All of us know at least one family with at least one spoiled child that gets away with anything and everything. Raising children has changed a lot since the days when children were “meant to be seen and not heard” and “spare the rod and spoil the child” was the order of the day. In those days children were raised to respect their elders and were taught that there were consequences for bad behavior.
Over the past few decades the rights of children have been highlighted and today giving your child a spanking is highly frowned upon and could even land you in court for “abuse” although it may be far from it. In actual fact, according to Dr Phil, over-indulging your child is “one of the most insidious forms of child abuse.”
It is very easy to raise a spoiled child, whether you mean to or not; and whether you are affluent or not does not make a difference. There are affluent families that raise their children to be respectful, diligent, caring, responsible and compassionate, and there are those who raise what can only be termed as spoiled brats who only care about what they want. Conversely there are poor families who raise spoiled children and those who raise children who give their all for others and make a real contribution to the world in various ways.
Unfortunately, in the effort to be more understanding, kinder, more compassionate and gentler, some modern-day parents seem to have lost the plot. They have let their children get the upper hand and take control of the family by acceding to every demand the child has. Children need to be taught that whining will not always get them what they want, that throwing tantrums is a negative way of behaving, and they should not be rewarded for it. All young children act up and whine to get their way, and may even throw tantrums, and that is normal and acceptable; what is not acceptable is the parent consistently giving in to that type of behavior.
Am I Spoiling My Child?
It is often difficult for a parent to figure out whether they are parenting correctly or whether they are in actual fact creating a spoiled child by their parenting methods. All children have off days when they whine and moan and are just plain brats, and all parents have days when they are just too tired or too busy, and give in just to get some peace. This is not a train-smash; a train-smash is when the behavior on both sides becomes repetitive.
Sometimes the first sign a parent gets that they are raising a spoiled child is when somebody else tells them so. If you find yourself in this position, there is a quick test that you can do to determine whether your parenting is creating a spoiled brat or not:
1. Do you give in to tantrums, whining and bratty behavior more often than not?
2. Do you make arrangements for a sitter just so that you do not have to take your child with to the supermarket because you are scared they will cause a scene?
3. Do you allow your child to butt in when adults are talking and take over the conversation?
4. Are you constantly buying your child new toys, clothes or electronic equipment even though they have enough to open a shop themselves just to ward off tantrums?
5. Do you allow your child to speak to you or other adults in a disrespectful way or tone?
If you have answered yes to two or more of the above questions you may very well be raising a spoiled child.
As difficult as it may be to accept that you are spoiling your child, you need to face up to the facts and change you method of dealing with their negative and bratty behavior sooner rather sooner than later. Spoiling your child and constantly giving in to them is not doing the any favors, because once they get out into the big wide world they will soon find out that contrary to their beliefs up to then, they are not the center of the universe.
Why Is Spoiling My Child Wrong?
If you do not teach your child respect when they are young, you can forget about trying to teach them when they are older. If a youngster is not taught the meaning of the word “no” when they are young, you will stand no chance of telling them no later. By allowing your toddler to get away with bad behavior or disrespect you are setting yourself up for a really tough time when they become teenagers, as you will have no control over what they do or who they do it with.
Your job as a parent is to prepare your offspring for the world, to imbue them with the knowledge and tools to enable them to live as fully functioning adults in a world where nobody always gets everything they want. In the real world we have to deal with adversities, disappointments, hardships, failures and many other emotions. If you have never taught your child how to handle losing, not getting something they want, disappointment, or to accept no as an answer, how are they ever going to cope in the real world?
Why Do Parents Spoil A Child?
Parents do not generally intentionally set out to create a spoiled child; this generally happens over time without the parent noticing what is happening and can occur due to various factors, the main ingredients of which are insufficient rules for the child, too many toys, too much pocket-money, and letting them get away with disrespecting siblings, their peers and various adults.
Some of the most common causes of spoiling are:
- Inconsistency – sometimes it is just easier to give in because you are overworked or have been up with another of your children all night because they were sick, so you just let things slide or give in to the whining and let the child have ice-cream for breakfast when the rule is a healthy breakfast of cereal or oats. Being inconsistent teaches the child that rules are not really that rigid or important and can easily be broken.
