Can You “Unspoil” Your Kid?

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People aren’t usually huge fans of spoiled kids. And it’s safe to say that no parent ever intentionally spoils a child. However, intentional or not, every generation of every society produces spoiled children.

How are parents messing it up?

The parenting methods you adopt determine whether or not your child will be a spoiled brat. In a rapidly changing society, both parents and children are influenced by the norms that lead to overindulgence and pampering, which eventually spoil the child. Parents give excessive attention and care at first, and then stop paying enough attention even to the child’s positive behaviors. At such times, the child may believe that negative or bratty behavior is the only way to get the parent’s attention.

Their tendency to be aggressive, ill-mannered, demanding, bad-tempered, whiny and irritable sets spoiled brats apart from other children. It is no hidden fact that parents and teachers are cautious and careful when dealing with spoiled children, because they may influence their peers.

According to an opinion poll, 76 percent of participants agree that today’s kids are spoiled. In a research conducted by Dan Kindlon, 88 percent of parents are under the impression that their kids are at least somewhat spoiled. In a poll set up by a parenting magazine, 42 percent of the readers admitted that their child is spoiled, and 80 percent of them think that spoiling children can have negative impacts in the long run.

What are the effects of spoiling children?

According to psychologist Alfred Adler, pampering and spoiling may be the most severe limitation to a child’s development. He considered it a form of child neglect. Pampering children denies them the necessary opportunities to develop and learn essential life lessons. He also stressed that pampering children could lead to the development of an attitude that demands to be treated more importantly. Spoiled kids may feel entitled and superior over others. Such a viewpoint can negatively impact their social skills: other children may reject spoiled children and exclude them in different social settings.

What can you do to unspoil a child?

With a lot of effort, the right approach, and drastic changes it’s possible to “unspoil” a child. However, according to Alan E. Kazdin, Professor of Psychology and Child Psychiatry at Yale University and Director of the Yale Parenting Center, punishment should not be used to unspoil the child. Using corporal punishment on children is ineffective and can have adverse effects on the child. He stresses his belief that punishment fosters aggression and unpleasant feelings in the child. He also believes punishment does not bring about any positive changes.

A spoiled child’s behavior is difficult to reverse. After all, it is a product of continuous exposure to limitless tolerance and condonation. Richard Bromfield Ph.D., a psychologist at Harvard Medical School, suggests that parents may be perplexed and have no clue about how to deal with their uncontrollable, overindulged kids. Most parents just give in to the child’s demands out of frustration, continuing the cycle of unhealthy pampering.

That can end when you break the habit of giving in to your child’s misbehavior.

Parenting Tips to Correct Entitlement

Maintain your stance.

Be gentle, yet firm while giving your child concise instructions. Do not take the easy way out: do not back down and give in to their whining and complaints. Threats, especially empty ones, will only encourage your child to misbehave or disobey. Stick to your resolution to help your child change for the better. Remember that you are doing this for his or her own good.

Make ground rules at home and abide by them.

Implement the method of authoritative parenting and create a strong family foundation based on rules that apply to everyone. This style of parenting follows the rule that everyone should treat each other with respect. Partiality is toxic and regressive for everyone in the family. If you find your child misbehaving or disobeying, do not quietly condone it or compromise your rules to accommodate his or her disorderly conduct. Make sure that the children experience the consequences to their actions, good or bad.

Reinforce model behavior.

Professor Kazdin suggests the use of mild punishment if things go too far. A brief time-out is perfect to point out your kid’s fault, as well as suggesting a more acceptable behavior. When your child exhibits acceptable behavior, reinforce it with praise and acknowledgment. When you see other children displaying a desirable behavior, point it out to your child gently. Do not make it sound like you are comparing your kid with others.

Teach your child to be empathetic.

Empathy is crucial for a child’s developmental growth. Try to make your child understand how he or she would feel if he or she was on the receiving end of ill-manners and treatment. Encouraging empathy through stories will help your child to acquire a moral identity and engage in moral actions.

Avoid giving too many material gifts.

While it is essential to provide the kids with what they need, giving them whatever they want – especially gadgets and the like – only encourages an entitled attitude. It also severely injures your child’s values. If you continue to overindulge your child materially, he or she might be unable to appreciate what he or she has. Not getting what they want immediately will also teach your child to be patient.

Let your kid play and develop social interest.

Instead of driving your kid toward a goal-oriented road, take it easy with him or her. Time with his or her peers will teach your kid the social skills that will be beneficial for psychological growth. Every kid needs a place to belong and feel significant, and the social circle will be able to provide that for your child. Instead of solely focusing on himself or herself, your kid will learn to take an interest in others too.

Assign tasks to your kids to make them feel responsible.

Children feel valued and needed when they contribute to the family. Oversee their duties and instruct them patiently. This kind of attention is healthy for your child, and it forges a strong, intimate bond between you and your children. Moreover, doing chores inside the house will prevent children from feeling entitled and superior. He or she will also learn how to be responsible while at the same time developing life skills.

Encourage independent behavior.

Refrain from doing anything for your child that he or she can do by himself or herself. You must also avoid being overprotective of your child. It is imperative to watch from the sidelines, instead of immediately rescuing him or her in times of trouble. Encourage him or her along the way to fight their own battles, while keeping in mind their developmental stage and level of awareness. Start teaching your child early, but do not lose your cool when he or she makes mistakes.

Communicate with your child.

According to research, an open parent-to-child line of communication is key to building a stable relationship. A stable relationship between you and your child is beneficial for your child’s character development. A qualitative interaction enables you to give advice and talk about values without sounding preachy.

Remember that transforming a spoiled brat into a responsible young adult is not easy, and takes time. Keep an open mind, don’t lose focus, and (most importantly) be patient.

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