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DD is getting spoilt and I don't know what to do

(20 Posts)
lonerdottierebel Thu 10-Dec-20 11:21:21

I was going to post this under the Christmas topic, similarly the Single Child topic, but it goes beyond that, so I'm posting here instead. Disclaimer: this is a longggg post, but I had to get all of this off my chest and try and find a resolution. Thank you in advance if you read all of this and respond.

DD is 8yo and she is a single child. As such, I have always done my best not to spoil her. Don't get me wrong, I treat her, and do my best to give her as joyful a childhood as possible, but I try to have restraint when needed so she never becomes a spoilt child. I have witnessed truly spoilt children both as a child, and now as an adult with other children DD knows, and it really concerns me the way they behave as a result.

As a child of separated parents, and with my ex having a partner too (who comes with their own side of the family), DD essentially has three sides to her family. This means she gets 'treats' left, right and centre, constantly, and it's honestly getting emotionally exhausting trying to keep a track of it and prevent it from getting out of hand (which it now has). This is exacerbated at this time of year of course, but twice as much given DD's birthday is just a few weeks before Christmas. My side of the family is also very big in terms of aunties, great aunties, great grandparents, etc, who are all very, very, very generous.

This year, due to the lockdowns and relatives missing DD, the treats over the course of the year increased considerably. To the point that she pretty much had something new waiting for her when she came to mine at the end of every week from someone or other. And that's just from my family - god knows how much she has been getting from her mum's and partner's sides of the family on top. It's got to the point where receiving a gift has just become commonplace for her and she has become very complacent (understandably - I don't blame her - I would too if I received so much stuff all the time).

I was sorting through DD's toys last night, trying to make room for the birthday presents she just received, and as always when I do this (which is too frequently out of necessity), I found myself getting really worked up. There was just toy after toy, colouring book after colouring book, which have barely been played with. Stuff that has been lovingly picked out by me, or others, which DD has received excitedly, but has then quickly been discarded - like really NICE toys.

For years now it has been to the point where other than Christmas and birthdays, I have been unable to treat my daughter myself with a toy, book, DVD, or other object (I treat her in other ways of course), because I am being beaten to it in that sense by relatives. It's also at the point this year where I didn't have a clue what to get her for her birthday or Christmas. Relatives asked for ideas and I didn't know what to tell them. She has literally everything and it's become a bit sickening to witness. There is nothing I could get her that she already has. At the same time, I want her to have stuff to open and play with on the big day, as all children want that, so I don't want to resort to gift cards, etc. In the end I have had to buy stuff directly from her Christmas list (I used to be able to buy some random stuff too to make it more of a surprise for her), and essentially what I have, and what everyone else has got her are just different versions of the same kinds of stuff she already has - there's no way around that. Even stuff like stationary, arts and crafts stuff...you name it she's got it already...by the bucket load. People will literally come down and give her a colouring book with a new set of pens, and then a couple of weeks later bring her another colouring book with another set of pens. How many pens do you think she needs?

Re: Christmas. I got her a Call Me Chloe doll which she really wants (at least she seems to). I have however, woken up this morning wondering if I should try and sell it and get something else. I have gone for the 'big' item on her list before, and it's been discarded pretty quick. I'm wondering if I should go for something smaller instead. Trouble is, selling that doll is going to be hard, and if I can't do that, I won't be able to afford something else for her. The fun really has been sucked out of gift buying this year. It's more like a puzzle trying to select the right gift than anything else, it's just stressful, and depressing knowing the inevitability of what you've bought getting a few plays and then being left in the toybox and forgotten about.

It's got to the point where I am just getting so stressed trying to find the space for all this new stuff all the time and I am pressed to throw out stuff that DD hasn't even used to make room as it seems silly on the one hand, but also I'd feel guilty as all this stuff is still 'new to DD in a sense, and it would feel like chucking out something she just received (even if she got it two years ago). I literally can't get in my storage cupboards for all of the stuff DD has in there spilling out every time I open the doors. Most of it hasn't been used.

I am also getting very concerned as to what this could be doing to DD's mental state. My ex doesn't have the best set of genes shall we say, and raising DD is a daily challenge to bring her up in a way in which she doesn't take on my ex's negative traits. The last thing I need is her 'becoming spoilt' added to the list. I really don't want her growing up feeling entitled like my ex.

