I’ll never forget a playdate my daughter had at a friend’s house when she was in the first grade. At the end of the playdate, as we were saying goodbye, the other little girl was holding a container filled with plastic beads. Her mom suggested she share some with my daughter. “No!” the little girl said. The mother gently pleaded, “Oh, come on sweetheart, share some of your beads.” The little girl again replied, “No!”
At that point, I stepped in and said it was OK, that we didn’t need any of the beads. That could’ve been an isolated incident, and maybe the mom didn’t want to get too firm because she didn’t want to embarrass her child. We’ve all been there! But we don’t want to make a habit of letting that happen because it could lead to spoiled kids. And while spoiled might sound like an old-fashioned word, it really just means children who feel entitled to get what they want when they want it, even if it means being disrespectful and disobedient. If you want to avoid having spoiled kids, then stay away from these 7 habits.
1. Pick up after your kids instead of letting them clean up their own messes.
Sometimes it’s just easier to clean up your children’s messes rather than instructing them how to do it for themselves. It’s hard, but resist the temptation. Instead, set aside enough clean-up time after playtime so you don’t feel rushed. Then give each child one task at a time until everything is put in its place so they do not become overwhelmed. Let them know if they don’t clean up, there will be consequences.You have to let your child know what role you both play. As the parent, you must take charge.
2. Let them boss you around and talk disrespectfully to you.
Spoiled kids can be master manipulators. They use words to induce guilt and to control their parents. As soon as this begins to happen, make sure you put your foot down. You have to let your child know what role you both play. As the parent, you must take charge.
3. Give them everything they want—even if it’s not good for them.
Limits are absolutely necessary for everyone. Your child may not like them, but they are in his or her best interest. Parents must work as a team to draw limits for their children. There should be limits on what they wear, the movies they watch, the video games they play, the food they eat (the stuff you determine is not good for them), the music they listen to, and even the friends they should have. As your children get older, the limits can be extended in certain areas, but until then, parents must enforce the limits or else limits merely become suggestions.
4. Let them drop out instead of sticking it out.
When your child asks to quit an activity or sport, make sure you know his or her motive. Perhaps there is a good reason for the decision, but if children simply don’t feel like putting forth the effort, they should not be allowed to quit. Many studies show that extracurricular activities help children learn valuable lessons or skills and can also help them academically.
5. Excuse their rude or bad behavior as just “kids being kids.”
Since when did being a “kid” mean you can be rude, disrespectful, or careless in your actions? Age does at times go hand-in-hand with certain actions, especially when dealing with developmental behavior, such as crawling and toddlers. However, age should never be a blanket excuse for patterns of disrespect or disobedience.
6. Don’t follow through on discipline.
When we ease off of an agreed-upon punishment or scrap it altogether, we are communicating to our child that our words don’t mean much. So when you tell your child, “If you don’t stop that right now, you’ll go to your room,” follow through.
7. Do everything for them.
As your children grow up, they should become increasingly self-sufficient. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way, especially if they’re used to you doing everything for them. Little by little, start to reinforce your child’s independence and self-sufficiency by limiting the things you do for them. Teach them how to do those things and increase their responsibilities around the home. If they don’t want to comply, limit the time they spend on the computer or watching TV. “He who does not work does not eat” is a good rule to live by in a family.
Sound off: What are a few other ways we shouldn’t spoil our kids?