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How to Avoid Spoiling Our Children

Most people would agree that it is not a good idea to over-indulge our children. This can happen many ways, often unconsciously. This article will describe these areas, and detail suggestions to be less indulging with our young people. I will also talk about the reasons that parents and carers spoil their children, in order to make them more aware of their own behaviour.

Parent guilt, due to long hours of work, being a single parent, or having a child or parent who has special needs, can lead to indulgent behaviour. If a parent has had a very difficult life, she may wish to give her child a better life.

Often parents neglect to look after themselves, which makes it hard to consider what is in their children’s best interests in the long term. The parents may be reacting, rather than consciously parenting. Many parents have poor self-esteem, and want their offspring to help them feel popular. Sometimes they believe it is their job to keep their child from feeling unhappy most of the time. Children and adults need to experience the full range of emotions, and to work through these emotions in the most appropriate ways.

Children can be spoiled by being given too many things. Sometimes parents have a lot of money or compete with other parents. Some love seeing excitement in their children’s eyes, when they receive presents. I would recommend that children receive gifts for birthdays and Christmas, and little else. Toys can be rotated so that they appear to be new and different. Children can learn to save their pocket money, to buy something they really want. We need to have the gumption to say no, when asked for a new item, and refuse to give in to angry outbursts or manipulation. Children can also borrow things they want from toy and book libraries for example.

Giving in to children’s whining, whinging and tantrums is a common way of over-indulging them. They carry on more when they are given a lot of attention and power, for doing it. We can turn or walk away from them, after explaining why they are not getting something, and give them lots of positive attention and power, at other times during the day.

When we do too much for our young people, we are pampering them and running ourselves ragged. I used to tell my children that I was not their slave, or that they had good legs to get things for themselves. I refused to wait on them hand and foot, when they could contribute. We can love our children without doing everything for them, and they will feel more competent and capable if they are encouraged to take on responsibilities, to contribute to the running of the household. They will benefit by being as independent as possible for their developmental stage.

When they leave the nest, they need to be prepared. We don’t want them to feel entitled; to expect others to mollycoddle them. Consideration of others is an important value. We want them to feel like they are part of the family and society.

Offering too much unhealthy food, or too much food, is a form of spoiling. If our children aren’t happy with the food that is offered, they can wait until the next meal or snack time.  3 mealtimes and 2 snack-times works well. Rewarding with food is undesirable, and can lead to food addiction or overweight young people, if overdone. Learning the basics of good nutrition and healthy food preparation is our job, as is setting a healthy example for our children.

If we don’t set appropriate boundaries, we are over-indulging them. Our children need to learn acceptable behaviour, from early on in life, and that hurting others or vandalising is intolerable. Society has rules and regulations, and we need to prepare our young people for the wider world, and for work life, using encouragement and consequences.

Spoiling occurs when we avoid teaching manners and values. By teaching lessons such as right from wrong, please and thank you, honesty and compassion we are more likely to raise decent, humane and responsible citizens.

We baby our children when we are over-protective. It is our role to gradually allow our children more and more responsibility and freedom, and to educate them about dangers and healthy living, all the way through. They also need to make mistakes and learn from them, as well as to take small risks in order to be stimulated, confident and empowered.

By not teaching our children to look after their own, and family member’s possessions, we are spoiling them. Children can have toys or other items taken away for a reasonable time, when they are rough with these things, in order to instil carefulness. They also need to learn, from our example, that there is a place for everything, and everything goes in its place, so that chaos is avoided.

By not fostering independent play, or not allowing our youngsters to solve problems and create their own inventions and constructions, we are letting our children down. Providing simple things like drawing implements, sand, play-dough, water, blocks and boxes, will promote these highly important pursuits.

It is vital that parents think in the long term, and prepare their children for real life. This means socialising them, setting boundaries, by using logical and natural consequences, and setting a healthy example. Communicating effectively, practising positivity and using respectful discipline is of equal value. Parents need to nurture, provide stimulating activities and teach rules, so that problems are prevented most of the time. Giving responsibilities according to the children’s level of development is also vital.