Baby Center’s latest report advices mothers the ways to avoid spoiling their kids. It starts by instructing mothers to set clear rules for how you want your child to behave and be consistent about enforcing them. Help him learn to take some responsibility for his actions and his things.
You won’t spoil your child by giving him too much of your time or affection. In fact, if he feels loved and appreciated, it’ll be easier for you to discipline him. That’s because he’s more likely to trust your guidance if he’s feeling happy and secure.
You can also show him that respect is an important part of any relationship by listening to him when he talks calmly, and always taking his feelings into consideration.
Should I give my child chores to do?
Giving your child simple chores introduces him to the idea of taking responsibility. He’ll learn that cooperation is important, and that he can feel good about himself by helping others.
As well as setting tasks that he can do on his own, such as putting his shoes in the cupboard, you can involve him in the chores that you do around the house.
You may find that he loves passing you wet clothes from the basket and watching as you hang them on the line! Thank him when he does his chores well, and tell him how helpful he’s being.
How often should I give my child presents?
Try to limit big presents to special occasions such as birthdays and Christmas. Although it’s fine to buy your child a treat now and then, there’s no need for a treat on each outing.
If your child expects treats all the time, he won’t appreciate them as much. And if he’s used to getting a lot of gifts from you, he may act ungratefully when someone else gives him something.
When you do give your child a present, encourage him to say a polite “thank you”, and to look after it carefully. Try to avoid bribing him with promises of what you’ll buy him if he tidies his room, but it won’t hurt to get him an occasional treat as a reward for good behaviour, or for being especially helpful.
If there’s a particular toy he wants, you could set up a star chart so that he can earn it through good behaviour. It’ll mean more to him to know that he worked hard to achieve it, and he may take better care of it if he knows that he had to put effort into getting it.
How do I know whether to say “yes”?
If you’re not sure whether to say “yes” to something, ask your child why he thinks it’s a good idea. If he really wants screen time and explains that he’s tidied all his toys, you can feel more comfortable saying “yes”.
This also helps him to develop his ability to think independently and understand that good behaviour pays off.
If there’s no reason not to allow your child something, go ahead! Does it really matter if he jumps in a puddle on his way home from nursery, or wants to wear his pyjamas to playgroup? Picking your battles may make it easier to stick to a “no” when it’s more important, such as when he begs for a toy that you really can’t afford.
How can I stop giving in?
When your child asks for a second biscuit after you’ve told him he can only have one, it’s tempting to give in just to make him happy. After all, what harm can one biscuit do?
However, giving in can make your child think that he’ll always be able to win you over. This may lead to arguing, tantrums, and whining.
So try not to give in, but be compassionate and acknowledge your child’s feelings: “I know you really want another biscuit, but we agreed that you could only have one. I’m sorry that you can’t have another now.”
What makes your child happy in the short term may not be good for him later on. So remind yourself why you’re standing your ground, and let your child know, too: “I know you want to eat all your Easter eggs now. But if I let you do that, you’d feel sick later on, and we wouldn’t be able to go to the park.”
How can I help my child deal with disappointment?
It’s difficult to see your child feeling upset when he doesn’t get something he wants, and it’s natural to want to make him happy. But it’s important that he learns to deal with feeling disappointed occasionally.
So when he cries over not getting a toy when you’re out shopping, offer your sympathy, and let him know that his feelings of disappointment won’t last forever. Then try to distract him, for example, by chatting about what you can do together when you get home.
When you do have to say “no” to your child, give a reason for your decision so that he doesn’t feel that you’re controlling him for the sake of it. Also, bear in mind that he may become overwhelmed when he feels unpleasant emotions, so he may still throw a tantrum when things don’t go his way.