I addressed the situation with my mum (via fb message - you can't talk about anything serious like this with her in person - as she avoids the subject or blanks you), but it was ignored and a week later she came down with more treats which she claimed she couldn't stop her partner from buying (he goes well over the top and ignores anyone's requests in general - just does what he wants - very rude and disrespectful in that regard). I was going to talk to my dad and his partner too but haven't had a good opportunity.

Has anyone else found themselves in this situation? How did you/didn't you combat it? Did you address your relatives or let it go? I feel like I've let it go for too long. I feel guilty about asking them to ease off the treats though, like I'd be spoiling their fun and just generally being a bit of a scrooge. Should I talk to DD? I've thought about talking to her about how her toys aren't being played with and how it's wasteful having them here when another child could be playing with them, but I'm worried about making her feel guilty, as ultimately, it's not her fault she is being so spoilt, and generally (apart from Saturdays) I have her after school, and understandably, like most kids, she's tired and just wants to chill out in front of the tv, not dive into her toybox. I also feel she comes here and is just so overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff she has, that she just doesn't know what to play with first and so she just goes for the same few dolls she always goes for or gets out a piece of paper and draws until bedtime. I have also tried in the past going through her toys with her, asking her if there's anything she didn't play with anymore that she would like to sell and she can then put the money in her piggy bank. This rarely works and she says she wants to keep everything, which tells me she does like the toys she has, but just doesn't have the time, energy or capacity to play with them all - I wouldn't either and I'm here every day! Any ideas on how I can address the situation in a polite way with my relatives and in an understanding, empathetic way with DD?

I appreciate this is a long message and there is a lot to address. If I could afford to talk to a professional about all this I would, so any insight, thoughts, guidance you can offer at all is hugely appreciated.

OP’s posts: |
Alexandernevermind Thu 10-Dec-20 11:35:51

Have you tried getting her to donate excess toys to somewhere like a children's home or refuge? This would help her appreciate the fact that she is extremely lucky. We donated a load of spare but still good coats to a refuge as a family, and were embarrassed at how many we had. Your local food bank could help with this. Perhaps you could have a "one in one out" system so that she does not get bogged down and overwhelmed by random "stuff", which used to happen to mine regularly.
Whether or not she becomes spoiled or entitled isn't always about people being over generous with possessions. (We have large families, and the amount of plastic, expensive, unplayed with crap in our children's cupboard was ridiculous.) We've always instilled a rule of contributing to the family by way of helping out, not to get anything material, just to give them a sense of "mum & dad work hard to provide us with whatever we want, so we contribute by helping out"

Danni91 Thu 10-Dec-20 11:45:25

You can try teach her to be humble and to appreicate her luck, and know its through chance shes lucky enough to having a loving family

Or

You can teach her kindness and maybe donate some to a refuge for parents and kids or your local charities (alot of this readily available this time or year they can even collect)

Or

You teach her to say with kindness 'thank you nan but ive got 4 of these so would it be ok if i gave this one to my friend? She has none and loves using mine!'

Or just save them and wrap them up for other kids in the family smaller things for school friends parties.

Sell them

If she has so much she won't notice things going it she doesn't ever use them.

Or tell your family shes into money now and see how quick the gifts stop😂

Good luck op, its a tricky one. Are you 50/50 with dad?

Aquamarine1029 Thu 10-Dec-20 11:55:47

The amount of things a child has is not what makes them spoilt. It's whether or not they are raised with humility and a sense of appreciation for what they have. You should also encourage your daughter to donate her unused toys, and explain how so many children aren't as fortunate as she is.

Bibidy Thu 10-Dec-20 12:15:56

Tbh as it sounds like she has SO much I would be squirrelling a few of the untouched ones away and donating them from time to time. She will never notice. I guess that doesn't solve the problem of her expectations of receiving so much though.

With such a big family I guess the deluge of a lot of gifts is inevitable, I don't know if this would work but could you let them know you have no more space and if they'd like they could send some money to put in a savings account for her instead?

Either that or ask that people buy her just ONE thing as a gift, no multiple bits and pieces.

Welcometonowhere Thu 10-Dec-20 12:19:28

I think there is a huge difference between a child who happens to own a lot of things and a child who is spoilt.

A spoilt child to me is rude, ungracious, surly, selfish and demanding.

I know many delightful children who happen to come from affluent and loving homes where they have lovely clothes, are warm, well fed and comfortable, have numerous toys, games and books, and lots of hobbies and things to do. But they are not spoilt children. They are polite, happy, appreciative children who are respectful to adults and their peers.

