Rich Child Syndrome: Does Your Child Have it?

Rich Child Syndrome: Does Your Child Have it?

Last update: 14 January, 2018

Today’s parents don’t have it easy. A lot of times the hardest thing is having to spend so much time working and less time with their children.

As a result, children may experience a vacuum that is sometimes compensated for incorrectly. From this arises the rich child syndrome.

This syndrome doesn’t only affect those who grow up in a wealthy family. It affects both rich and middle class children. The “rich child” is created by parenting characteristics, not socioeconomic class.

“Don’t teach your children to be rich, teach them to be happy so they know the value of things and not the price.”


Rich child syndrome describes a child who is spoiled. The result of raising a child in excess. So this syndrome is not a condition associated with social class, but rather how parents raise the child and what kind of relationship they have.

What is rich child syndrome?

The syndrome of the rich child is defined as the set of disorders that occur in a child when he has everything in excess. Perhaps “everything” is not quite the word… rather, they have “all” they ask.

In addition to getting what they want, children with this syndrome are also given things by their parents: privileges, access to additional educational experiences, etc.

The point is, the behavior of the parents matters. Whether they are overprotective or give their kids excessive material things, their actions have consequences on their child’s emotional development.

a bored little boy on a toy car

Ralph Minear, professor of pediatrics at Harvard University, proposes a series of questions to assess whether a child is being raised into the rich kid syndrome.

  • Do you often buy the child expensive gifts, even when it’s not a special occasion?
  • Are home expenses for the purpose of catering to the child’s whims?
  • Is the child allowed to watch more than two hours of television a day?
  • Is he or she enrolled in extracurricular activities without asking to be?
  • Do you reward the child with money or gifts when he or she does a good deed?
  • Does the child frequently complain of boredom? Do they not know how to entertain themselves, even in a room full of toys?

If any of these questions is answered with a “yes”, the child is likely to develop rich child syndrome. This is due, in most cases, to parents not having enough time to spend with their kids.

Parents compensate by giving their kids too much freedom, making rules more flexible, and giving toys, experiences and money whenever the child asks. They hope this will give them a “better life” or are preparing them to be “better” than others.

The cycle

Most of these parents do nothing but work to give their children a life full of comforts. They assume that’s what kids want: expensive things, few limitations, and lots of activities scheduled to pass the time.

They believe that the more “full” a human being is with things, the happier he is. By contrast, any unfulfilled desire, any emptiness, for them amounts to suffering and unhappiness.

rich child syndrome

These parents also want to put their children on the path to total success as soon as possible. They want to raise them to be above average. That’s why they sign them up for so many courses and extracurricular activities.

They don’t allow children to what they like or are good at for themselves, or to develop them naturally. These children access the adult world at a young age.

Pressure and disaffection

Today’s children are not so different than children of the past. In their hearts, they have the same needs as children 20 years ago. They want to play, laugh, interact with nature and animals.

Above all, they want to be loved. The presence of their parents gives them confidence and a sense of well-being that is irreplaceable.

Some parents don’t understand why their child can get so frustrated, upset and sick, or develop certain phobias. They have good intentions, but fail to see the difference between helping a child reach his potential and supporting him to please and push him.

a sad little girl

Pediatrician Ralph Minear has five tips for raising children. They’re worth some reflection.

  • When there’s too much freedom, the result can be moral disorientation and lack of discipline.
  • Too many material gifts are usually substituting for the company and genuine affection of the parents.
  • If there is too much pressure for them to excel, children often respond with stress and have difficulty determining their own goals.
  • Too much information can lead to confusion.
  • Too much protection prevents them from preparing for the challenges of life.

It’s important to understand that the healthy development of a child depends, to a large extent, on a balance between fulfilled wishes, and frustrations. Between the conquests of personal freedoms and imposed limits.

A good upbringing is based on genuine love, capable of teaching a child to appreciate things and experiences.


This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.