Am I Spoiling my Child?

 It’s a really thin line between giving everything your child needs versus everything he wants. And most of the time, we parent from some guilt and tend to overdo it with our kids and end up wondering if they are going to be “spoilt”. Before we get to the nitty gritty, please understand that you cannot spoil an infant/toddler. It’s only past the age of 3-4, that they learn to manipulate our feelings. Here’s how to tread the line between indulgence and spoiling –

1Say “No” when you have to and mean it – No means no. And it doesn’t mean go ask someone else. Living in close proximity to grandparents of kids means that often kids have worked it out that if mom and dad say no, most likely their grandparents are going to indulge them. Set ground rules with extended family that they cannot overrule your authority. This applies to any disciplinary behaviour. Kids ought to know who’s the boss.

2. Do not indulge from a place of guilt – Maybe you’ve been unusually busy at work and hardly gotten to see your child, but don’t buy ridiculous presents to overcompensate. Instead, set some time apart and make plans to give them quality time – taking them to football or the children’s discovery museum and so on. It’s the memories that’ll linger and bring them closer to you, not the things.

3. Avoid apologizing for disappointment – We aim to give our kids anything and everything they desire. But if it does cross your own personal limits, don’t be apologetic about it. For instance, don’t say “I’m sorry you can’t have that toy.” Instead say “That’s an expensive toy. You can start saving for it and we can buy it for your birthday in 3 months.” This will also give your child a sense of perspective and purpose.

4. Stop meltdowns – If your child is one of those tantrum throwers in the toy aisle or supermarkets where he’s demanding something you aren’t willing to buy, it’s time to stop that and your indulgence. Tell him that crying and throwing a tantrum isn’t going to work. Don’t worry about people staring at you. They’ve either not had kids or will be in the same situation soon. Keep your cool. There’s nothing worse than parents who handle a tantrum by looking perplexed, pissed off or lost. Keep calm and in control. Your calmness helps calm the kids faster. It’s important for you to set your boundaries than to care about those judging you. Once children are old enough to understand, restraint is a good quality to have too.

5. Be consistent – Setting and sticking to your boundaries shows that your limits are consistent. And as kids grow, they’ll get it. And ice cream in the day is totally fine, but one bag of M&Ms isn’t. And so on.

Raising a child is a daunting task of multiple dimensions. And it’s as much a cluster of teaching moments for us as it is a learning experience for them. What are your no-fail techniques to not over-indulge your kids?

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