’re welcoming you into the family and care about you, I’m making you a 50/50 partner in my business. All you have to do is go to the factory every day and learn the operations. We’ll start on Monday.”

The son-in-law interrupted his father and I said, “I want you to know that I hate factories. I can’t stand the noise. I couldn’t do that.” The dad said, “How about this? Show up to the office on Monday. I’ll take you there and you can be in charge of some of the operations there, perhaps.” The son-in-law looked at him and said, “I don’t like office work either. I can’t stand being stuck behind a desk all day or being in a cubicle.”

The father-in-law is now exasperated. He said, “I made you a half-owner of a very successful money-making business, but you don’t like factories and you don’t want to work in the office. What am I going to do with you?” “Easy,” said the young man, “Buy me out.” That’s an example of an entitled, overindulged young man. Let’s talk about some of the ways that we do that and some of the ways that we might be parenting our kids so that they may end up becoming entitled overindulged young people.

One of them is not allowing our kids to learn the process of delaying gratification. We don’t want our kids to suffer, unhappy, or frustrated. A lot of times, we give them what they want now because if we don’t, they start squawking. We don’t want to hear our kids squawking or being unhappy, so they don’t learn how to delay gratification. That’s a huge mistake.

When we don’t allow our kids to learn the process of delaying gratification, they may end up becoming entitled overindulged young people. Share on X

We also overindulge kids by becoming their entertainment directors. When our kids are bored, they come to us. They say, “I’m bored.” What do we do? We jump in there and say, “What about this? What about that?” We start to create things for them. I heard a story about a young man. He was sitting with his sister. He was eleven years old and he spent the whole day on a Saturday inside playing video games.

The older sister went and kept trying to give him to go outside, play, and do some stuff. She finally said, “Someday, you’re going to be 30 years old, single, and living in mom and dad’s basement playing video games all day.” The boy’s response, “A boy can dream, can’t he?” That also is a sign of an overindulged kid, I believe.

We need to allow our kids to have some downtime where they can start to do some things on their own and start to entertain themselves. I know in the last couple of years of our summer camp, we allowed a lot of downtime because we know how we feel. Kids are over-scheduled during their regular lives. There’s a thing in one of the camps we use. It’s called a Gaga Pit. It’s this wooden structure. It has eight sides, an octagon. You’re supposed to get inside there with a ball and hit the ball with your hands. We thought that was boring.

We challenged our kids to make up a different game. They created a game called Snake Pit. Snake Pit has eight people around this gaga pit octagon. Each of us was in front of one side and we put our water bottle on top of the board in front of us. One person at the beginning, who is the king or queen, has a frisbee. They try and knock our water bottles off by throwing the frisbee. If they knock it and it hits the ground, then that person’s out. If they knock it and it falls off but you catch it before it hits the ground, then you can stay in.

What’s interesting is the kids love it. They come back. They’re lined up to play and we keep changing the rules. Not us but the kids. What I’ve learned at camp over the last years is if you give kids downtime, they’re no different than we were when we were kids. We make stuff up, create things, and initiate. They just need the opportunity. I stepped down as the entertainment director and allowed kids to handle their own boredom.

RADA | Spoiled Brats
Spoiled Brats: If you give kids downtime, they’re no different than we were when we were kids. We make stuff up, create things, and initiate. They just need the opportunity.


I also think kids are very addicted to high-intensity experiences, things like video games, YouTube, and all the social media things. All those things are right at their fingertips always available. They become dependent upon those things for their entertainment. If they don’t get them, they start to complain and whine. One way to overindulge is sometimes too many of those experiences. They don’t know how to have low-key, old-school, go outside and play kind of fun. They need the high-intensity, addictive stuff.

A way we’re overindulging kids is with praise, rewards, and external motivators. There is an old story people talk about a lot. In earnest back in the ‘90s with the Self-Esteem Movement, parents wanted to tell their kids how great they were. I do think because of all the externals that kids get nowadays, they do become dependent upon other people for their sense of, “Am I okay? Did I do a good job? Am I doing the right thing?”

