Every parent over-indulges at times during parenthood. However, sometimes a little over-indulgence can blossom into a big problem. If you have a spoiled teenager on your hands, you might feel compelled to engage in some strong behavior modification to adjust your adolescent's attitude and approach to life. Although fixing a selfish and spoiled attitude won't be easy, everyone will be happier once your teen learns to consider the needs of others as well as her own.
Commit to changing the over-indulgent attitude in your teen. Because this process will take time and effort, it's wise not to make any changes unless you are committed to seeing them through with your teen. Your teen will complain and resist the changes, so prepare yourself for struggles and challenges as you strive to change her attitude and behaviors.
Discuss the adjustments you are implementing with your teen to inform him of the new rules. For example, you might say, "Things have gotten out of balance in our family, and we feel like you are taking more than you're giving. We have decided that we want more balance, so we want you to begin considering others, giving to the family and compromising to work as a team." Help your teen understand the importance of a mutual, two-way relationship with others to ensure that everyone feels valued and satisfied, suggests psychologist Carl Pickhardt, with the Psychology Today website.
Institute the changes right away to show your teen that you mean what you say. Every time your child asks for something, stop yourself before responding or automatically giving to determine whether your teen has done something to deserve a reciprocal response from you. If your teen has performed chores, made efforts to give and help others and conducted herself with a cooperative spirit, you might respond to her request affirmatively. If your teen is demanding without performing in return, make your answer, "no."
Meet your child's resistance to these new limits with a calm and firm response, advises social worker Janet Lehman, with the Empowering Parents website. Your teen may become angry and frustrated as he tries to get you to give in, but refuse to engage in a battle and remove yourself from the environment to end the confrontation.
Encourage empathy in your teen to help her become more aware of how other people feel, suggests psychologist Michele Borba. Share your own feelings with your child to raise her awareness that other people struggle with frustrations, fears and uncertainties, too. Point out facial expressions on others to help your teen notice and cue in on other people's emotions. Name feelings when they surface in your teen or in others to increase awareness. Increasing empathy can help your teen learn to think of others more readily.
Notice acts of selflessness and kindness toward others when you see your adolescent make these choices. Provide positive feedback so your teen learns what behaviors you want. Praise often reinforces positive behaviors and encourages people to repeat behaviors.
Set a positive example of selflessness and outgoing concern toward others for your child to follow. Your example can be a powerful teaching tool.