8 Ways to NOT Spoil Your Kids
We can all recognize a “spoiled” child right away by his attitude and behavior. He’s that whiny, demanding kid who seems to have his parents wrapped around his finger. No one wants to have their child turn out spoiled, so how does this happen?
Today many families have two parents who work. They can afford to “overindulge” their children and want to try to make-up for time not spent with them. Divorced parents tend to overcompensate for time away by being lax and giving the child too many things. Most commonly, parents give in to a child’s demands not because the parent wants to, but because they’re afraid of the child’s reaction if they don’t.
How can we avoid spoiling our kids?
- When you say “no,” stick to it! Kids learn pretty quickly which buttons to push to wear a parent down. Don’t be manipulated! If your child whines and cries in public until you give him the candy or whatever to keep him quiet, the next time he’ll only whine and cry louder or longer to get the same thing. His “strategy” worked before and he’ll try it again!
- Teach kids to think “How can I help?” rather than “What’s in it for me?” Teach giving both things and deeds by getting involved in community service. Have him pack up old toys and books for charity, then take him with you to deliver them. This lets him see that his efforts make a difference and that there is something out there bigger than himself. It also gives more value to the many things that he has.
- This is an especially good idea over the holidays, when there are more opportunities to GIVE! Have kids donate old toys to charity, have them pick out and wrap new toys for organizations that distribute gifts to needy families. Have kids start thinking more “other” directed thoughts than focusing on the commercials and catalogs that we’re bombarded with during this time of year.
- Have the family work towards a goal as a team. Agree upon the goal beforehand, a trip to Disneyland, a pizza party, or whatever. Set up a jar in the kitchen. Deposit a token in the jar (either a penny or a marble or whatever) whenever a family member does something special. This could be getting a good grade on a test, washing the dishes without being asked, helping a neighbor with her groceries, etc. Parents can get marbles for their good deeds, too. This is positive reinforcement, so don’t take tokens out as punishment, they can only go in. When the jar is filled, the family earns its reward and you start with a new jar!
- Allow your child to do things on his/her own. Kids can be spoiled not just by getting too many things, but by having too many things done for them. There’s an old proverb: “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” My Real Parenting proverb is “Give a kid a bowl of cereal and he eats breakfast. Teach him to make breakfast and you can sleep in on Saturdays!”
These are little successes that add up to good self-esteem. Encourage independence!
Three things that can never spoil a child:
1. Affection: Warmth, praise, hugs, kisses, “I love yous”
2. Attention: Interest in his activities, eye-contact, conversation, “being there” physically, mentally, emotionally for your child.
3. Time: Quality time and also quantity time. Whether it’s going to a movie, grocery shopping or hanging out at home, this is how you get to know your child and what is going on in his life.