They look outside themselves way too much for direction and for, “Am I okay?” That’s one big cause of being overindulged in that way. There’s an obvious way of overindulging kids by giving them too much stuff. Be it toys, gadgets, electronics, or clothes. When they want something, they complain and whine, and to shut them up, we just give it to them. They don’t learn to delay gratification. They don’t learn to earn it. They just get it because they want it, which is why you can go into their bedrooms or their playrooms and you will see mounds of toys they haven’t touched for a year.

Think about that. They have playrooms. Anybody who’s my age or even within my generation did not have a playroom. Our playroom was outside. Get outside, go outside in the yard, go out in the woods, or go out in the street. That was our playroom. I’m not saying it’s wrong to have a playroom. I’m saying there’s so much stuff and they get bored a lot of times because they get overwhelmed with all the things.

When our kids were young, I remember recycling things. We would take things periodically, put them in boxes, and hide them in the basement. They never missed them. Periodically, we would pull some things out and replace them with some other things they had in the past. They’re like, “It was like Christmas all over again.” A lot of kids now have too much stuff.

Another way of overindulging kids now is by solving their problems for them and doing for them. We speak for them and advocate for them. We don’t give them opportunities to fight through things and to take care of their own problems. It can be something as simple as wearing my soccer shoes to having a problem with your coach or a teacher.

We overindulge our kids when we solve their problems for them, speak for them, and advocate for them. We don’t give them opportunities to fight through things and to take care of their own problems. Share on X

A lot of times, we jump in and we fix. We don’t want our kids to get frustrated, fail, or make mistakes, so we do a lot of rescuing and fixing. A lot of our children are not learning how to handle the normal ups and downs of life because every time they start to falter and start to go down a little bit, we rush in and overindulge by doing it for them and rescuing them.

I had a great story from a dad. His son was about fifteen years old. He came to his dad and said, “Dad, there’s this trip to Washington, DC. It’s going to cost $2,500. Will you pay for it?” His dad in the past would have given it to him, but he decided that he was going to take a stand. He said, “I want you to take this trip. It sounds great. I’m willing to pay for half. I’m willing to put up $1,250, but you’re going to need to come up with the other half.”

His son complained for a few minutes. His dad said, “If you want to go, it’s up to you. You have to come up with half.” His son thought about it. He said, “How much do you pay those guys who cut the grass every week?” His dad said, “I pay him $50.” The son said, “If I cut the grass, will you pay me $50?” The dad said, “Yes, as long as you do it as well as they do.” His son said, “Great, I’ll do it.” His dad said, “When you’re done the first time, call me at work. I’ll come home right away. I want to make sure you know how to do it the right way.”

Sure enough, the son did cut the grass, called his dad, and his dad rushed home. He found that his son had missed 2 or 3 big spots in the yard. His dad pointed those out. He said, “I’m going to give you a free pass this time, but from now on, if you miss spots like that, it’ll be $10 off for each of your $50. I want you to do it right.” The son got the message.

For the rest of the summer, he cut the grass every week. When it came time, the day before the trip, the son was online doing some last-minute checking, and he realized that he was missing $100 tax. He came to his dad and said, “Dad, I’m leaving tomorrow, but I didn’t realize there was this $100 tax. Can you pay it?” His dad said, “What was our deal?” The son said, “I was going to pay for half.” His dad said, “I’m sticking to the deal.” The son complained and he said, “I’m sorry, a deal’s a deal.”

His son said, “Can I cut the grass?” His dad said, “Sure, it’s getting dark outside.” His son rushed outside, and in the dusk and in the dark, he cut the grass. His dad said, “I was looking out the window. I felt so bad like I was being so mean.” He walked outside at one point with a big mag light to help his son, so he could at least see what he was cutting, but his son finished the grass. He got his $50 and he went on the trip. He had a blast, I’m sure, because he earned it.

I’m wondering where along that storyline you may have jumped in and rescued. It may have been at the start by handing over the check for $2,500. It may have been by not making your kids work for it to earn it. It may have been that last night when it was only $50. There are so many places where we can step back and let our kids solve their own problems and earn things. That’s a huge one for kids to not be overindulged. That is to have them earn things and to put some sweat equity into things. Give them some buy-in.

