Let’s be honest. Prior to having kids of your own, whenever you would spot a spoiled child out in the wild, you would raise an eyebrow and silently judge the “unlucky” parent who did not raise that child well. “No one likes a spoiled brat,” we all say, but life has a sarcastic way of spinning things around, and years down the line, some of us find ourselves on the other end of the spectrum. Children end up as such because, obviously, someone spoiled them. The question is, is that “someone” you? Here’s a chance for you to tick off the qualities of a Spoiler.
When you’re too busy to deal with the repercussions of saying “no” to your child, chances are, you’ve become a Spoiler. Giving in to your child’s whims, puppy dog-eye pleas, and tearful requests is indeed the easier option, but they often lead to you losing control over his or her reactions and how your child perceives his or her “powers” over you. There are so many things worth saying “yes” to, but being a Spoiler is a definite no-no.
When you find yourself dreading the next full-scale tantrum, then you have a tendency to become a Spoiler. Being a parent in control means that you know how to deal with the blow-ups. Either you won’t let the tantrum reach screaming-while-lying-down-on-the-floor-at-the-store levels, or you know exactly what to do and what not to do in said situations. A Spoiler would be afraid of moments like this because of the embarrassment on the tail end of a tantrum, but remind yourself that tantrums will pass, but the teaching moment will stay for far longer.
One day, you help your child make D.I.Y.-slime at home. After a few repetitions, you suddenly decide to ban it at home. You make threats like, “If you don’t do as I say, you won’t get candy for a month.”, but when you forget you even said it, you hand out a lollipop absent-mindedly. A lot of us are guilty of this, because some ultimatums are given in the heat of the moment. You can’t set your kid up for wishy-washy ways, because then she will learn to reason against your rules because you don’t follow through with them anyways.
We may not have had the “ideal” happy childhood ourselves, and as is common with young parents these days, we subconsciously or consciously tend to want to give our children everything we never had. That’s when we buy them that full set of Peppa Pig toys, or let them have all the candy they want, even though they neither need it nor deserve it. Seeing joy in our child’s faces does warm the heart, but do not be motivated by all your childhood issues.
No parent wants their kid to get hurt physically or emotionally, and we do try our best to shield them from pain. But they will definitely get hurt, and over-protecting them is also synonymous to spoiling them because you don’t give them the right opportunities to build their character. Giving them a steady stream of just sunshine and rainbows will not prepare them for the inevitable storms.
So, this morning your child woke up and decided to finish his meal. You were so pleased that you don’t have to beg him to finish his breakfast, so you immediately give a sweet treat after. Soon enough, he will come to expect this, but sometimes, rather than repeating the action that led to the reward, they will just demand for the treat even if they did not finish everything on their plate. Rewards are usually given when they actually do something beyond what is expected, but when you give rewards for virtually just being “cute”, it could lay out a precedent for bad behavior down the line.
One of the things we as parents need to teach our children is the virtue of humility. Part of this is learning how to seek forgiveness when you are in the wrong. But if you’re a Spoiler parent, chances are you have the habit of apologizing for your child’s wrong behavior. If they push someone in the jungle gym, teach them the merits of saying “sorry”. Don’t jump right in and apologize on their behalf because you might mean it out of embarrassment, but your child certainly did not even think of doing it.
If you’re a Spoiler, then you certainly aren’t the boss of your child. Parents are the child’s partners in growing up, and they are not supposed to dictate the adult, especially at such an early age. When you find yourself wishing you can eat at a restaurant you’ve heard your mommy friends rave about but can’t, just because your kid prefers the usual fast food, there’s something wrong with the picture. Giving way and giving in at times in order to make them smile has its good points, but remember that you are the adult in your relationship, and you have the control.