Do you love spoiling your child with lavish gifts, over the top parties or constant attention and activities? While it can feel good to give your kids the things you never had, or provide constant entertainment with a flow of toys and gifts, experts believe that overindulging your children can actually be bad for them and set them up for failure later in life.
The consequences of spoiling your child
Psychiatrist and author Dr Frederic Neuman believes that a spoiled child more than likely grows up to be a spoiled adult. Some characteristics of spoiled children include:
- An unwillingness to conform to ordinary demands of living in a family. For example, refusing to pick up toys or eat dinner with everyone else.
- A constant demand for attention.
- Irritable and unsympathetic to others.
- Wanting what he wants, when he wants it.
If your child grows up to be a spoiled adult, this can often result in him being:
- Unpleasant and obnoxious
- Difficult to work with in a team
- Unwilling to help others
- Angry that things don’t go his way when he wants them to
- A sore loser
- Greedy and impatient.
However, Dr Neuman makes an important point about spoiled children. He says it’s all about their attitude and not necessarily what they get, as he’s met wealthy adults who grew up in wealthy families, yet they work hard and appreciate what they have.
This goes back to childhood, he believes. “Just showering a child with gifts will not necessarily spoil him; but giving him gifts, even trivial gifts such as candy, simply because he demands it, will. Similarly, a child who simply asks for special treatment will not necessarily be spoiled, but if he stomps his feet and demands it, and then gets it, he will. Conversely, a child who is dealt with firmly is not in danger of being spoiled,” explains Dr Neuman.
Types of overindulgence
To help parents better understand the type of spoiling that goes on at home, researchers from the Overindulgence Project have identified three types of overindulgence, plus how to stop them:
Giving too much
This includes toys, activities and all the ‘latest’ tech stuff.
Let your child be bored! Give him the opportunities to learn and explore on his own without having everything at his fingertips. This will help him to be resourceful and will also give you the time to observe and learn more about your child’s character. Also, learn to say no – sometimes just for the sake of it, even if you can afford that new toy.
This is a complex issue for protective parents who want to keep their child from experiencing hurt or disappointment, or who want to help their kids succeed at everything – but this doesn’t mean doing it for them. Also, over-nurturing doesn’t mean you can’t shower your kids with love and affection. There’s never a limit to that! It has more to do with what you do for your kids, rather than how much you love them.
Offer guidance, but let your kids solve their own problems. Help them to overcome difficult situations on their own to help them build confidence – even though you could do it for them. Encourage independence within healthy, safe boundaries and let your kids thrive on their own.
Soft structure, ie. being too soft
This point ties in with Dr Neuman’s belief that spoiled children don’t understand the word no. Soft structure means not giving kids enough discipline or healthy limits. This can happen when parents are divorced, and no one wants to be the “hard” parent.
Give your child healthy boundaries all the time. Establish a home routine with a few key rules and stick to them. This could include rules around, wake-up and bedtime, tidying up or being kind to siblings. It’s also important not to give in when your child has a tantrum or protests a rule. This will help him to build respect for adults and societies, rules and structures.
In the words of author and parenting expert, Chip Ingram, “Life is full of hardship and suffering, so teach your kids to suffer well. Be consistent, be kind but be firm.”
Tammy is a wife, mom and freelance writer with 15 years’ experience in the media industry. She specialises in general lifestyle topics related to health, wellness and parenting. Tammy has a passion for fitness and the great outdoors. If she’s not running around after her daughter, you’ll find her off the beaten track, running, hiking or riding her bike.