RADA | Spoiled Brats
Spoiled Brats: There are so many places where we can step back and let our kids solve their own problems and earn things. It’s important for kids to not be overindulged.


I heard about this one young man who came from a very affluent family. He walked in on his parents one day. He said, “Mom and Dad, we have this huge house. We go on these great vacations. How are we doing with the finances? I guess we’re doing well.” The parents looked at each other and looked at the son. They said, “Mom and I are doing pretty well. You, on the other hand, are broke.” That’s a nice attitude to have with our kids when it comes to that thing.

Another way to overindulge kids is with all the supervised activities and things that they do. No downtime. They want to be on the travel team and they whine because their friends are there, so we let them do that. All of a sudden, they want to go on a second team, on a third team, and all of a sudden, nobody’s home for dinner every night. People are running around to different places with 2 or 3 kids all over the place.

We have a hard time sometimes just saying no. Now, we’re not going to give in just because everybody else is playing three sports a season, or everybody else is trying to get on these club teams. Sometimes we give in too much in that way. Another place where we overindulge kids is we don’t have them work at home, doing things like cutting the grass or cleaning out the garage, just jobs around the house, be it chores or bigger ones, or even having jobs outside of the home.

I know a lot of parents in this day and age who tell their kids, “I don’t want you to have a job in high school,” or even college, because they say, “Your homework and your schoolwork are your job.” There are many kids who have never had a job. I bet all of you parents reading, by the time you were 12 or 15 years of age, probably almost all of you had jobs and are better off for it.

There are so many advantages to that. That could be an episode in and of itself. I heard about this kid one day who was in class and the teacher gave an assignment. The assignment was, “If I gave you $1 million, what would you do with it?” She had them write an essay. This one kid, after about ten seconds, walked up to the teacher and gave her a blank piece of paper. She was like, “What’s this? I asked you to write a paper about what you would do if you had $1 million.”

The kid looked at her and he said, “If I had $1 million, this is what I would do, nothing.” That’s an overindulged kid who’s probably never had to work or earn. In a couple of more places, we overindulged kids, and that is taking responsibility for their happiness. Too many parents have their own self-esteem rise and fall with their children’s failures and their accomplishments. If their kid’s doing well in school, scores a goal, is happy, or feels good, they feel like a great parent.

If their kid struggles or is frustrated, they feel like they’re a bad parent. They’re going to rush in and avoid the failure part. A lot of times, kids don’t end up learning how to take responsibility for their happiness. There are many parents I see in my counseling practice who talk in terms of we, like, “We have five hours of homework. We’re having problems with our friends.” It is we instead of saying they.

It’s not you and your kid. It’s your child’s life. It’s their schoolwork, frustrations, and problems, not yours. It’s not a we thing. That separation needs to come. Otherwise, we end up taking way too much responsibility for their happiness and kids don’t learn how to do it themselves. Two other quick places, number one, we don’t say no enough. My wife and I were working at a school with our Strong Girl, Strong World Program. We were dealing with the fifth grade class of girls.

Before the first time we went, the school counselor and the principal asked us if it’d be okay if one of the boys in the class could be in with the girl’s program. At the same time, we were working with the girls and there was another program going on for the guys. We said, “Why do you want to do that?” He said, “The boy is uncomfortable with the other guys in his class. He feels like he doesn’t have any friends there. He feels more comfortable with the girls.” They were distraught like it was a big deal.

I was thinking to myself, “What you say to that kid is no. This is a girl program, not a boy program. If you’re having a tough time with the guys in your class, that’s why we’re doing this. You’re going to be with those guys doing team-building things.” I noticed that the teachers had already gotten some phone calls from the parents and the parents were upset about it. They wanted their son to be with the girls and nobody wanted to just say no.

I’m encouraging you, there are times when you need to say, “I hear what you’re saying. I understand, and I’m not willing to give up on this one. The answer is no.” One last thing on the way we get overindulged kids, and some of you may not agree with this one. I notice a lot of young parents do not take breaks from their children. They go out to dinner with them on a Friday and Saturday night.

