Is Your Child Spoiled Rotten?
Experts tell parents how to decode the spoiled child.
Causes of Spoiling
Many experts agree that most moms and dads love their children,
and simply want the best for them. Their efforts, however, can sometimes have
the opposite effect if they're not mindful.
"There are parents who don't want their kids to experience
hardship or emotional stress of any kind," says Schmitt. "In the
process, they teach the kid to have a personality that gets into all kinds of
emotional stresses, because their behavior is unacceptable."
Pressures from the outside world can also make it tough for
parents to exert enough discipline, says Kindlon. With a greater consumer
culture than ever before, more demanding academic and extracurricular
requirements for children, longer work schedules for parents, less family time,
and a generally more lenient society, many mothers and fathers feel more
inclined to go easy on their kids.
Plus, some moms and dads may use their kids as
"Prozac," says Kindlon. "In past generations, the parents didn't
care whether their kids liked them or not," he explains. "Now, given
there are other things in our lives that aren't that satisfying, having good
relationships with our kids is something that makes us feel good."
Then there are the persons who simply do not know how to be
firm with their young. "There are people who cannot tolerate anger from
another person, including their child," says Constance Katz, PhD, a
psychotherapist based in New York City.
There are, indeed, many obstacles to the proper disciplining of
kids. The bottom line is, however, that children need parents to raise them to
be responsible and social adults.
What Kids Need
"Kids need to know that there are firm limits out there,
because it's not very secure to know that the limits change everyday," says
Thompson. One way to teach children boundaries, he says, is to actually give
them choices, beginning at 18 months old -- the age when people are capable of
making simple decisions about right and wrong.
Choices may involve things like "Do you want orange juice
or tomato juice?" or "Do you want to wear this outfit or that
It is important to give kids options that you, as a parent, can
live with. "You don't come home and say, 'Okay, you three kids, what do you
want for dinner?' You might have three short orders,'" says Thompson.
As the children grow older, the list of options obviously
becomes more complicated. But, if kids have practice with making simple
decisions, they can be more trusted to make more difficult choices later in
life, adds Thompson. "If you take the time [to present options to kids] in
the first 11 years of life, it will pay off in dividends in the teen years. The
child doesn't have to be a rebellious teenager."