There is a great cover article in the Sept/Oct. 2007 issue of Social Work today on The Highly Prized Child. It is well worth reading and can be read on line.
All children need to be prized, need to be loved, need to be cared for, but highly prized children have been treated in a way that is ultimately wounding to them. On the surface, highly prized children are self-absorbed, demanding, and indifferent to other people’s desires and needs. Underneath, however, these children are often depressed, unhappy, and lack self-confidence.
Interestingly I have seen more of these kids in my practice. I have had teenagers who refused to go to school unless their parents bought them a car saying that they are too old to ride the school bus. The demands didn't surprise me as much as the parent's serious question to me of whether I thought they should comply with the kid's demands. There seemed to be genuine concern, if not fear, that if they failed to comply with the kid's demand for a car the kid would quit school and the parent had no idea how to handle this situation.
The interesting thing is that these kids are in a huge amount of distress and nobody seems to quite understand what's wrong because they have everything and have been given everything.
In the old days these kids were called "spoiled brats" but that term is derrogatory and judgmental and is not an accurate description of the problem because this is not a moral failing of the child but a failure to have received appropriate parenting.
To access the article, click on the link below.