How to Avoid Spoiling Your Kids

Parents playing with child.

They come into the world so little and sweet, and before you know it, your babies are turning into toddlers. Until now, it’s been pretty easy to manage them, but suddenly, they’re little people with minds of their own. You love them, you’d do anything for them, but how do you avoid spoiling them? We’ve got some tips to help you raise kids who are happy, secure, and definitely not spoiled.

  • Set boundaries and stick to them. Being consistent is one of the most important parts of being a parent. Make sure the rules are clear, and use discipline strategies that work for your child. Remember, discipline needn’t be punitive. Try positive disciplinary practices like redirection and positive reinforcement. Expect your children to push your boundaries, it’s a normal part of child development, but resist the urge to cave when they do. It’s important to stick to your limits, or you could end up with a child who second guesses you at every turn. Teach your children that the rules are the rules, no means no, and there are consequences for bad behavior.
  • Assign chores from an early age. Give your little ones age-appropriate chores, like putting away toys, setting the table, and putting plastic dinnerware in the sink. This will encourage your child to think about the needs of others, as well as instilling a sense of responsibility. Make it a rule that chores are done before fun; research indicates that children whose parents are strict about chores are better able to cope with frustration.
  • Encourage good manners. Please and thank you should be some of your child’s first words, and saying thank you should become something your child does reflexively, without prompting. Good table manners, too, help a child become someone people want to be around. Teach your child to share, take turns, and respect the feelings of others, and not to be a sore loser or call names. Be a good example by being polite to the people you encounter in daily life, and teach your children how to write thank you notes to people who do nice things for them or give them gifts.
  • Allow your little one to experience disappointment. Disappointment is a part of life. While it’s tempting to try to protect your child from the negative aspects of life, overprotecting can result in a spoiled child. Whether it’s a canceled playdate or not getting something he or she wants when you’re at the store, learning to face disappointment at an early age will serve your child well in the long run and help to develop coping skills.
  • Foster compassion and a giving spirit. Make it your goal to raise a child who considers the needs of others and is compassionate and generous. Model this behavior by volunteering as a family, donating to charities, and letting your child see you being kind and giving to others. Children who put the needs of others first are less likely to be spoiled.
  • Don’t give too many chances. We’ve all heard parents counting “2 ½ “, “2 ¾ “ before getting to three, and this is something to avoid if you don’t want spoiled kids. Failing to follow through on what you’ve said is going to happen, or dragging it out, can teach your children that they can manipulate you- and other people- to get what they want.
  • Give kids the opportunity to work for what they want. Allow your child to make a case for the things he or she wants. If it’s watching a tv show, your child can explain the chores that have been done or offer to take a nap first. You can also let your children earn material things, like toys, through good behavior. To do this, set up a reward system to make your expectations clear.
  • Don’t negotiate with terrorists… or toddlers. If your children think they can behave badly to get the things they want, they will do it. Don’t offer treats to squelch unpleasant behavior, or your child will expect every tantrum to end with a prize. Similarly, refrain from giving in to begging.
  • Say yes whenever you can. If you’re always saying no, your children might begin to think you say no to everything, and this can lead to them thinking that bad behavior doesn’t matter, since they won’t get what they want anyway. Choose your battles, treat your child with kindness, and reward good behavior.

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