Can I Spoil My Child?

“Can I spoil my child?” said every parent at one point in their life. Raising a child is never that easy! When they are a toddler, they cry consistently for no apparent reason. When they are in kindergarten, they make unnecessary demands. When they are in their tween years, they try to test the boundaries and when they finally reach their teens, they have mood swings that can last for days or even months. The life of a parent is quite charming. Wouldn’t you agree?

According to a research published in the “Applied Development Science” journal by psychologist Darcia Narvaez, you cannot spoil a baby. This is the time when their motor skills haven’t yet started to develop and by cuddling with them more, you can shape their future by making them a happier person. In fact, this can also lead to them becoming independent when their first birthday rolls around. Following are some scenarios that will help you realize that you are spoiling your child:

The Crier – Giving Too Much Attention

The road to spoiling your child starts at a young age and by young, I mean when they are a toddler. By picking up your toddler every time he/she cries is the beginning. Even toddlers need some alone time or they will be forever dependent on you. Sounds unbelievable, right? If your toddler cries every time you put him/her down, it means that they have become accustomed to being picked up at every moment and will show their disappointment by wailing at the top of their lungs.

The Manipulator

Giving into Begging

Parents are too soft when it comes to their child. They may frown upon a parent who is giving a candy to their toddler when he/she is crying on the grocery store’s floor but they do not realize that they would do the same if the situation was reversed. The role of a parent entails: always be prepared for temper tantrums. However, there’s a trick to limiting these tantrums. Your child’s cute face might soften your heart but you need to stand firm on your decision. The first time you give into their demands, fearing that a ‘no’ will spoil their mood, you are giving them permission to take the same approach every time.

Giving into Material Things

When the baby reaches kindergarten age, the expectations increase. They see things that other children have and they want them too. The demand for material things increase day by day and giving into something that is unnecessary is a start to spoiling your kid. Scenarios like these include:

  • You bought your kid a new bag but he wants a batman bag that his friend has
  • Your daughter wants a cupcake for lunch at school because her friend’s mom gives her the ‘good’ stuff

There are two ways you can handle this kind of situation. First, you can start their allowance to help them understand how money must be managed and second, you can explain them the values that different households have. An important part here is to make them understand the value of things they have, as compared to the unnecessary things they are demanding.

Indulging Them on the Dining Table

As an adult, we try to avoid vegetables whenever we can. So, why is it hard to expect when children turn up their nose on vegetables? Indulging your child on the dining table is one of the biggest no-nos. This is the time for their mental development and a diet full of nutritious foods is very important. Giving them an ice cream scoop or cheerio’s once a week is all well and good but when you find yourself accommodating their requests every now and then, it might be time to set some rules.

Making Them Dependent on You

In toddlers, this can be seen when parents keep everything nearby, so that they don’t have to deal with disappointment or a cry fest. In pre-teens, this can be seen when they beg you to read a bed time story again and again, just so that you remain with them the entire night. Remember, this is not about you, this about disciplining your child by sticking to the rules. Just because you can’t handle your child’s unhappy face, does not mean you do everything for them. This will make them dependent that no matter what happens daddy and mommy will be there to save the day. Following are some points that will prevent you from falling into situations, where you are spoiling your child.

Being an Adult or Falling to Their Level to Help Them Understand

These are only some of the situations that show you are spoiling your child. The first step to raising a spoiled child is to settle ground rules and stick to the punishments. Once your child realizes that a certain act has certain consequences, they will think twice before doing it. Even if they demand for something that is unwarranted, instead of going straight to the punishment, ask them the reason behind their actions.

Talking to them like an adult is a good way to value their opinions. Turn their actions into questions like:

  • You already have this toy at home; wouldn’t it be nice if you got this on your birthday?
  • If you don’t eat your vegetables, you won’t get ice cream. Is that what you want?

Approach with Empathy

One of the biggest reasons that lead to defiance is when children try to test the boundaries by saying, “5 minutes more”. The five minutes’ turn into ten then an hour. Seeing your child so happy, you loathe being the bearer of disappointment, so you let them do whatever they want. That is where you are going wrong. If the rules do not apply in these situations, use empathy to communicate with them.

  • “I know you are having fun and it’s hard to leave but if we don’t then you won’t be able to wake up fresh tomorrow”
  • “I know you love chocolate and I love it too but if you eat too much, your teeth will fall off”

Appeal to their emotional side and tell them you understand. It will make them stop and think that perhaps you are right.

We all love to spoil our children but sometimes, we get so carried away that we do not realize we are setting a bad pattern. Whatever they did or are about to do is something that you can never know unless they confess or ask you. The latter might seem impossible but can happen if you keep an open communication channel. The more you communicate with them, the easy it will become for them to share their emotions.

© Teresa Boardman, Nanny Options 2017.

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