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Health & Parenting

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Unspoil Your Child

WebMD Feature from "Redbook" Magazine

By Marisa Cohen
Redbook Magazine Logo
A trinket here. A toy there. Somehow it's all adding up to a kid who expects to get whatever she asks for. Here's how to unspoil your child.

Who hasn't bought a few moments of peace from a screaming toddler with a lollipop or splurged on a pair of sneakers just to hear your son say, "Mom, you're the best!" When you're busy or stressed, it's tempting to buy your 2-year-old that stuffed pony just so you can get through Wal-Mart without the Embarrassing Public Tantrum. Or let your kid eat candy and bread for dinner so you can eat your own fish and veggies in peace. But if your child rarely has to wait between "I want it" and "I have it," then he may be missing out on the chance to develop the emotional tools he'll need to be a happy and successful adult. “When your child doesn't have the opportunity to deal with the little disappointments in life by your saying no to her, you may be giving her poor preparation for dealing with the small or large difficulties that may come her way," says Diane Ehrensaft, Ph.D., author of Spoiling Childhood: How Well-Meaning Parents Are Giving Children Too Much — But Not What They Need. It's not too far a stretch to see how a child who is given every new video game the day it comes out can develop into an adult who gets frustrated when he isn't given the corner office on his first day of work, notes Steven Friedfeld, a family therapist in New York City. But you can put an end to the gimmes — whether it's your child's inflated holiday list or her insistence on treats or snacks as prepayment for good behavior. Here's how to go about implementing the despoiling process:

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