When a Child is Spoiled or Picky, Who is to Blame?

spoiled or picky

spoiled or pickyScenarios of spoiled or picky.

The husband looked at his wife as she tried to cajole their little one.

“You’re spoiling her,” he told her, quietly, but firmly.

Instantly, the mom had a reason for what she was doing: “The child was sick, after all, and she needed to take care of  her child”!

Her husband (and father of the same child) didn’t say any more, but the look on his face told me what he thought – that she was spoiling their child. I watched the subtle drama unfold, and I had to admit he was right.

We watched a woman who was raising her niece threaten a “whooping” to the child if she did this “one more time.” The spouse commented to those of us within earshot, “If this child ever gets a whooping, it’s going to be a good one, because she’s been “fixin’ to” give her one for a long, long time.”  It was funny, but it wasn’t – because it was true.

That’s how a child becomes spoiled or picky – because the adults in his life cave to his whims.

Defining spoiled or picky

One thing I know is true: when a child is spoiled or picky, he did not become that way by himself. He had help from someone – or more than one person. A child is not able to spoil himself, but he is certainly capable of demanding his wants.

A picky child is one who is “extremely fussy or finicky, usually over trifles.” When we allow a child to be fussy or picky, when we cater to how a child wants a food fixed or only serve what he wants to eat, we create a picky child. A picky child cannot become picky by himself. He has the help of adults to get there.

I overheard a mom tell a friend one day, “I just can’t get him to eat anything except chicken nuggets, French fries, and pizza.”  I wonder how many times those choices were not on the table? I wanted to suggest to her (but didn’t because I was merely eavesdropping) that this was her fault, and not the child’s.

The definition of “spoil” is: “to  harm the character of (someone, especially a child) by being too lenient or indulgent.”

When we are too lenient or too  indulgent, the child becomes spoiled. The child does not do the spoiling –  it’s the adults (or sometimes older, minor children) who get that credit. When we give in to the way a child wants things to be done, we create a picky child. It’s as simple as that.

Dissecting pickiness and spoiled-ness

I share these tips, not because we did it right, but because it’s easier to see how we should have parented once we are on the other side.  There were times I deliberately fixed foods my kids did not like because I was tired of the complaints at the supper table. I told my kids, “I’m a mother, not an octopus. I cannot fix food six different ways at each meal.” You can bet your bottom dollar that on his birthday, the child got to choose the menu fixed the way he liked it. The other 364 days of the year? Never happen!

Tips on spoiled and picky kids

Here are some ideas for your consideration to encourage you to avoid parenting that produces spoiled or picky kids.

  • Is it good character development to allow your child to have things always done only his way? When a child is insistent on having something done a certain way, decide whether his way is the only way and if it really is necessary to accommodate this “need” – or if doing so will make this child continue to be picky.
  • Is it good character development to cater to a child’s pickiness and whims? When a child is particular about foods – whether it’s the taste or how they are fixed, decide whether the way she wants it is a deal breaker. Decide if perhaps she needs to learn that there are other possible ways to eat certain foods or if she is capable of learning to eat a previously unknown food item. Be the parent, not a sibling or friend.
  • Is it good character development to allow a child to cajole us to give in because she pouts or pitches a fit? When a child pitches a fit or cries pitifully when she does not get her way, decide if her reason for wanting her way is reasonable or if her pouting is evidence of mere selfishness. She needs to learn that things in her life will not always go her way. You need to decide who is really in charge around here.
  • Is it good character development to let your child get away with “making you pay”, when he doesn’t get his way? When a child “makes you pay” for not giving in to to his whims, recognize that he has now become the “adult” and thus made you the “non-adult.” Is this what you want to be? Are you trying to be your child’s best friend instead of his parent?

When a child should be allowed to have things catered to his needs

Some children have allergies or irritations that they can’t explain. Forcing a child to do something that causes discomfort will not help you connect with him. If he is, however, being spunky and stubborn, then consider the “why” behind what he is demanding.

