The Spoiled Child Syndrome

Were you an only child, or the first or last offspring who received a lot of attention from many family members? Or did you have a professional nanny to take care of you? Did you get everything you wanted whenever you wanted it? Do you believe that everything is coming to you and everyone should put their needs aside for you to be pleased?

If you are, you may be suffering from the spoiled child syndrome. As a Marriage, Family, Child Therapist for many years, I noticed that the clients who were spoiled had a very difficult time in their lives. They had inadequate people and coping skills. Unfortunately, without that being their intent, the parents did not prepare them for life.

Generally speaking, I found the men and women to be emotionally weak and lacking self confidence; especially if their parent or parents gave them all they needed and wanted even in their adult life. They were not taught to be considerate of others and did not understand what was wrong and how to fix the problem. They also often did not know how to manage their finances.

The scenario was something like this. When they went to school and had to deal with other people beyond their family, they had a rude awakening. It was strange to them that others would not cater to them. In fact, their self centered behavior caused them rejection and shook their self-esteem.

Of course it affected all of their relationships, including their romantic ones. They often tried to numb their resulting pain and loneliness with addictions-workaholic, overeating, gambling, drugs, tobacco, or alcohol.

An example is John, a 55 year-old ex-neighbor. When he was a child, he received everything he wanted. John’s mother was overly giving and his father was very busy most of the time achieving wealth for his family. The young boy’s nanny was instructed to please him and keep him happy.

Unfortunately, John suffered from the spoiled child syndrome. He never married and was always trying to “buy people” with his money. He also became an alcoholic, gambler and prescription drug addict.

The truth is that John felt very insecure and lacked the social skills necessary to create healthy friendships and relationships. He also did not know how to manage his money.

When his widowed mother died and left him a million dollars, John bought five houses, two cars and a motor home. He did not have a job or a way to bring in an income. However, he continued to try to attract friends by being overly generous. Ironically, his low self-esteem and poor social skills would then push them away. When John had to sell a home or car to have the money he needed to live, he then also gambled away his profits. The last I heard of the troubled man, he was homeless and living on the beach.

If you relate to the spoiled child syndrome, it is not too late to improve your life. The following are some helpful suggestions.

1. Realize that you are special and so is everyone.

2. Know that we are all equally important and deserve to be heard and considered.

3. Express what you would prefer (avoid demands) and ask the other person(s) what they would like.

4. Honor other people’s beliefs and desires.

5. Look to complement others.

6. Be generous with your time, energy and things.

7. Be considerate of others needs and wants.

8. Make sure that there are win-win solutions.

9. Take classes and/or read books on how to manage your finances.

10. Learn good communication skills.

11. Increase your self-esteem with books, classes, and/or counseling.

With these healthy goals in mind, you can overcome the spoiled child syndrome and experience joy and success.