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Health & Parenting

Unspoil Your Child

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STEP 1: Acknowledge where the problem starts.

As much as we hate to admit it, spoiling is mostly about us parents: "We often try to compensate for what we didn't have as children, to assure ourselves that our children love us, or to make up for any parental guilt we feel," says Ehrensaft. Teresa Sellinger, a mother of three in Sparta, NJ, readily agrees with this: "I came from a huge family and grew up wearing hand-me-downs," she says. "So I'm always buying my daughters the most stylish, matching outfits to wear to school. I know that's more about my issues than theirs!" Giving your kids whatever new gizmo they want as soon as they want it is also a way to show off how successful you are, both financially and as a supermom. How many times have you heard a mom "complain" about how many Webkinz her kid has, as she simultaneously glows in the knowledge that she was able to buy them for her? Try to figure out where your need to spoil is coming from. Ask yourself a series of questions: Are you tired, overstressed, and trying to find a quick-fix solution? Are you feeling guilty for not spending enough time with your kids? Are you getting more of a kick out of this gift than your child is? Once you figure out what's driving your tendency to spoil your kids, you'll be better able to kick the habit.

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