Few mothers haven’t been tempted to give into their little one’s every whim. Your toddler or preschooler is irresistible, except when he’s throwing one of his infamous temper tantrums, which is not unusual for children, regardless of whether they’re spoiled. Showering your young child with material gifts, always giving in or being too lenient allows your child to be the director of the household, leaving you in the position of a helpless player whose main line is “Your wish is my command.” The consensus is that spoiling your child does more harm than good.
Catering to your child to the point of over-indulgence is one of the most insidious forms of child abuse, according to TV talk therapist Dr. Phil. Teaching your child how the real world works — that it doesn’t revolve around his desires — is your top job as a parent. A determined child might slam doors, throw fits and stomp her feet to twist your arms to get her way at home, but such unruly behavior will likely be met with disapproval, embarrassment or worse in the outside world.
Expert and Parental Insight
If you’re guilty of giving gifts and giving in more often than you should, take heart. In a 2012 article in The New Yorker titled “Spoiled Rotten — Why Do Kids Rule the Roost?,” author Elizabeth Kolbert suggests that parents protect their children from failure by being over-helpful. Today’s parents give their kids few household chores and “unprecedented authority,” Kolbert noted.
Denise Schipani, mother and author of the 2012 book “Mean Moms Rule: Why Doing the Hard Stuff Now Creates Good Kids Later,” told ABCNews.com that parents need to let their child “own” his failures as well as his achievements. Requiring your child to do age-appropriate activities gives them pride and a feeling of accomplishment as it prepares them for the world, Schipani explained.
Spoiled Child Syndrome
Many pediatricians take issue with describing a child as “spoiled.” Some physicians maintain that it’s impossible to spoil infants and young children. An article published in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy Pediatrics, discusses what’s been dubbed spoiled child syndrome. Signs of SCS include excessive self-centered and immature behavior that’s rooted in the failure of parents to impose consistent, age-appropriate limits. The article notes that many behavioral problems have nothing to do with “spoiling” a child but rather are normal age-related behaviors such as temper tantrums during the Terrible Twos or reactions to stressful conditions.
Consequences of Breaking the Rules
No matter how hard you’ve worked to teach your tot rules, slips are bound to occur. If your child crushes a plastic toy by stomping on it, he’ll soon realize he was only hurting himself because he won’t be able to play with it anymore. If your child is throwing a tantrum or otherwise acting out, give him fair warning that he’ll have a time-out if he doesn’t calm down. One minute should be spent in a quiet time-out space for every year of your child’s age. For instance, a 2-year-old would spend two minutes, a 3-year-old three minutes.
Meeting your child’s development needs and strong desire for your focused attention should not be confused with spoiling your little one. Spoiling your child with material objects denies her the opportunity to experience unconditional love. Lovingly caring for your child will set the groundwork to becoming a contented, competent and socially adept adult, according to the Child Development Institute.