Parenting experts on how to raise 'unspoilt' children, as Ayda Field Williams reveals her methods

Ayda Field, wearing an all-black outfit with a lace black dress and a leather jacket, attends The Inaugural Mothers' Ball presented by mothers2mothers at The V&A South Kensington on November 13, 2023
Ayda Field Williams says she has 'no interest in raising brats' when it comes to her and Robbie Williams' four children, despite their jet-setting lifestyle. (Getty Images)

Ayda Field Williams has revealed how she makes sure her and husband Robbie Williams’s four children do not become overly spoilt despite their lavish lifestyle.

The X Factor judge, 44, told The Times in a new interview that neither she nor Robbie are interested in “raising brats”.

When the family travels together, she said: “My kids fly economy whenever we fly. I turn left and they turn right. That’s terrible. I mean, people will think I’m such a d***... My kids will know that [economy] is where they will sit in a plane until they can pay to put themselves in a different part of the plane.”

While Ayda’s methods might not be totally relatable, the desire to raise considerate, well-mannered children is. However, it can be difficult to set boundaries and say “no” to children - every parent wants their child to get what they need and want so they can be happy.

But parenting in 2023 looks very different compared to, say, 30 years ago. New technology means children have more access to instant entertainment than ever before, and the rise of overconsumption means parents are encouraged to buy toys, treats and games for their kids almost constantly.

A 2016 study by Sainsbury’s Bank found that nearly half (48%) of parents feel “peer-pressured” to buy trendy items for their children, such as smartphones, new clothes, and expensive parties. Two years later, another study by musicMagpie found a similar pattern, with a third of parents admitting they would “go without” themselves in order to buy the latest technology for their kids.

Signs your child might be spoiled

According to Dr Amanda Gummer, child psychologist and founder of the Good Play Guide, there are several behaviours your child might display that could point towards this:

  • They may not appreciate or express gratitude for things they receive

  • They may expect to get what they want without understanding the effort involved or considering others’ feelings or needs

  • They may get easily upset or throw tantrums if they don’t get their way

‘Era of instant gratification’

A young girl appears to be screaming at her mother and is grabbing onto a shopping trolley that her mother is behind
It's not uncommon for kids to throw tantrums, but if they do so easily whenever they don't get their way, it may be a sign they are spoilt. (Getty Images)

Tim Allardyce, CEO of children’s activity app Hoop, tells Yahoo UK that growing up in these modern times occurs against a backdrop of “evolving parenting approaches, the influence of consumer culture, a shift in family dynamics, and altered societal norms”.

Highlighting the challenges posed by “an era of instant gratification”, Allardyce points to the way we watch TV now compared to previous generations as an example.

“There is a contrast between the anticipated weekly TV show episodes and today’s unending stream of digital content from platforms like Disney Plus, Netflix, TikTok, and YouTube,” he says. “This constant entertainment feed stimulates young minds but also feeds a dependency on the rush of dopamine, leading to an increased demand for immediate satisfaction.”

What to do if your child displays spoiled behaviour

If you are worried that your child might be spoiled, Dr Gummer recommends setting some clear boundaries that establishes rules and consequences for unacceptable behaviour.

You can also discourage poor behaviour by modelling good habits and manners. “Children copy what they see, so encourage thankfulness by modelling and praising grateful behaviour and help them understand others’ perspectives and feelings.”

Pretty little girl wearing and apron and getting ready to bake some cookies with her mom in the kitchen
Children copy their parents, so modelling good behaviour is essential to teach them the boundaries of what is acceptable and what isn't. (Getty Images)

Getting your kids involved in chores and responsibilities that are appropriate for their age can also help encourage experiences and meaningful connections over material possessions.

Allardyce adds that redirecting children’s attention towards physical activities and outdoor play can help refocus them from on-screen entertainment and things. “Encouraging participation in sports, music, and crafts can help mitigate the spoiling effects of technology and instant gratification, fostering a healthier, more balanced upbringing,” he says.

How to avoid spoiling a child

Dr Gummer’s top tips to help you avoid spoiling your child are:

Apply consistent boundaries

Teach respect and responsibility while allowing them to make age-appropriate choices and learn from their mistakes.

Show the value of hard work

Show them that there is value in putting in an effort to achieve their goals and praise them for doing so with intention.

Walk the walk

Model gratitude, empathy, and kindness.

Avoid overindulgence

Set realistic expectations about what they can have or achieve, and talk to them about money and social issues.

Communication is vital

Explain reasons behind decisions and set clear expectations.

Watch: Kate Lawler on being a new mum

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