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Readers Respond: How Do You Handle Your Child's Selfish Behavior?

Responses: 2

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Children aren't perfect, and even the most considerate child will be selfish from time to time. How do you handle it when your preteen's selfish comments or actions erupt? What are your tips for dealing with selfish children?

Hypotheticals and Modeling

I do the same with my tween. We have a lot of long, Kodak-moment talks, and usually I'll just talk to him, find an example of someone else we both know (real or fictional) who acts that way so he can really think of how it feels to be on the receiving end. Then I'll point out how I treat him, and ask how he would feel if I (or his little brother) behaved the way he was acting. My son is really sensitive, and we've been doing this for a long time, so he generally "gets it" right away when we have these talks, and he often changes his behavior immediately. Sometimes there will be a "next time" (and even a "next time") where we'll have to talk about it again a bit, but he's very reasonable. If he isn't, I sometimes mention that I (or his brother) don't need to continue to "share" whatever it is we're sharing with him, and that usually does the trick.
—Guest Elizabeth

Have A Calm Talk With Your Child

I think the best way to handle a selfish remark or action is to sit down calmly with your child and ask them how they'd feel if someone said or did what they did. I wouldn't make the child feel guilty, but I would point out that they might inadvertently be hurting someone else's feelings. I also think one key to raising a generous child is to be generous to that child, and to be generous to others so your child can see how this makes you and others happy.
—Guest Lauren

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