Stop the Selfishness-Part 2

SO… where did we leave off last week? Let’s talk about how we can stop the selfishness.

Take Back Control…
A spoiled and selfish child knows how to get what they want. Did you know that a child will hound you approximately 9 times to get their way, or get what they want? Don’t give in. The more they get what they want, the less they will think about others. It is very easy for parents to loose control. Time to take it back. Setting boundaries and expectations are the best way to raise a selfless child, but it is easy in the moment to give in and set out on a course of destruction. A down fall for me is always in public. When one of our kids really wants something and is begging for it while we are grocery shopping or at the mall, I find myself giving in so they will be quiet. I can’t do that. I am sending an instant message that all my kids have to do is make a little scene and they will get what they want. Decide right now what you will not give in to. Explain the boundaries to your children and don’t budge. It will only take a few times and your kids will start to get the message.

Don’t Tolerate Selfishness…
This goes with the above suggestion. Be a dedicated parent. When your child demonstrates selfishness, immediately address the situation and take care of it. Explain and Discipline. Make your expectation VERY clear and then enforce them. When your child is selfish, point out that their behavior is not acceptable. Then use last week’s suggestion, “How would you feel if…”

Remember, you are the Parent…
Remember, you are in charge, you know what is best and you make the decisions. You don’t have to put all your needs aside for your children. Putting them on a pedestal teaches them that other people don’t matter and they are the center of the universe. If you are on a phone call, it is okay to ask your child to wait 2 minutes for their snack while you finish the conversation. (We are obviously talking within reason, not asking your child to wait for 30 minutes.) As a parent, it is okay for you to take 5 minutes to go to the bathroom, in peace. As a parent, you shouldn’t feel guilty when you say “no”. I learned this lesson the hard way when it came to food. I would give our kids all my food when they wanted it. I mean all of my food. Then one day, my husband stood up for me and our daughter said, “why can’t we eat it, we are more important than mom.” Yikes. In trying to be selfless, I had sent the wrong message. We naturally sacrifice for our children. Of course we do. But we are still the parent and dropping everything all the time for our kids can send them the wrong message.

Enlist everyone’s help…
Including grandparents and other friends and family. You can’t raise a selfless child alone. If your spouse or parents, or in-laws spoil your child, it won’t matter what you do at home. All your hard work will be for not. You have to get everyone on the same page. Talk to grandparents about the problem. Be kind and honest. Don’t focus on placing blame. Instead, explain how your kids are acting and what you are trying to change, then ask if they will help. Ask what they think they could do to support your intentions. By taking this approach you will avoid offending and come to a mutual agreement. It is okay to recall the latest tantrum or demanding situation. They will understand. They had kids once. They love their grandkids and don’t want to turn them into spoiled brats.

Don’t quit…
These are big changes. They wont happen over night. It will take time. There will be frustrations and struggles. When you want to give in, think about how important these principles are for your children’s future. It will help strengthen your resolve to stay committed. Eventually things will begin to turn around.

Set Your Family Up for Future Success

Teach your children to be patient. Kids who are selfish don’t take the time to think if they are inconveniencing others. They want things now, right now. Teach patience. It is okay for them to wait. We work through this all the time. Our son will be playing with something and our daughter will want it, NOW.  She doesn’t want to wait her turn. We have to work through “how would you feel if…” and help her understand that she has to wait her turn. If I give in to her, I send the wrong message.

Praise selfless behavior. When your kids do something considerate, acknowledge their behavior. Praise will get you a long way. Reiterate what they did that was kind and then point out how it made the other person feel. “Did you see how happy she was when you let her have a turn?” Kids naturally want attention. Give them attention for the good things they do.

Encourage your kids think about others. “Why don’t you let your sister have a turn, she has been waiting a long time?” “Your brother is really good at painting, why don’t we have him help us.” As parents we have to point out others needs and strengths. Kids need help to see them.

Provide opportunities for your children to give back. Research shows us that kids who help others are more helpful. More helpful means less selfish. We have to give our kids the opportunity to serve others. Small things work great. I try to always sit down with our kids to write thank you’s when someone does something nice for them. Even though our youngest can’t write, she can color, and we trace her hand. Our son takes in the trash can for our elderly neighbor. Whenever we make cookies the kids choose someone to take the extras to. When ever I drop off dinner to a family I always include our kids. When we drop the food off, we talk about the experience. Whenever we are at grandma and grandpa’s house we make sure to pick up our toys and put our dishes in the sink. Our kids help put the chairs away after church, and pick up trash when we see it on our walks around the neighborhood. These little, everyday acts teach children to think about others. If you can provide opportunities to serve in the community that will also make a huge impact on your kids. They will see the circumstances of others. It will teach empathy and compassion. It is hard to be selfish when you are being compassionate.

Be Consistent. Long lasting changes mean being consistent. Enforce the same expectations for all your children. Don’t play favorites. Being strong one day, but giving in the next will send the wrong message.  It is our actions and the actions of those around us that perpetuate the selfishness. Let’s start with us.



  1. 1

    Another excellent article. I’m a grandmother now and I’ll admit I have a tendency to spoil my grandkids. But I’m trying to change my ways after seeing some of the effects. I’m speaking for myself, but I think most grandparents would be pleased to have a real conversation about the problem and would enthusiastically sign up to help. We do have the benefit of the long view and can see over time how love, consistency and discipline go a long way into making a lovely and unselfish human being.

  2. 2

    This is really great advice. I have found that I put my son before MOST of my needs. I really need to get everyone on the same page and take some ME time. Thanks so much for the tips.

  3. 3

    I think we probably need to address this again with the grandparents. I think they do pretty well, but sometimes they have tendacies that when he asks for something to give him that immediate self satisfaction instead of trying to work for it, especially with food. Sometimes at grandparents house we have to just say no because they want to give it to them to excess.

  4. 4

    I think we all try to instill this by being consistent and providing opportunities for our little one to earn things that he may want and try very, very hard not to give in. I have to admit that it can be difficult at times. My hubby is much better at it than I am! Thank you for another great article. I appreciate the reminders on how to be a good parent.

  5. 5

    I think selfishness is one of the most unflattering characteristics we see. Honestly, my son started down this road when his sister passed and I indulged it for quite a while. In my feelings of grief and guilt (for not being there with him 100% as Olivia was dying), I did the best I could at that time. And yes, that included indulging him.

    I’m glad to say we’re on a different path now.


  1. […] Next time we will continue our discussion on selfishness and talk about how to transform a selfish […]

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