Which would you say your DD is?

helloxhristmas Thu 10-Dec-20 12:20:44

It's too much. We have started to ask for money towards 'experiences' instead, there's only so much kids can play with. It's not being grabby, these are people that want to spend money on my kids. We've done Longleat, Chessington, Harry Potter, Matilda in the WE when that was a thing etc. They get something small to open and then a great day out to look forward to. It's more tangible for younger kids than money in a savings account.

helloxhristmas Thu 10-Dec-20 12:22:47

h and you could get her into an expensive hobby (horse riding, I'm looking at you...), then the gifts go towards stuff that is actually needed or vouchers for lessons.

Floralnomad Thu 10-Dec-20 12:24:44

Welcometonowhere

I think there is a huge difference between a child who happens to own a lot of things and a child who is spoilt.

A spoilt child to me is rude, ungracious, surly, selfish and demanding.

I know many delightful children who happen to come from affluent and loving homes where they have lovely clothes, are warm, well fed and comfortable, have numerous toys, games and books, and lots of hobbies and things to do. But they are not spoilt children. They are polite, happy, appreciative children who are respectful to adults and their peers.

Which would you say your DD is?

This with bells on . Having loads doesn’t make someone spoiled , my dc had everything they could want , including a pony ( thanks to my mum 🤨) but they are both lovely adults now and neither are entitled in the slightest infact they are very difficult to buy for and both enjoy the giving gifts more than receiving .

Welcometonowhere Thu 10-Dec-20 12:29:31

I actually think it’s easy to make for a spoiled and resentful and petulant child by frequently reminding them of their ‘luck’ and lecturing them about it.

I recognise I am lucky in being born in a developed country. I am luckier still in other respects. But what am I supposed to do about it - feel guilt that others don’t? I won’t, because guilt is a very destructive emotion.

Thankfulness is not destructive so that is fine. Our children see us being kind: we ask them to choose something for the food bank when we go to the supermarket perhaps or we adopt an animal from the shelter instead of buying a pet.

My grandmother used to tut disapprovingly and exclaim how spoilt I was and it really made me feel awful. I was never spoilt: I was always so polite and thankful for presents and days out, but at the same time that world was my normal world. I couldn’t help that!

Dozer Thu 10-Dec-20 12:30:15

You could relatively easily set some boundaries for your extended family and stick to them. You could ask your ex and her DP to make changes with her and her DP’s family, which of course they may or may not do - you can’t control that.

YABU for seeking to ‘parent out’ characteristics / behaviours you think your DD displays that (in your view) are negative and come from her mother!

Trisolaris Thu 10-Dec-20 12:37:26

Agree with @Floralnomad and @Welcometonowhere. My mum was big on giving ‘stuff’ and so I grew up with loads of belongings and like your daughter I wouldn’t have wanted to give them up as I often just hadn’t got round to them. We were always taught to be appreciative and have manners though. As an adult I’m actually pretty minimalist as I’ve realised too much stuff doesn’t make me happy and I have years worth to donate/dispose of etc!

OrigamiPenguinArmy Thu 10-Dec-20 12:41:34

I don’t think your DD sounds like she’s behaving in a spoilt way. Also I can’t blame her for not wanting to get rid of her toys, I have clothes in my wardrobe I rarely wear but I wouldn’t be happy if someone was putting pressure on me to sell them. I’d hang back on making her part with things, because she’ll grow out of them soon enough anyway and if they’re barely played with you can still sell or donate them later.

Going forward why don’t you suggest the family put money towards something really big, like a Disneyland Paris trip (post covid obviously), rather than buying more stuff? You probably can’t (and shouldn’t) expect her dad not to buy her stuff, but the extended family are different.

Foobydoo Thu 10-Dec-20 12:47:12

Alexandernevermind

Have you tried getting her to donate excess toys to somewhere like a children's home or refuge? This would help her appreciate the fact that she is extremely lucky. We donated a load of spare but still good coats to a refuge as a family, and were embarrassed at how many we had. Your local food bank could help with this. Perhaps you could have a "one in one out" system so that she does not get bogged down and overwhelmed by random "stuff", which used to happen to mine regularly.
Whether or not she becomes spoiled or entitled isn't always about people being over generous with possessions. (We have large families, and the amount of plastic, expensive, unplayed with crap in our children's cupboard was ridiculous.) We've always instilled a rule of contributing to the family by way of helping out, not to get anything material, just to give them a sense of "mum & dad work hard to provide us with whatever we want, so we contribute by helping out"

I was just going to say this. There is no need for dd to have less but it is important for her to share her good fortune and to learn that others are not as fortunate through no fault of their own.

