12 Risks of Overindulging

1. Center of the universe syndrome: A child should understand early on that the world will not solely focus on them.

2. Disrespectful attitude: Having disrespect for one’s own things easily leads to disrespect for other people’s things.

3. Helplessness: Doing for children what they should be learning to do themselves takes away the opportunity for them to learn how to be competent.

4. Confusing wants and needs: Young children can’t tell the difference between wants and needs and have to be carefully taught.

5. Overblown sense of entitlement: Adults who were overindulged as children often feel that they are entitled to more of everything and that they deserve more than others.

6. Irresponsibility: Constantly protecting children from experiencing the consequences of their actions and not holding them accountable for completing tasks leads to irresponsibility.

7. Ungratefulness: Soft structure in the home can lead to individuals being less likely to be grateful for things and to others.

8. Poor self-control: Parents need to insist that the child learn self-management skills.

9. Relationship problems: Issues that result from overindulgence—such as poor conflict-resolution skills and expectation of immediate gratification—spill over into all other relationship forms, from friends, to family, to workplace.

10. Materialistic values and unhappiness: Children who were overindulged as children are more likely to develop materialistic values in adulthood (selfish and greedy) and grow up to be more unhappy.

11. Personal goals distortion: Studies show that the more an individual was overindulged as a child, the more likely it is that their personal life goals are externally motivated—fame, fortune, vanity—as opposed to internal aspirations such as developing character and cultivating meaningful relationships.

12. Spiritual involvement:  Overindulged children are more likely to become adults who are not interested in spiritual growth, have difficulties finding meaning in times of hardship, and are less apt to develop a personal relationship with a power greater than themselves.

© David J. Bredehoft, Jean Illsley Clarke & Connie Dawson 2004-2024;  bredehoft@csp.edu