I’ve been on vacation with my wife to places like Hawaii and Mexico. Those are nice resort places and there are people there with 1-year-olds, 4-year-olds, and 6-year-olds. I’m thinking, “When do you ever take a vacation from your kids?” I know you love your kids. I want you to spend time with your kids, but you also need to spend time as a couple.

RADA | Spoiled Brats
Spoiled Brats: There is no question that you love your kids and that you need to spend time with them, but you also need to spend time as a couple.


I’ve seen a lot of couples over the years who, when their kids leave the home and they become empty nesters, the couple is lost. There’s no marriage. It’s all been about the kids and nothing has been about the couple. They feel estranged and distant. A lot of marriages fail at that point because of that reason. I want you to be able to take the time to go out on the weekends with just your spouse.

I want you to have time with your friends and for yourself. I want you to have vacations with your spouse. I heard about a parent who was talking to another parent. He said, “Has your son decided what he wants to do when he grows up?” One parent said, “He’s only six years old, but he’s already been telling me he wants to be a garbage man.” The other parent said, “That’s an unusual ambition to have at such a young age.”

The other parent said, “Not really. He thinks that garbage men work only on Tuesdays.” There are the beginning signs of overindulgence. One last quick story, I heard about this man who ordered a catalpa tree from a nursery. This guy always liked catalpa trees because they were big and fragrant. They had big white flowers. When the tree came in the mail, it was a three-foot flimsy tree. It had a little stick that was holding it up like a bamboo stick. Apparently, it wasn’t strong enough yet to hold itself up.

For the first year, this guy fed the tree and took care of it. He made sure it had the right amount of sunshine. Every once in a while, he would take away the stake to see if this tree was strong. Every time he did, the tree would start to bend over to the ground when the wind blew, so he quickly put the stake back in and put it back up. By the second year, the tree had not grown at all. It looked as weak as ever.

Even though he was watering it and fertilizing it, nothing had changed. The guy thought, “This must be a defective tree,” and so he thought, “I’m sick of playing with this thing.” He removed the stake thinking, “This thing is either going to live or die, but I’m not going to baby it anymore.” Within a month, that little catalpa tree stiffened up and began to grow.

By the end of the year, it didn’t even look like the same tree. It was strong, vibrant, and had been putting out new branches. It was thriving. Sometimes in our attempts to support and love our kids, we make the mistake of staking them too long. We see them struggling and assume there’s something wrong with them. Instead of allowing them to fight through, work through, and problem-solve, we stake them, rescue them, and fix them. It’s scary sometimes to pull out the stakes, step back, and let our kids do their lives. That’s the only way that they’re going to develop their own roots and their strength. Think about all these ways that we overindulge kids.

It’s scary to pull out the stakes, step back, and let our kids do their lives, but that’s the only way that they’re going to develop their own roots and strength. Share on X

If you’ve found yourself thinking to yourself, as you read this episode, “I do that one,” you’re supposed to sit down and make a plan about how you’re going to start turning more over to your kids so they end up becoming kids who are confident, have self-efficacy, and know how to take care of themselves and cope with the normal ups and downs of life because they’ve done it, so when they go off into the world at the age of eighteen or beyond, they know how to take care of themselves. They know how to take responsibility for their happiness. They know how to work, earn, and delay gratification.

Some parents feel like they’re bad parents if their kids struggle or are frustrated. They rush in and avoid the failure part. A lot of times, the kids don’t end up learning how to take responsibility for their happiness. Share on X

Those are all things all of our kids need to have when they go out into the world. If you enjoy these episodes, I always encourage you to share them. I appreciate that when you do. I’ll be back in a few weeks with another episode. Also, in the alternate weeks, there’s always a blog. Check out what we’re doing on our website at DrTimJordan.com. Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you take these episodes seriously because all of us want our kids to grow up to be healthy, strong, courageous, and have self-efficacy and grit. Not doing all these kinds of faces of overindulgence is the way to start. I’ll see you in the next episode.


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