Is Spoiling Children Wrong?

Over the last few weeks we have looked at a number of interlinked issues related to raising children well. These included a mini-series on helping children’s self-esteem through meeting their intimacy needs, what to do about bullying, and teaching children empathy. In today’s #ThursdayThoughts post we look at how spoiling a child can affect them, and those around them. As always, Owen’s thoughts are from his book for fathers called “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants.” Let us know what you think.


There’s a book I was reading recently about a woman who fed raccoons bread every day. One day she didn’t have bread for them, but they didn’t understand and all her explanations to them weren’t going to make them go away. The raccoons attacked her! And this was the woman who was feeding them every day! This is just like spoiled children. If you keep on giving and giving and giving, they won’t act any differently than a wild raccoon. If you don’t eventually give them what they want, the child will get mad at you. The woman who fed the raccoons had to move house and stay away for ages, because any time she went back, she was attacked by the raccoons. Don’t expect wild animals, no matter how cute, not to behave like wild animals.

spoilt raccoon

Our children, no matter how cute, won’t have the information naturally that they need to process different situations. We are a little bit above wild animals, though, so children can be taught the proper boundaries. Our children can see, hear and understand both our facial expressions and our verbal expressions, and they know that when we give them an instruction, it’s for their own benefit and that this helps them put the new information into their library.


The Biblical statement “Show your children the way they should go” illustrates the importance of being a model to your children. They’re looking at you so it’s up to you to show them the way they should go. If you go to church and don’t force them, but invite them along, they’ll want to go. You’ll find that children, if not forced, will want to share in your experiences. You can applaud them if they pursue it – that’s fine – but showing them is the best thing. Always remember that you are the parent and that YOU are in charge and not them. There are times they will not want to do what you want to do, but say “I appreciate that you don’t want to do what we want to do, but I am responsible for you and I’m in charge, so into the car you go.” The child will have a tantrum and kick and scream and roar, but soon it’ll be all over. If you give into them and don’t do what you think everyone should do, then they feel they can say “no” to everything that you want them to do. You must understand that a child, in their normal defensive mechanism, will not want to do many things. They will therefore do something that they know you don’t like. The children have learned the words or actions they can do to make you give in, but don’t give in. Say to yourself, “I know they’re going to shout and scream and roar but I’m going to strap them into the back seat and take them along. I’ll patiently put up with the yelling and screaming. In the past, I might not have put up with it and I might have given in, but now I’m going to press on and not give in and do what’s right for all of us.”

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