We’ve all heard that we shouldn’t give a child everything she wants because this action is a sure way to spoil her. This advice is only partially true. Actually, there are six surefire ways we can create a totally spoiled child.
Yes, I did say, “We can create.” The we refers to any of us raising children or helping to raise them (parents, teachers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and so on). With this knowledge, the question arises, “Have I been creating a spoiled child?”
I invite you to examine the following ways to spoil a child and compare each to what you’ve been doing since your child was a bitsie.
- Do Everything For Them
You bring their forgotten items into school for them. You do their laundry when they’re old enough to do it themselves. You pick up after them and clean their rooms…
2. Expect Nothing From Them
You don’t assign household tasks to them. You allow them to set their own rules with little or no guidelines from you…
- Overlook Their Unacceptable Behavior
You don’t hold them accountable for their decisions. You blame others and accept excuses for the children’s unacceptable behavior. You give chance after chance. You use sporadic or no consequences…
- Fill Every Moment For Them
You make sure they have play dates, music and dance lessons, individual coaching in a sport…. You arrange transportation for all of it too. Your constant attendance to their social life tells them they are the center of the universe rather than merely a very important part of it…
- Solve All Their Problems for Them
You call the teacher and take care of issues without the involvement of your child. You tell your children what they should be doing rather than engaging them in problem-solving. You make decisions for them without their input…
- Expect Obedience
You tell your children what to do and how to do it. You make strict rules. You allow for little disagreement with you. You don’t model the behaviors you expect from them. You issue punishments rather than consequences…
If you find yourself doing several or all of the above, you are contributing to or creating a spoiled person; a self-centered, entitled, irresponsible person who is lacking in empathy and altruism. To create responsible and loving people, please consider the following alternative ways of raising children:
- Instead of doing everything for them, Teach Them How To Do It Themselves.
Spend time showing them how to take care of their clothes, how to get themselves up for school, how to schedule their time, and continue showing them how do everything you expect…
- Instead of expecting nothing from them, Teach Them How To Take Part in Life Outside Themselves
Hold expectations that they will carry out the household tasks you have shown them how to do. Show them how to become involved in a volunteer activity in the neighborhood or community, and model this yourself. Spend time discussing the good qualities of others, especially those you don’t associate with or even like. Have talks about bullying and what children can do about it…
- Instead of overlooking their unacceptable behavior, Teach Them How To Deal With Consequences.
Create consequences for unacceptable behavior, and carry through with them. Consequences are not punishments (see Blog entitled “Parents ask,…) Support them with your empathy and encouragement as they deal with the consequences and meet the expectation. Then tell them you’re proud that they accomplished it, and that’s the end of the consequence for this particular time.
- .Instead of filling all their time for them, Teach Them How To Make Healthy Choices
Spend time together discussing what sport your child wants to do, what instrument s/he wants to play, what dance lessons s/he wants to take, what clubs s/he wants to join; and guide him in choosing some, but not so many that all his time is taken up… Occasional boredom is a healthy experience and often the pathway to creativity.
- Instead of solving all their problems for them, Teach Them How To Deal With Disappointment and How To Solve Problems.
Listen and express empathy when your child is upset rather than minimizing her feelings by telling her she’ll get over it. Make a practice of having your child at parent teacher meetings, and over time teach her to lead these meetings. When a problem occurs between your child and friends, spend time with your child discussing ways to solve it, and then let her do it herself while you sit on the sidelines to encourage and support. Be the “guide on the side,” rather than the “sage on the stage.”
- Instead of Expecting Obedience, Teach Them How to Work Through a Power-Struggle.
Incorporate reasonable rules and even involve the children in creating some of them. Discuss reasons these rules are important to others as well as to them. When your children don’t carry through, teach them how to make amends. Have consequences that match the responsibility they didn’t carry out. Teach them how to listen to opposing views, to respond by checking their understanding of what the other is saying, and to use problem solving language such as I Messages rather than You Messages…
If you’re not now following this list for how to create a responsible child, you will find that changing will be a huge challenge. You will become discouraged often, but aren’t you experiencing discouragement and disappointment now? These six ways to create responsible kids will lead to a great deal more happiness for all.
P.S. To learn helpful strategies for carrying out these six ways to create responsible kids, read the blogs here on this website, and I strongly suggest books by Faber and Mazlich.
Copyright 2006 Judy Harmon Holmes