- Doing too much – many parents hate to see a toddler struggle with anything, and jump in and do it for them. Whilst it is good to help your child, you need to sometimes just stand back and let them work things out for themselves. Doing too much for a child can rob them of the experience of conquering a problem, which builds knowledge and character, and can also make them lazy and too dependent on you.
- Guilt – family dynamics are far different today from what they were a few decades ago. Today many families are either single-parent homes or homes where both parents work. Both of these scenarios are ripe for exploitation by children as parents are guilt-ridden because they cannot spend as much time with their children as they would like. Guilt can cause you to over-indulge and under-discipline your child and that is the perfect recipe for raising a spoiled child.
- Trying to give your children what you did not have – all parents want to give their children the things that their parents could not afford to give them. There is nothing wrong in buying stuff for your child if you can afford it, but you need to be wary of giving them too much or they could become very materialistic and always yearn for more.
- Believing your child can do no wrong – all parents would like to believe that their children are angels, and often make the mistake of thinking that the back-chatting is cute, or the fact that they break things is not the end of the world, or that it is funny. It is easier to ignore bad behavior and write it off to hi-jinks than admit that you have no idea how to stop that type of behavior. Not giving your child any limits, however, will cause them to be disrespectful to other people and their belongings. Others may not be so forgiving of your spoiled child.
Raising children is difficult, and there are no courses one can take on parenthood, no exams one needs to pass and no licenses one is required to get to be a parent. Parenting is generally done by using a combination of how you and your spouse were brought up, common knowledge and your morals, ethics and world-view. There is nothing wrong with this, as long as you make sure that you maintain a healthy balance in all things whilst rearing your offspring.
How To NOT Raise A Spoiled Child
As a parent you need to ensure that you instill good values, ethics and morals in your children. This can be done in a variety of ways, so that when your children grow up they enter the world as adults who have values, know how to make decisions, can show gratitude and respect, and know the value of money.
The best way to ensure that you instill the correct values in your offspring and do not raise a spoiled child is to:
- Be a good role-model – whilst you are not the only influence in your child’s life, it is imperative that you are the best one, so make sure that you give them a good example to emulate.
- Spend time with them – do not use toys and treats to create a bond with your child, as this will create a spoiled child. Rather make time to do things with them so that you can fill their emotional needs with love not material goods or money.
- Teach them manners – it is your job to ensure that your child is socialized and knows how to behave in company so that when they go to school or go out in the world they do not disrespect other people.
- Teach them values – children need to know that one has to work to get what one wants, that pouting, crying, throwing tantrums and manipulation is not the way, and that one must value what one has, and that one’s value is determined on how you treat others, not on how much money you have, what you drive or what you wear.
- Teach them responsibility – this means that you need to teach your offspring that actions have consequences by holding them accountable for wrongdoings and rewarding them for achievements.
- Teach them gratitude – this can be done by ensuring that they do not have a sense of entitlement, even if you have the means, but that they should be grateful for what they have and for what they get, and not always want more. This includes teaching them to say thank you when given something.
- Teach them discipline – one of the easiest ways to prevent your offspring from becoming a spoiled child is to teach them the value of work and the discipline it takes to earn money. Give them chores to do through which they must earn their pocket money, and enforce the rule that if the chores are not done they will go without their pocket money. These chores do not have to be huge, and they must be age-appropriate, such as helping to set or clear the dinner table, putting their toys away, or helping to take the garbage out.
- Teach them about finances – a good way to do this is to teach them from a young age not to just spend all their allowance in one go; let them divide it up into four; one quarter to Spend, one to Invest, one to Donate, and one to Save. The Spending money can be spent on sweets or any other treats they want to buy, the Savings are what they can use to buy that expensive game or toy or whatever that they want; the Investment money can be put into a bank account every so often so that when they are older they have a nice little kitty; and they can be taught to choose a charity every few months to which the Donation money is given. This method teaches them the value of money, how to save, the value of an expensive item, and how to be altruistic and care for those who don’t have what they do.
At the end of the day, the best way to ensure that you are not raising a spoiled child is to ensure that you create a very balanced, loving, disciplined atmosphere in the home and always lead by example.