8 Ways to NOT Spoil Your Kids
We can all recognize a spoiled child right away by his/her attitude and behavior. It's that whiny, demanding type of 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 they want to try to make-up for time not spent with them. Divorced parents may 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?
Stick to It
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 her the candy or whatever she wants to keep her quiet, the next time she will only whine and cry louder or longer to get the same thing. Her “strategy” worked before, and it'll be tried again!
Teach Them to Help and Give
Teach kids to think “How can I help?” rather than “What's in it for me?” Teach the act of giving both in things and in deeds by getting involved in community service. Have your child pack up old toys and books for charity, then take him with you to deliver them. This lets your child see that those efforts make a difference and that there is something out there bigger than your child. 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, and have them 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 then you start with a new jar!
Allow your children to do things on their 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/her 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 children and what is going on in their lives.