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Is Your Child Spoiled Rotten?

Experts tell parents how to decode the spoiled child.

What Kids Need continued...

If there are extenuating circumstances -- such as an extended vacation, divorce or a major crisis in the family -- it's even more vital to enforce the rules. Structure helps children adapt to stress, says Kindlon.

Yet moms and dads also need to be sensitive to the needs of the child. "Parents have a job of figuring out what is behind the pleading and demanding," says Tanner, noting that kids' desires might be momentary -- such as if they saw something appealing on TV or in the toy store -- or the child might be signaling a deeper need, such as time with a parent.

Unspoiling a Child

If parents find themselves always angry at their child, because the kid doesn't answer to them, or if they feel their rules have become too excessive in response to the child's bad behavior, then it may be time to make changes, says Ross Black, MD, a spokesman for the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Moms and dads who want to do something about spoiled children need to do the basic things that need to be done to prevent spoiled kids in the first place, including setting firm limits, being consistent, and providing choices.

The process of unspoiling, however, may be a lot harder because it would be like breaking a bad habit, says Black. He suggests having an initial conversation with the spoiled child, laying down what is going to happen to avoid confusion.

"You can approach it by saying, 'I don't like what has happened with what we've been doing, so we need to change. I still love you as my child, but when you do these kinds of things, I feel concerned and I would like to change that,'" says Black.

The child may say she does not want to change, but parents need to stand firm and say things will change, and to present options of how the change could take place.

For more help with disciplining a child, Black suggests the following resources: self-help books, courses that offer a special technique called Parent Effectiveness Training (PET), pediatricians, and behavioral psychologists.

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