Picture this: your son is throwing a tantrum in the middle of Toys R Us because he didn’t get the BMW Ride-On car he test-drove down the aisle. Your daughter is a mess at the diner because she didn’t get to have an ice cream sundae and chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast. Everything they play with is ‘mine, mine, mine’ whether they had it first or not. They NEVER share any of their toys, and always want MORE. Any of this sound familiar? These could be some tell-tale signs that you have a spoiled child.
If we as parents enable this behavior by giving in to their every demand (however outrageous they may be), and do not set any boundaries for them, our children will continue on this path and become spoiled. Spoiling your child may be an easy, quick fix for the situation at hand, but in the long run, it actually ends up hurting them. They have a hard time making friends and socializing with others, throw tantrums to get what they want, expect material possessions at the snap of their fingers, and don’t know the value of hard work or respect for others. Here are some ways to avoid spoiling your children:
1. Set Boundaries & Keep Them
Many parents aspire to be cool moms and dads or to be friends with their children because let’s face it, being the rule enforcer is not fun. However, children need boundaries, and it is difficult to set those boundaries if your child does not adequately see you as an authority figure.
To go along with this, some parents have a hard time saying ‘no’ to their kids. For some it is difficult to enforce the rules after a long day of work, and ‘no’ is the last thing they want to have to say over and over again during the hours they spend with their children. But setting boundaries means that ‘no’ is a word you need to say and that your child should know the meaning of. Enforce your rules consistently, so that your child understands that when you say ‘no,’ you mean it — they will thank you later.
Empty threats is another mistake a lot of parents make. Your child will see through your empty threats and not take you seriously. It may work the first or second time, but after a while, she knows you won’t follow through.
2. Responsibility & Respect For Others
A lack of respect for others can be a quick and obvious indicator that a child is spoiled. If you are afraid of how your child will behave in public because it goes beyond the occasional temper tantrum, you may need to reconsider how you are teaching your child to respect you and others. One critical way you can start teaching your child about respect is by keeping them from interrupting conversations between adults, and say please and thank you when asking for something.
Kids don’t usually interrupt conversations on purpose, but allowing them to cut you off is rude and doesn’t teach them proper ways of speaking with other people. This will only be effective if adults respect children’s conversations, too. Recently my son was saying something when another adult started talking to me as well. I held up my hand to the adult as if to say, “Hold on.” Then I kept my attention and responded to my son before finally turning to the adult. This way, my son feels respected and knows that the rule applies to everyone, even adults.
To go along with this, teaching your child responsibility is just as important. Giving your children age-appropriate chores can be a great way to let them learn about autonomy and responsibility. Simply having them help with cleanup after dinner or help make their bed can provide your child with a foundation for the responsibilities they will need to take on later in life.
Try to also remember that helping your children is very different from doing everything for them. Giving your child a chore to do and having them complete it on their own, or giving them homework help while allowing him or her to solve most problems alone can teach them independence and autonomy that will be critical for years to come.
3. Overcompensate With Gifts
We all want what’s best for our kids, but sometimes we think that means providing them with things and experiences we maybe didn’t have growing up, or buying them things just to make them happy. Perhaps you work long hours or spend limited time with your child because you are separated from your spouse. In these cases, feelings of guilt can make parenting very difficult. However, overcompensating with gifts and treats won’t buy your child’s happiness and toys should never be used to correct poor behavior. Using a new toy to end a temper tantrum may simply teach your child that there are rewards for poor behavior.
Now don’t get me wrong; It is perfectly fine to buy your child a treat or present, but first consider why you want to give it to them and whether or not you will be reinforcing poor behavior. To go along with that, giving kids everything they want now doesn’t teach them how to wait or save up for something, even if waiting can reap bigger rewards later (such as saving for a big-ticket item).
In addition, lavishing kids with gifts prevents them from expressing gratitude for what they already have. It’s pretty hard to cherish your one special stuffed animal when you have 30 others piled in your room.
Lastly, when we give in to every tantrum and save kids from frustration, we deny them the ability to soothe themselves. They don’t learn how to cope with difficulty or solve problems. Your child needs these moments to learn how to cope with disappointment. She needs to experience life’s ups and downs and understand that difficult emotions pass—and that she’s strong enough to get through them.
Using the earlier example of the kid who threw a tantrum at Toys R Us, let’s pretend the parent gave in to this child’s demand to buy the car. This child would not only think that he will then get whatever he wants if he carries on like a madman in the future, but he will also not be likely to cherish the other cars he had back at home, and it definitely does not help him appreciate the value of working hard or even waiting at all to get something. Instead of giving in at that moment of tantrum, the parent could have instead rationally said to that child, “This is not how we get what we want. Once you calm down, then perhaps we can talk about maybe saving up your money to buy this one day soon.”
4. Sharing Is Caring
Sharing can teach your child to value friendships and people, while not sharing can teach him or her to value objects instead. As a result, teaching children to share is a critical part of developing their abilities to interact socially with others for the rest of their lives. Sharing is caring, and it has important, long-lasting effects that you want your child to benefit from. Otherwise, they grow up feeling entitled and without the empathy for others needed to make friends.
One of the characteristics of a spoiled child is the inability to make genuine friends. A spoiled child who wants others to bend to her whims will have a difficult time developing friendships. A child needs to be able to understand what others might be feeling to develop a sense of empathy. Spoiled children tend to think only of themselves with little regard to others.
And finally, kids are also bound to tie joy to material goods, not to relationships and experiences. Giving too many items focuses on the item, rather than the intention behind it. Picture the grandparents who shower grandchildren with gifts and money so much that kids begin to look forward to the gifts, not spending time with their loved ones.
5. Leave The Kids at Home
Take some time away from your children to prevent them from potentially developing an unhealthy attachment to you. If you won’t allow anyone else to take care of your children, you may be keeping them from developing social skills that they would otherwise learn through these interactions. Some separation, if only for short periods, can help you maintain your sanity and teach your child to get along with people from different backgrounds.
Let’s face it, we’ve all done it. But we really shouldn’t. Establish your authority as a parent by requiring your kids to follow instructions without having to bribe. Let’s say you tell your child she’ll have a new toy if she cleans her room. This sets her up to expect unrelated and external rewards for doing regular tasks. Instead, encourage her to feel proud of a job well done.
An M&M may seem like a harmless thing to exchange for good behavior (or maybe just something other than bad behavior), but leveraging food as a reward may cause your child to overvalue junk food items or desire them over healthier options. These early food habits can have lasting effects on your child’s health, so instilling healthy ones is critical. Instead of using junk food as a reward, make them a relatively rare treat. However, if you have to bribe every once in awhile (because we get it, it usually works like a charm) use Dr Pops all-natural vitamin lollipops as the reward for good behavior. It’s a healthy option in the form of a treat for your child, a win-win for both parent and kid.