Could YOU be the reason your child is a spoiled brat?

Ways to NOT let that happen

What is a spoiled child? Although everyone might have their own definition of a spoiled child, most would probably include the following characteristics:

.  Self-centered and believes their way is the only one that matters.
.  Tantrums when told “no.”
.  Has a low frustration tolerance and complains constantly of being bored.
.  Constantly makes demands on adults that are difficult to satisfy.
.  Doesn’t respect the rights of other children or adults.
.  Not fun to be around.

Most experts would agree the genesis of the spoiled child begins early in life when a child is given too much power and not enough responsibility. Most overindulgent parents who give in to temper tantrums or crying or whining are well-meaning, but they’re none-theless teaching their children that this is how to get their way. A child who learns this will perpetuate his actions and will also “up the ante” as he ages.

“You can’t always get what you want”
Remember: It’s okay for children to cry! It’s unpleasant, I know, but if we continually give in to the tears or tantrums—whether for attention or an object—they’ll only escalate in intensity. If you ignore their unrealistic demands, they will stop their tantrums and importantly, learn they can’t always get what they want.

Parental guilt is often identified as one of the contributors to overindulgence. Some parents who feel guilty about the amount of time they don’t spend with their children, lavish them with “stuff” as a means of compensation for their absence. However, don’t confuse giving your child love and attention with overwhelming them with mounds of material goods.

Affection doesn’t equal spoiling
Years ago, in the pre-Dr. Spock days of child-rearing, it was believed that infants and children should not be held or cuddled, or given too much love or affection as that would “spoil” them and make them soft. I would like to be emphatic about the following statement: You can’t love your children too much or give them too much love and affection. Children need both as much as they need the air they breathe!

We all want to make our children happy and well adjusted little people who will grow to be well-adjusted and happy adults. The next time you feel the need to give your child a toy or game as a means of putting a smile on their face, give them an hour of your time instead. The time we give our children never ends up in the trash.

Ways to reduce your child’s materialistic tendencies
The following ideas might help to make the task easier and reduce materialistic tendencies while preventing “spoiling” your child.

1.  Set and be consistent in enforcing age-appropriate limits and responsibilities.

2.  Don’t immediately rush to rescue your child from frustration.

3.  Teach your child to delay gratification. So many things a child “must” have today become the garbage of tomorrow.

4.  As much as you love your children, remind them they are not the center of the universe and need to respect the rights of others.

5.  Limit TV or computer time!  Every few minutes a commercial or a pop-up captures a child and tells them they must get this toy NOW!

6.  Teach children to be grateful and appreciative for what they DO have and not upset or envious about what they DON’T HAVE. Point out to them that there are a billion other children around the globe that don’t have a fraction of what they have.

7. Above all, be an example in moderation. If we define ourselves by our possessions rather than who we are or what we do, our children will follow our example.

Paul Schwartz, Ph.D. is a professor of psychology and education at Mount Saint Mary College.

Other articles by Paul Schwartz