Spoiling a child is something that none of us ever want to do and that most of us try hard to avoid. However at the same time we all want to make sure that our children get everything they want, never go without, and always feel like they’re special and looked after. In other words we want to spoil our children, but without actually causing them to become spoiled.
A spoiled child expects everything to go their way all the time. They’re used to getting what they want, and they’re used to things going right. Thus, when for whatever reason things don’t go their way – they won’t be used to hearing the word ‘no’ and they’ll end up kicking up a tantrum or making a fuss.
The question is – how do you handle a spoiled child and counteract these tantrums – and how do you treat them in such a way that you don’t exacerbate the issue?
Stick to Your Word
One of the things that results in your child becoming spoiled is the fact that their tantrum-throwing often works. You tell them they can’t have something, they end up causing a storm, and you then fold and let them have it. This then means that you are reinforcing the belief that they can get what they want by kicking off. In other words you are rewarding them for that negative behavior and if you are doing this then it will mean that they never learn to stop doing it. At the same time they will grow to believe that in any situation if they make enough noise they can cause things to go their way.
So if you tell them they can’t have something, then you need to really mean it and not change your mind – no matter what kind of fuss they make. And the best way to treat this behavior? Just to ignore it. If it occurs at home then you can do this by simply shutting them away in their room until they calm down.
Tip: Some parents believe that the best way to prevent a tantrum is to throw one themselves – the children will be so shocked that they will be stunned into silence.
It’s a good idea to explain to children why they can’t have something – explain that you can’t afford to pay for that toy they want, and how if you pay for that then you might not be able to pay the bills and that would lead you to get into trouble, maybe debt, and eventually face repossession of your home… Okay so it’s a little extreme, but when they realize that the adult world is a little more complex than they think then they’ll be more grateful for the things they do receive, and they’ll be able to make more measured and mature decisions in future.
Likewise if they receive something from someone else, or if someone agrees to do their thing, point out to them how nice that person has been and what it would have cost them. Meanwhile if you are telling them they can’t have pudding, then explain that doing so could lead them to becoming overweight and perhaps ill. Try to get them to see things from the other perspective and to realize the value of money, and the importance of discipline.
You also need to make sure that your children understand the importance of gratitude. You can do this by pointing out how important it is to say thank you when they’re given something – always reinforce this. At the same time come Christmas or birthdays, make sure that you get them to write their thank you letters for the relatives that send them money and toys. This way you’re forcing them to examine their own feelings and their gratitude which should make them more grateful for things and less spoiled.
Another way to punish a child for acting spoiled is to confiscate their belongings that they already have. This again helps to ensure that they don’t take things for granted and that they understand their value and how much each item means to them.
You can also get your children to work for things and for privileges which will again provide a good model for the way the world works, and will help them to recognize value. For instance if your children want to stay up later then tell them they can if they finish all their homework by a certain time, or if they tidy their room. Explain to them too that in the real world, it’s only by working that you can get the things you want. Tell them how they have to learn to think ahead and to be sensible if they want to achieve the things they want.
Be Cruel to Be Kind
Sometimes it’s very hard to turn down a child’s requests. You want them to be happy and so when you say ‘no’ and leave them crying in their room it feels like you’re being a bad parent. But remember your job isn’t just to cater to their every whim and fancy – your job is to make sure that they are prepared for the real world, that they are healthy and that they learn to take disappointment, learn to have self discipline, and learn to work alongside others. So in fact by saying ‘no’ you are doing your children a big favor – by doing what they want all the time you are in fact being selfish and sacrificing their future ability to work alongside others for a bit of temporary gratification on your part. Again you can explain things to your children too and you shouldn’t underestimate their intelligence – so tell them how it’s important to say no to yourself sometimes.
Praise Good Behavior
If you child says ‘don’t worry, I don’t need to have another cuddly toy’ then what you have here is a break through. Praise them and in particular praise their maturity and their intelligence – make sure they feel good about that decision and you will be rewarding positive behavior and thus encouraging more of it.
Show Them Bad Behavior
Often we think that we are being well behaved or doing well when we see things from our own perspective – but if we could step out of our skin and observe our behavior then we would be shocked to see just how poor our behavior is. The same is true of children, and often the only way to explain to them what they’re doing wrong is to show them what they look like. So if you hear a child throwing a tantrum in a supermarket or toy shop, or if they invite a friend round who is particularly spoiled and badly behaved, then just point out their behavior and tell them that that’s what a ‘spoiled child looks like’. You should find they then do everything in their power to be more mature than that and to be better behaved.