“To give or not to give” is a question that mystifies almost all parents. So how much should you give your little one before he or she becomes a spoiled child?
Bratty behaviour is off-putting, but how can you prevent it? You don’t want to shortchange your child either. Balance, as always, is the key, and it’s not easy to achieve. Here are some signs that you’ve over-indulged your little hero or heroine.
How does a child become spoiled?
Experts in child psychology such as Dr. Laura Markham cringe at the terms “spoiled” or “brat“. They connote rejection and ruination. These words are also inappropriate to say since it is parents who are accountable for their behaviour. According to Dr. Markham, adults lead children to understand behavioural and social norms. They will not adhere to limits if they are too lax.
Parents often encourage spoiled behaviour unwittingly despite their positive intentions. They are afraid of saying ‘no’ for fear of hurting feelings. Some are just too tired after a day’s work to enforce rules.
10 signs of a spoiled child: do they sound like your kid?
Hence, many parents fail to notice hints of unwanted or temperamental behaviour. Here are a few signs that you may need to rein in your child.
1. Tantrum throwing
This is the first and most obvious sign of a spoiled child. This behavior is one that parents should address immediately and is as clear as day. Should your seven-year-old child throw a fit just because they don’t get to go where they wish to, pull the reins at once. They should start to learn about boundaries and constraints.
2. Your child cannot cope with simple chores
All children must achieve independence, and of course, some will be more independent than others. When your ten-year-old child throws a fit just because breakfast is not on schedule, you know that you’ll need to pull the reins.
It’s challenging to determine if a child has developed undesirable character nuances. Experts suggest that a three-year-old should be able to put their toys away after using them. A ten-year-old should be able to prepare simple meals.
3. You give in to all your child’s requests
Do you find yourself giving in to your child’s whims and fancies for fear that they will throw tantrums? Many hassled parents give in because they cannot bear the thought of another person yelling at them after a long day of work; their bosses had already done that. On other occasions, they just want to bond with their children because their work schedules are tight.
While the intentions are sound, giving in to children to readily isn’t in their best interests. They will start to form unrealistic expectations and want everyone to cater to their whims. When parents immediately satisfy every wish a child has, they grow up into a tempered and immature adult.
4. Negative reaction from peers
In essence, the child will bring out the attitude they receive in their family. If they never get punished when they do something wrong and always get what they fancy, they don’t learn the basic rule of life – every action has consequences. Thus, such a kid will feel entitled, which will affect the way they treat other children.
Furthermore, spoiled children will get adverse reactions from their peers. They may face ostracism because they don’t know how to socialise well. You’ll often find them taking things from others without giving something in return, and of course, the reception to that is almost always as you’d expect.
5. Your child is afraid to lose
Is your child a sore loser? A spoiled child hates competition, even more so when someone else gets to claim the prize they covet. Children must engage in competitive activities and learn that everyone loses occasionally.
Your child should learn that failure is a part of life and they can’t always win. Moreover, unhealthy competitiveness is not going to lead them anywhere. It will only bring them bitterness and anger.
6. The spoiled child speaks in a presumptuous manner
Spoiled kids speak to adults, particularly the ones that they do not like, as less than equals. They presume that they can get everyone to do their bidding, including those who have had years of life experience under their belts. There is a complete disregard for authority.
This kind of attitude reveals a sense of entitlement, so you need to deal with this behavior as soon as possible if you don’t want to see your child developing into a narcissist.
7. You issue empty threats
Your child is spoiled if you find them ignoring your threats of punishment. Unheeded warnings are ineffective and even detrimental. A power struggle is not the way to form meaningful relationships.
Later on, your child may end up handling conflict and disagreements in an unhealthy way, such as becoming manipulative and passive-aggressive. Don’t let your kid adopt this kind of immature approach to relationships.
8. Inconsistent expectations
Parents of spoiled children don’t set boundaries early enough. Their children do as they please because they know that they will not suffer consequences. If you issue a curfew and skip the punishment, your child will view it as an empty threat and ignore it.
When you don’t punish your child if they did something wrong, they don’t learn that their actions have consequences and they need to take responsibility. This is a one-way road to becoming an immature and irresponsible adult.
9. You protect your child from painful emotions
Do you rush to comfort your child each time they whine or stomp their foot? You may have to act quickly to nip the spoiled behaviour in the bud. Children need to process complicated feelings like fear and anger. It’s up to parents to furnish them with that need.
Children of overprotective parents often grow into mentally weak adults who develop unhealthy coping mechanisms. If you don’t want this for your child, you need to let them experience life in all its depth, both negative and positive sides of it. Otherwise, they will never develop resilience and will be helpless when life throws them a curveball.
10. Your child doesn’t understand that money doesn’t grow on trees
You have spoiled your child if they tend to overspend. They think that it is within their rights to get any toy they fancy. But should you indulge them whenever they whine? Children need to learn the process of saving money early, and that the things that they want at the time do not come for free.
Tips for preventing spoiled behaviour in your child
If you are feeling anxious because you have said yes to your child displaying these signs, take heart. You can take steps to counter the behaviour.
1. Set limits
The first order of business is to set limits. You must let your children understand what you like and dislike them to do. Set moral standards as well, as they will be the foundation for a child’s behaviour later on in life.
2. Use open-ended questions
It’s the adults’ responsibility to teach children to reflect on their actions, and they can do so by challenging children with questions that require them to consider the impact of their behaviour. You could ask, “Why do you think that taking the toy away from your brother isn’t the right thing to do?”
Asking them questions that trigger “yes” or “no” responses will show them that they only need to say what you want to hear.
3. Make sure that children do chores
As mentioned earlier, a spoiled child would expect you to do their chores for them. The key to making sure that they understand that nothing is a given is to make them work for what they want. Assign tasks around the home and make sure that they are age-appropriate – you can’t expect a three-year-old to prepare chicken sandwiches for the whole family.
But he or she can help to pick up books and stack them in designated areas. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has highlighted chores that are suitable for children of different ages.
It’s also essential to give your children some discipline, which does not mean using a rod every time they err. It implies structure, and it’s up to parents to find their balance.
Free-range parenting, which involves children doing activities at their discretion, works with active parental monitoring. Some parents may prefer to routinise their children. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advocates the early setting up of firm boundaries. Whatever your balance is, parental involvement in guiding them with appropriate conduct is necessary.
5. Raise children with an attitude of gratitude
While this seems like a commonsensical suggestion, we often neglect it. Sansone, in this study, recognises the potential links between gratitude and well-being, although they require more research. When children learn to say ‘thank you’ often enough, they’ll start doing so as a reflex action. They will make the expression of gratitude part and parcel of their lives.
Does the above description of a spoiled child sound like your kid? If yes, then you need to do something about it. Kids will throw the occasional tantrum, but an adult determines whether a child remains spoiled. These hints ensure that yours will stay grounded.
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