8 Tips for Dealing with an Ungrateful Child

Let me be serious for a moment.

As a mom of two, I try to provide everything my kids need and want. I became a mother at the age of 18 and we struggled for years to make ends meet—so when I finally was able to afford things for my oldest, I overdid it. Whatever it he wanted, I provided it to him in order to make up for the things I was unable to purchase him when he was smaller.

But doing that came with a price.

My son is now 16 and is an ungrateful child. He has gotten out of the practice of saying please and thank you. He expects certain things instead of working towards a specific goal to obtain a reward. And I feel that I am not blameless in this—I created a monster of epic proportions and now it is biting me in the back.

It is easier said than done to say you would know what to do if you were in my shoes. But it is a lot more complex than that. When I don’t get something that he wants, I feel guilty. Again, something that is MY problem and not his. I need to lead by example and let him follow my lead. And I’ve learned it’s not too late for me to put my foot down.

I spoke to a family counselor recently, and she gave me these “Mom” rules that I have been told to follow if I want to change his behavior of ungratefulness.

  • Do not reward negative behavior
  • Say no and mean it and follow up with action, no matter how much I am worn down
  • Set goals and once it is achieved, give a reasonable reward
  • Do not show my frustration. Instead, speak calmly and rationally so that my son won’t mimic my behavior
  • Do not try to give everything my son wants. There must be a limit set
  • Realize it’s not too late to change this behavior
  • Remain positive even in un-positive situations
  • Do not try to buy love

Those are the guidelines my family counselor recently set forth me in accordance for my son. I wanted to share these goals with you because there may be someone else out there is going through the same exact thing that I am going through right now.

Dealing with an ungrateful child is not easy, but it’s also a two-way street. I will work to help repair this situation—before it is really too late.


Comments

  1. says

    These are some great tips. I have a 14 yr old boy – and we kinda fell in the same trap. I caught it early and realized that a lot of it had to do with me and my own insecurities of failure. I guess, not only did I want to give him everything, I also wanted to show the world that even though I had him young I still succeeded. Best of luck – stick to your guns and trust he will change. As for me, my son is doing really well both personally and academically, but I must remember, he’s still a teenager which = pain in the butt! Happy Holidays and happy I stumbled upon your blog!

    • says

      @Daphne, thank you for visiting for the first time and for commenting. I knew I couldn’t be the only mother going through this issue. I plan to follow the tips set forth by the counselor and hopefully they will improve things a bit.

  2. says

    Whoops! Submitted before I was done. I fell into the same boat as you. I had my daughter when I was 18 and have overcompensated by buying her things and have in the process also created an ungrateful child. I have been given the same rules and have a hard time sticking to them. I’m thankful that you posted these. I’m going to try again, my New Year’s resolution. :)
    JenÃ�´s last blog post ..Happy Mom’s Day

  3. says

    My take on this: If your child is of age to get a part-time job, tell him/her to do this if he/she wants the “finer things” in life. I did not have my son at a young age, but he’s an only child and I instilled in him early that he can’t have everything he wants because I’m not made of money. I let him know that if he wanted something he needed to work for it. Call me “old fashion,” but my parents did the same thing. This is how most of my friends with “ungrateful” kids are handling the situation. Kids need to learn AND appreciate the value of a dollar and what better way to do it than to let/make them work for what they want. We do/did it (worked for what we wanted), so why not instill this in them? It’s not too late! Once they get out into the world and need to fend for themselves, then they’ll understand that “money doesn’t grow on trees!”
    Vivica Shade�´s last blog post ..Avoid Common Design Mistakes

    • says

      Trust me, he’s been filling out applications & has been since this summer, so in terms of that, he hasn’t been able to find anything yet. In terms of purchasing items, I want him to be more grateful for what he has been blessed with. It’s a work in process. :)

  4. says

    You know I have that issue with my 9 year old. I too had a son @ 18 & he has autism( he’s 14) & because of the lack of “normalcy” in my house the 9 year old gets over like a fat rat. I began to not only have him earn money by doing chores or a good school report but I also have him use that money to buy certain things like video games. He has since learned to appreciate more of what he has since he is earning the money & paying for it.

    I hope I made sense, I feel as though I just rambled, lol

  5. says

    I did the same things for my now 11 year old because I felt guilty about him being raised in a single parent home. I stopped cold turkey! He knows/understands thst he must earn things snd I will say just plain NO to other things. I applaud you for striving to raise healthy kids & helping us by shsring great tips. Merry Christmas!

  6. Tara says

    I have a question…what do you do when it’s a family member (my mom) who spoils him ridiculously and doesn’t demand good behavior? I love my mother but I told her she is turning my son into a whiney brat. His behavior drastically changes when he goes to visit her and buys him EVERYTHING because that’s her first grandson (and until recently her only). He’s about to turn 5 so we do have time to change his behavior, but everytime we reset him her excessive buying and telling him he is her boss and letting him disobey her, just gets us right back where we started.

  7. Susan says

    One thing that seemed to help with my 3, (now adults with children) is if they wanted something with a higher price tag than I thought reasonable, they worked for the difference and handed over the cash at the register. They seemed to shop smarter, and sometimes change their minds over what was really needed when THEY put out the effort. This included school clothes. My youngest would work around the house doing extra things that helped me alot, and I would double what she earned for clothes. She was a great shopper with her hard earned funds.

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