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Health & Parenting

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Are Your Children Spoiled?

For all ages and a myriad of behavior problems, WebMD helps parents regain control.

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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.

In these hard economic times, more parents may simply be being forced to say no, Bromfield says. “The fact that people are struggling is not a good thing, but there might be a mixed blessing. Because of financial limits, people are probably giving their kids less. I see a lot of parents who are struggling with this because they’re feeling really badly. But I see this as an opportunity. In the way that the stock market and real estate prices are correcting, I think over-indulgent parenting is correcting, too.”

6. Stay on Track

Despite a parent’s best intentions to stop spoiling a child, lots of things can derail the effort, experts say, including fatigue or being overwhelmed by work responsibilities or marital troubles. “Parents will backslide and undermine their progress,” Bromfield says.

What’s the secret to getting back on track?

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