The Selfish Child

I’m always sadden by peoples reaction to children they deem ungrateful or spoiled. It’s even worse when it comes from their own parents. I worked with a supervisor that was angry his daughter didn’t thank him for the amazing birthday gift he bought her. My question to him was why should she? This is a child that has never had to struggle or work for anything. She is only 12 and has been golfing at the county club, has an iPad, iPhone and goes to a very expensive private school. She has been taught to expect nice things. I asked him if she gives to charity, if she has had to do manual labor to earn a privilege, has she ever been told ‘NO’ when she wanted a luxury item. He shook his head and said, “I did this.” YES, YOU did. Children are born selfish. They have to be to survive. It has to be about their needs and wants because instinct dictates survival of the fittest. If they are not taught any different as they get older that selfishness becomes all they know.

To expect a child to figure out on their own what it is to be grateful for something is completely unreasonable. The pattern I see so often are these babies lavished with presents. The children couldn’t care less about the stuff; they just want and need their parent’s attention. But for parents, friends, and family members they show their love by buying every toy under the sun. At that age it’s socially acceptable for the child to have everything and want more because they cannot speak and they are just adorable. Then the child begins to take possession of the toys, they are theirs and they have a purpose of creating fun. The child then throws a fit when they don’t get what they want, crying and screaming. The frustrated and busy parent caves and buys it for them just to make the tantrum end thereby rewarding and encouraging the selfish behavior. What kind of teenager is going to be the result?

There was a video posted that showed a little boy opening a present. Inside was a cutting board. The little boy was polite and grateful to his mother for the very practical and inexpensive gift. Right after that he is given another present. Inside is an iPad his mother had spent several months saving up for. The child was surprised, began crying and thanked his mother again and again. The comments about the video ranged from, “What an amazing child” to “Children these days are so self-entitled. You would never see them this grateful for anything.” The reason it’s so rare to see a child so grateful is because we as a society are not teaching them to be. This is not an amazing child that is better than all the selfish ones. This is a child that has had to be without. This is a child that was taught manners and to appreciate what he is given.

Adults love to say, “Well, when I was younger I never had nice things, therefore, children should appreciate what they have.” Once again, my question is, why? It’s not their fault they were born into a time that is more advanced and those advances are available to them. Why should they care what you went through or what you suffered? That was your time this is theirs. This is their reality and you cannot in anyway take that away from them unless you don’t provide it to them. How can they be grateful for something they have never had to be without? They can’t. All we can do is teach them the fundamental values of giving, charity, humility, and gratefulness as it applies to today’s standards.

So when a child gets upset their iPhone isn’t the right color, or they didn’t get that car for their sweet 16, for as annoying as they are, try and see it from their point of view. And place the blame where it belongs.


  1. Lonely Little Acorn · December 8, 2014

    You have got this SO right! I’ve been trying to explain this to pretty much every adult I know and nobody seems to understand that children aren’t born knowing what adults know now. Character is developed by experiences NOT what somebody tells you. Thank you for speaking the truth about this. X


    • jinx0923 · December 8, 2014

      It’s like they forgot what it was like to be that age. They forgot what it felt like to be misunderstood and blamed for things they didn’t know. I really hate seeing it in my peers especially when I knew them as teenagers and they complained about the very things they are doing as parents. It’s a vicious cycle.


  2. youngandunsound · December 8, 2014

    Haha tell me about it. I’m barely an adult but I’ve seen this in my own family. My older sister is never thankful for anything (I’m being very serious. Never). One Christmas when I was about 10 or 11 I saved up my allowance to buy her a jewellery holder. She said “Wow way to get me the cheap stuff.” A few years ago I bought her a ring. She was so angry that the wrapped box was so small before she opened it that I considered just giving it to someone else. My parents bought her a car when she graduated high school. She didn’t even say thank you.

    My younger sister and I are much better at it than she is. It’s funny, though, because we were raised by the same parents in the same environment. But you’re right, a kid who is so used to getting what they want will never learn what it is to be grateful. My older sister was pampered by much of our dad’s family; she grew accustomed to it.


  3. claidig · December 22, 2014

    Had this conversation the other day. I have a friend who, as one of 4 fully-grown siblings, didn’t have the most lavish of upbringings. 10 years ago, a new brother was born, and presumably the life that couldn’t be given to the older 4 is now being given in tidal waves to the little guy in the form of electronics, with the money they still don’t really have: 4 consoles, Kindle Fire and I think a laptop is incoming, and the only thing he appears to have requested so far for Christmas? Hot Wheels. Because some other kid in his class has them.

    How can you teach a kid to be grateful when, at the same time, you’re teaching them how easy and insignificant expensive gifts are? He’s 10!


    • jinx0923 · December 22, 2014

      Exactly! I don’t know why others don’t see this as well. It seems obvious to me but I think we are in the minority.

      Liked by 1 person

      • claidig · December 22, 2014

        I can live with that, it’s a nice club to be in 🙂

        I just really feel for the guy. He’s a sweet kid, but the indulgence level is insane. I get why he’s indulged – he’s the baby of 6 adults – and maybe he’ll turn out fine, but they are creating the recipe for a nightmare. It’s the expectation – each gift will be bigger and grander, because that’s the pattern they’ve laid out.


      • jinx0923 · December 22, 2014

        Hopefully they will also instill some of those other traits like charity, humility etc. One can only hope.


      • claidig · December 22, 2014

        Well, if you ignore the material aspect, he’s a great wee thing. I just think they’re at a tipping point. Fingers crossed 🙂 Good post!

        Liked by 1 person

      • jinx0923 · December 22, 2014

        Thank you!


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