We have a relative who overdoes gifts and brings gifts constantly. It made the children less interested in them and more interested in what they are bringing, which I did point out to them but it made no difference. The children were much more appreciative of gifts from other people who seldom brought them and could visit without being badgered about what was in their bags. I am talking about young children here, I did teach them not to ask but our relative activity encouraged it so it was hard work.

PlantDoctor Thu 10-Dec-20 12:51:26

Even if she isn't spoilt by this, the problem needs to be addressed. It might be uncomfortable but you need to talk with your ex about the issue. It's not fair on your DD for everyone to be bombarding her with stuff - she's clearly overwhelmed by it all. I'm assuming the toys are your place are ones that are only from your side of the family, so you definitely need to be firmer with them too.

You ask for tips on how to address the situation politely with your family. I know it's difficult with covid, but could you get them all together on a call or something and maybe show them the mountains of stuff she has? (Not while DD is with you, as it's not her fault like you say). Hopefully having them all there will add a bit of peer pressure to stick to any agreement made to limit the amount of stuff coming in.

I don't think you need to sell her Christmas present, just address the other inflows of stuff.

Barmyfarmy Thu 10-Dec-20 13:12:10

As OPs have said, encourage her to donate gifts, explain to her that she is a very lucky girl who is so dearly loved but so many children go without. She'll likely become very generous has she has plenty to give, and this is a positive experience and will help her to not become 'spoilt' in a negative way. Don't look at all the gifts in a negative way, you're both very lucky to have such loving family. Turn it into a positive experience that teaches her how lucky she is and how she can help others with her privilege. Don't not give her gifts from you, just make sure she appreciates who the gifts came from and what it takes to give a gift (i.e. someone worked hard to get money to buy this)

PollyPocket245 Thu 10-Dec-20 13:52:26

I agree with lots of other comments, speak to her about donating things, this time of year charities are crying out for donations. Make her actively involved.
In terms of all the gifts, personally I would ask for money, open her a savings account (child isa that can’t be touched until she’s 18) and give people the details. Remind people that one day she’ll need a car or the deposit for a house.

KarenMarlow3 Thu 10-Dec-20 14:04:26

Another one here who doesn't equate having a lot of possessions with being spoilt.
The problem seems to be more a case of what to do with all the gifts.
Can you put some aside for her to give as party gifts? Or, as others have said, donate some of them.
My granddaughter is in the same position, but DD often has clear outs, and they decide between them what to get rid of. Maybe sell some of the more expensive gifts on the internet and put the money into a savings account for her?

Bibidy Thu 10-Dec-20 14:38:55

I get why people are saying OP's DD doesn't sound spoilt and that's probably true.

The issue more seems to be that she is getting so much that it's becoming difficult to give her something she really wants, and also I guess it's difficult to teach her the value of waiting for and appreciating the things she does want if she never really has to do that.

I can also imagine it's impacting her excitement towards Christmas and probably her birthday too when she's getting loads of toys and presents all year round.

I personally would work on the boundaries with my family, and say one gift max from anyone who wants to give her something. Obviously as a PP says, there isn't much you can do on her mum's side.

lonerdottierebel Sat 12-Dec-20 19:59:43

Thanks for all the responses and sorry for the late reply - there's been lots to chew over here, so I am going to read through again and figure out the best route forward.

Having posted here and hearing what everyone thinks, in hindsight, at least right now, I don't think DD is acting spoilt. There are often times where she is a little un-enthused by gifts, no doubt because they have become commonplace, which is something I will address with my parents after Christmas but she doesn't act spoilt as she is still always polite and is never ungrateful.

I have tried suggesting she sells or gives some of her things that she doesn't play with to charity, and sometimes she is happy to give up the odd toy or book, but for the most part she wants to cling on to it all. I am going to try a different approach with it though, and talk to her more about how it will be going to a child who might have as much as her, and the good deed she will be doing, etc, and try and encourage her to have more ownership over giving her things to someone else so she can feel proud and happy when she does.

Hopefully I can get constant flow of gifts to slow down a bit in the new year (no point in trying before xmas), but if I'm not heard by my parents, then I will just have fish out any stuff from dd's bedroom that has been left untouched every once in a while and try and relocate it - ebay, a friend, charity, etc.

I had started a one in, one out system with her cuddly toys which dd agreed to back along. Will have to start doing that with other things I think, and maybe let DD be involved in that decision.

OP’s posts: |

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