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How to Help Stop Kids From Being Selfish

author image Jennifer Byrne
Jennifer Byrne is a freelance writer and editor specializing in topics related to health care, fitness, science and more. She attended Rutgers University. Her writing has been published by,, Primary Care Optometry News, and EyeWorld Magazine. She was awarded the Gold Award from the American Society of Healthcare Publication Editors (ASHPE), 2007, and the Apex Award for Publication Excellence.
How to Help Stop Kids From Being Selfish
Teach your child to overcome selfishness with limits and rewards.

If you feel that your child is a bit on the selfish side, join the club -- according to author and educator Michele Borba at, recent surveys have found that most parents are concerned that their children are selfish. Children who flaunt a sense of entitlement and who lack consideration for the feelings of others can be difficult and, at times, unlikeable. But as a parent, it's important to remember that you play a role in reinforcing or halting selfish behavior.

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Step 1

Exert your rights as a parent and as a person. According to psychiatrist and author Robert Shaw, many parents feel that they must put their child's needs before their own at all times. Shaw emphasizes that this sets a bad example for your children and will make you resentful. Insist on your right to enjoy a peaceful dinner or a phone call with a friend.

Step 2

Set limits, make your expectations clear and stick to them. Don't waver under the pressure of guilt trips, whining or tantrums. Kids who are used to manipulating to get what they want may balk at this at first, but if you remain consistent and maintain the limits, your children will adjust.

Step 3

Pull the plug on extraneous media. Restrict your child's time watching TV, playing video or computer games and listening to MP3s or other devices. These tend to dull a child's senses and isolate him from the people around him and their emotions, according to Shaw.

Step 4

Reward selflessness. Teaching a child to be unselfish requires more than correcting bad behavior; it also entails positive reinforcement. When you see your child behaving in a thoughtful or compassionate manner, don't miss the chance to praise her for it. Be sure to describe to your child what was so considerate about the behavior and how good it made you or the other person feel. This will likely inspire her to act that way in the future.

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