Pay attention to the places, things, and events that cause your child discomfort or turmoil. Is he always nauseous after eating a particular food? Does he get a headache after he’s been to certain places? Is she more emotional after being around certain people? Is he more irritable in certain settings?  All of these can be indicators of allergies to foods, pollens, perfumes, mold, or fabric. Sometimes certain people have threatened or harmed our kids. Pay attention to their complaints and keep track of events, times, places, and substances that could give clues to physical or emotional problems with your child.

Be the parent. Let your child be the child.

You can figure it out if you really want to do what is best for your child. Take the time to decode the stubbornness, pickiness, and spoiled-ness. Figure out the root problem. Figure out the cause. Ask God for wisdom. Develop a plan, and then map a way out of the jungle. That’s what good parenting does.

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Photo credit: LiveLaughLove/Pixabay.com

How Raising Kids Causes Division in Marriage


divisionFor starters, it’s a lot easier to see now than it was then – when we were raising our kids. There is hardly a mom in the world who doesn’t want to protect her child from struggle and trouble. Most moms want to make sure their kid feels loved and secure. 

When we feel that way, we lose sight of the bigger picture. We forget that teaching a toddler “No” when he’s two will make it easier for him to listen when he’s a teenager. We forget to think about then, because we want our child to feel safe and secure now.

The father of our child (children) usually sees how we are handling things. He has to choose if he wants his child to be spoiled and his spouse happy or if wants to brave the forbidden frontier of parenting differently than his spouse.

Seriously, moms, if we took the time to listen to our spouse, we’d learn some things. We’d learn that our child won’t die of starvation, if they can’t eat later, when they wouldn’t eat at suppertime. We’d learn that discipline and teaching consequences make a child happier in the end – and that it’s worth the frustration and feeling of failure to have a child who is taught and trained as he ought to be. We would have less division in our marriage.

A happy child is an unspoiled child. Even a toddler knows when he always gets his way, and that makes him unhappy. You want your child to be truly happy? Don’t spoil him.

A secure child knows where the boundaries are. She knows what will happen if she goes beyond the boundaries. You want your child to be secure? Have boundaries and don’t move them for her wails or temper tantrums.

divisionA happy and secure child knows he can’t pit his parents against each other. You want your child to be happy and secure? Don’t take his side over that of your spouse’s. Don’t allow your diagreement to cause a division.

Friends of ours disagreed over the discipline of their child. Once I saw the father reach out to correct the child (when she needed it) and the mother put her hand out to stop him. Mom kept saying, “I’m fixing to whoop* you if you do that one more time . . . ”  The kid kept doing that one more time, but mom never gave the whooping.

Finally, her husband said to those within hearing, “If she ever whoops this kid, it’s going to be a good one because she’s been fixin’ to do it for a long, long time!” It was funny, but it wasn’t. Dad knew what the child needed, but mom kept getting in the way. The division continues today. Small wonder that the now-teenager continues to struggle with authority (in the home and in school – pretty much everywhere) today.

Neither parent is a pro on raising kiddos. Both will make mistakes. That’s why it’s important that we listen to each other; this will cause less division.

A father sees things a mom can’t – he sees the bigger picture and the end results down the road. A mom feels things dad doesn’t – she feels the angst of her child in the moment and more quickly notices a broken spirit. Raising children is hard enough when we agree. Put disagreement in the mix and it makes it harder. Not only that, our marriages suffer. We find ourselves with division and our kids caught between us.

Our children need the balance we bring as parents. Our kids need toughness as well as tenderness. They need steel and they need velvet. If we deny them either, our children will be insecure, selfish, and needy. Our children will see a marriage with division and discord.

When we give them a balance of both, we will have kids who are secure, generous, and happy. Our kids will experience a marriage that is healthy as well as happy. Not perfect, mind you – but whole.

One of the greatest disservices we can do to our kids as parents is to allow them to pit us against each other. Moms and dads, stay on the same team! Don’t let your disagreements over raising your kids destroy your marriage. Don’t allow your team to be divided. Your home, your kids, and your marriage will be healthier and happier, guaranteed!



  • “whoop” is a southern term for “smack, spank, whack” or whatever other term you want to use for giving a kid a smack or firm pat on his butt. A whooping is a spanking. It’s not a beating and it’s not abuse.