Are Your Children Spoiled?
For all ages and a myriad of behavior problems, WebMD helps parents regain control.
2. Replace empty threats with clear, calm, concise instructions.
“Kids hear their parents say, ‘stop, no, it’s the last time.’ All the screaming and the counting to three and the threats -- we have trained them to ignore us for 11 hours because they know that in the 12th hour, they’re going to get their way,” Bromfield says. “I tell parents to say what you mean. If you just say the words and say what’s going to happen and stick to it, that’s what has the power -- the consequence. You don’t even have to yell.”
Also, avoid the trap of over-explaining or haggling endlessly over routine matters, such as tooth-brushing, turning off the video game, or bedtime. Your child will only argue with you like a pint-sized lawyer, Bromfield says. Think about it, he says: Does your 11-year-old son really need hundreds of nightly reminders about the benefits of dental hygiene if he’s smart enough to memorize 493 species of Pokemon?
3. Provide consistent discipline and consequences.
“Actions speak louder than words,” Bromfield says. Cut the chatter and provide concrete consequences, he suggests. “Is tooth-brushing a problem for your child? Try no treats for the entire next day. No warnings, no threats, just a total prohibition of sugar and sweets for the next 24 hours. Does he refuse to [pick] up his toys? Put them all away for a few days, period.” At first, your child may whine and cry, but don’t give in to tantrums. “Children need to grow used to handling reasonable limits without feeling devastated, rejected, and unloved.”
4. Avoid rescuing or overprotecting your child.
Is your daughter always late for school? Stop nagging and let her suffer the consequences of constant tardiness, Bromfield says. It sounds simple, but most parents are quick to rush in and rescue. His advice: “Unless the children are in danger, let them stew in the messes they make.”
Parents who repeatedly shield their children from consequences thwart their growth in character, experts say.
5. Ask yourself if you’re overindulging your child materially.
Many parents shower their children with gifts and never require them to earn something on their own, experts say. But spoiling your children with all the toys, clothes, and electronic gadgets they want deprives them of important life lessons, such as saving up for a treasured possession, Bromfield says. “If you get everything, you don’t learn gratitude. If you never have to wait, you don’t learn patience.”
The psychologist says that he sees mothers who buy themselves $12 dresses at discount stores, but think nothing of spending $200 on their child’s shoes. Instead, try to cut back on excessive spending and shift some responsibility to your child to do chores or save allowance money for purchases.