How to Parent Spoiled 4-Year-Olds


Trying to accommodate a preschooler's every whim could backfire when it comes to his behavior. Coddling, giving into and negotiating with a preschooler could create a child who wants everything his way -- and won't stop pestering, crying and fighting until he gets it. If you're concerned that your child is spoiled, respond when he's still young by altering your own behavior and parenting techniques.

  • Define what it means to you to be a "good parent." Children are going to be dissatisfied occasionally, but if your definition of being a good parent means your child is always happy, your accommodating behavior could resulting in spoiling. Instead, remind yourself that a good parent feeds, clothes and comforts a child, while preparing him for the real world, notes This includes occasionally experiencing disappointment, sadness, anger and similar emotions.

  • Promote your child's intrinsic motivation by ensuring that he's responsible for his actions and their outcome. Remind your child of how his actions have affected him when he acts out. If he complains that he was given a time-out at preschool, talk about why the teacher would have used that punishment and how to avoid it in the future.

  • Praise your child's effort and behavior, suggests the University of Alabama Parenting Assistance Line. Over-praising can lead to a demanding child who expects attention for even mundane tasks. Instead, focus on giving praise when your child accomplishes something new or puts forth a special effort, rather than praising factors he can't control, such as his looks or natural athletic ability.

  • Set age-appropriate rules and expectations for a 4-year-old. A preschooler should be tapering off when it comes to temper tantrums and acting out physically, but he still isn't capable of the behavior expectations of a 7-year-old, for example. Instead, rules should revolve around your child's age and capabilities to ensure that you're not setting the bar too high -- or too low.

  • Give your child choices, but don't leave room for negotiation. A spoiled child is often a master of negotiation, getting what he wants through whining, tantrums or trying to make deals. While it's OK to give your child a couple of choices to pick from, make it clear that you're in charge by stopping negotiations and referring your child back to the original choices.


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