Are You Spoiling Your Child?

Problem: I have a baby, a toddler and a 5- year-old. All I seem to hear lately are warnings from others, “Don’t keep picking her up, you’ll spoil her.” “If you buy her that, you’ll spoil her.” “He’s acting selfish.” Of course I don’t want to spoil my kids, so how can I avoid the whole spoiling issue as I raise my children?

Insight: Treating kids in “spoiled” ways essentially means indulging, pampering, catering to, pleasing them-exactly how babies need to be treated. So, don’t consider any other way of parenting your baby – just “spoil” away. And, know that your toddler can’t think outside himself (yet) so when he acts in demanding and self-centered ways, he’s not acting “spoiled,” he’s acting NORMAL for a toddler. The balance of setting limits, giving in (or accommodating) and distracting works best for toddlers. Five-year- olds need more limits, more explanations, and good role models.

Strategies: All kids occasionally act in selfish, “spoiled” ways-even at ages 5, 8, 10- and above-making demands without consideration for other people or circumstances. However, “spoiled” kids are the ones who remain almost totally self-centered and focused on their own desires, possessions, and activities. To avoid this, consider these Do’s and Dont”s:

Don’t listen to others who say you can spoil a baby. The truth is you can’t. And, picking up your baby – whether she’s crying or not- won’t spoil her. Rather, it will help her develop a sense of security that will make her less likely to cry in the long run, because babies whose cries bring a helpful response gain a secure feeling that teaches them to trust.

Do know that if you constantly overindulge your children (beyond the baby and toddler years), they will get used to getting their way and learn to feel entitled to do as they wish. This can also happen if you fail to set limits on negative behaviors or fail to follow through when your kids act inappropriately.

Don’t conclude that owning many toys and things will make your children spoiled; kids with lots of possessions can be loving and considerate.

Do understand that if you give without reinforcing good values, you’ll be contributing to your children learning to behave in socially unacceptable ways, expecting more and treating what they have with little meaning.

Don’t make a habit (although sometimes it’s okay) of buying stuff for your kids out of guilt- when you’re not giving the attention your kids need. And don’t rationalize continuous giving: “They’re only kids for a short time.” “Why not? We can afford it.”

Do realize that the danger in continually overindulging your kids is that they may grow up with difficulty handling and tolerating situations that don’t go their way.

Don’t get lax in setting limits on your kids’ negative ways. Limits will help them gradually learn that they can’t always get their way, and to think about others.

Do show casino online by example, how to graciously accept and offer kindness, and how to deal well with disappointment. Your kids will copy your actions-even more than your words.

Don’t neglect to teach your kids (even though this takes time) to appreciate what they have, to respect friends and each other, to act nice, and to consider those more needy than them.

Do know that if your kids grow up with basic and consistent values, they won’t act spoiled no matter how many possessions they have.

Don’t hesitate to look for deeper reasons for your 5-year-old acting in self-centered ways. Are you spending as much time as you should together? Are you available to hear about her needs, ideas, and worries?

Do gradually cut back on buying things if you believe you’re buying too much.

Don’t label your kids “spoiled.” They may act more selfish than you’d like, but they must certainly have good traits that may be overshadowed if you concentrate on one negative characteristic.

Bottom Line: How you treat your kids now, how you show what you value, how you respond to their wants and needs, will have an impact on them for life. You’ve heard my Do’s and Dont”s on spoiling, but most importantly, you truly can’t spoil your kids by indulging them in a lot of this stuff – reading together, learning together, sharing activities, taking walks, sitting on the floor playing, laughing, and simply enjoying each other. Even as your kids grow-indulging them with your love, listening to them and doing things together won’t – ever – spoil them. P.S. Grandparents are supposed to spoil kids, so don’t be hard on them if this is the case. What kids gain from being teated this way is positive, loving memories.

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