Grandparents ain’t the only ones who want to give their little loved ones every good thing. I constantly find myself wanting to do/buy over the top things for my children. I don’t want to do it because I think material things make for a better childhood, as cheesy as it sounds, I want to do it because my heart swells with some overwhelming emotion where I want to make them the happiest children in the world.
But because I also know disciplined children are by far happier than undisciplined ones, I try to temper my spoiling with character building. If their attitude moves towards stink on the rotten scale, I examine my recent efforts at discipline and make a change.
How do you know your kids are over-ripe-headed towards-rotten? Ask yourself these questions.
Do they expect something special every time you go to the store?
Do they say thank you when you do something special for them?
Do they pout/give you the silent treatment/chuck a tantrum if you say no?
Are they willing to share their toys with their siblings and friends?
You get where I’m going with this. It is actually a disservice to your children to spoil them in a way that leaves them feeling entitled. Better they know the world doesn’t revolve around them now than find it out the hard way with a future spouse or boss.
There are some things you can do to help your kids receive all your special treatment without developing a VIP attitude.
1) Aside from birthdays and Christmas don’t make a habit of giving gifts every time you go on a business trip (if you take them frequently) or go to the store. If a gift becomes expected or they have a “where’s my present?” attitude then dial down the giving. When they act appreciative that’s a sign they are not spoiled rotten.
2) Tell your kids no…a lot. You will seriously regret giving your child everything they believe they want when they want it. Of course you will say you don’t do that, but evaluate your actions throughout the day. Do they get to decide what they eat at every meal? Do they determine when meal time, nap times or play times start and finish? Are your instructions carried out? When you ask them to do something do they comply or do they ignore you or procrastinate? If so, these are sure signs you need to tell your child no on a regular basis. Someone once advised me that it is not good to tell children no. Personally, I believe that is ludicrous. When my child has begun to act fussy and bratty I have evaluated the freedoms I have been giving her. I would then determine where she was becoming wise in her own eyes, and I began to put some boundaries and “no’s” into her day. In a day or two I had my sweet girl back. There is no time like the present to learn that the world does not revolve around them.
3) Guide their actions and habits. Whereas an adult acts based on what they believe, a child simply acts. After they have acted for a while they will then develop their beliefs around your positive or negative reinforcements. Discipline (and by discipline I mean training) helps children understand what is right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable, and just plain naughty. They will rise or lower themselves to your expectations and so you should be looking out for their actions and how you may build their character through this. For example, taking other childrens’ toys (a bullying issue I mentioned here) is a bad habit to get into that will reinforce their faulty belief that they are more important than others. Disciplining this behavior and explaining why it is wrong will help teach them and will curb this egotistical attitude that will become unbearable when teenage years arrive.
In short, character building is the name of the game. Give them all the love, attention and time you have, but know when enough is enough.
PS – Check out more articles on parenting, tips, and discipline advice here!