It happens to the best of us. We bear kids and our life’s priorities flip around. We spend every waking moment figuring out ways of enthusing our tots, dancing to their tune. We buy them countless toys, video games, designer clothes, and whatnot.
“My kids will have the best childhood possible on God’s green earth!” we mutter beneath our breath. We want them to savor stuff that we missed out on while growing up. They will never wish for a pricey toy or a sparkly dress and not get it. They never have to lift a finger at home; we have enlisted housekeepers at their beck and call.
Yonks later, the scales fall off our eyes and we see it. We have raised spoiled entitled kids. All our well-intended actions have gone belly up. How do we move from here? Is all lost?
If you think that your child is spoiled, don’t despair. Remember that kids are not born spoiled, they are spoiled by those around them. Granted, unspoiling your child will not happen in a nanosecond, it will take some time. However, with some willpower and consistency, you can reverse the damage.
But first things first, how do you ascertain whether your child is indeed spoiled? Here are habits to look out for:
- Can’t handle being told “No”
- Never satisfied with what they have, always asking for more
- Engage in endless tantrums well past toddler hood
- Rarely show empathy to others
- Don’t take care of their stuff
- Are self-centered and entitled
- Don’t like sharing
- Are sore losers
- Abhor doing even the simplest chores
5 Ways to Unspoil Your Child
Here are five things you can do to abate the damage.
1. Delay their Gratification
Technology has placed nearly everything within sniffing distance. We merely have to swipe or touch a screen and have stuff delivered to our doorsteps. Our kids are growing up in a world of instant gratification and the precious art of patience is ebbing away like smoke in the wind.
Do not respond to all your kids’ whims and demands at the drop of a hat, learn how to delay their gratification. One way of ingraining patience is by encouraging them to save money or earn allowances.
When they desire new items like toys, let them use the money they have either earned or saved. If the money is not enough, let them wait until it adds up. Besides teaching them patience, this also helps them value things.
2. Get Used to Saying “No!”
Spoiled kids have a rough time taking “No” for an answer. They will kick up a fuss until they get what they are demanding.
Oftentimes, parents give in just to quell the tantrum, or when they are downright exhausted with zilch energy to deal with a bickering child. Other times, parents feel guilty turning down their kids’ requests if they haven’t been spending enough time with them.
Get used to telling your child “No.” Swish the word in your mouth and sneak it into your vocabulary. Remember that you are preparing your kids for life. In a world that’s rough around the edges, they need to get accustomed to hearing “No.”
3. Tone Down on Material Rewards
Child experts endorse the use of rewards in reinforcing good behavior. When used thoughtfully, a reward system can steer kids towards the right behavior.
You can for instance allow your child to earn points every time they clinch a milestone they may be struggling with, like making their bed or cleaning up their toys. When they accumulate a given number of points, indulge them by buying them a favorite toy, a book, taking them for a trip to the park, or whatever else they fancy.
There is however a warped way of using rewards. When kids are given material rewards EVERY time they behave, they start getting entitled. Your preschooler may for instance be reluctant to dust the shelves till you promise them some ice cream. Your tween may frown on washing the dishes till you coax them with an extra hour of TV. They adopt an attitude of “what’s in it for me?”
Do not fall into the trap of lavishing material rewards on your kids in exchange for good behavior. Let your kids know that they don’t have to be bribed to behave well.
4. Teach Them Gratitude
Sadly, spoiled kids reek of ingratitude. They couldn’t be bothered to show appreciation for what they have let alone take good care of it. You can however teach them to be grateful using the steps below:
- Explain to them what gratitude is. Let them know that they didn’t earn a lot of what they have. Explain to them the need to appreciate and value it.
- Make a gratitude jar and encourage them to write down the things they are grateful for each day and slip them into the jar. Look for one day during the week and savor the contents of the notes.
- Teach your kids to look for the silver lining in difficult situations. For instance, they may not be able to play outside when it’s raining but they at least get to play indoors while sipping some hot chocolate.
- Model gratitude to them
- Get involved in voluntary or charity work alongside your kids. This will help them put things into perspective.
5. Tether Them to Chores
There are oodles of benefits that kids derive from doing chores. Here are some of them:
- Work ethic
- Healthy self-image
- Successful careers later in life
- Life skills
Ensuring your kids do their chores is an important step in unspoiling them. Besides, you will be doing your kids great injustice if you exclude them from chores. Apart from getting spoiled, they wind up as half-baked adults who find it hard to take life’s hardships in their stride.
Kids get spoiled when well-meaning parents/guardians indulge them excessively and bend over backwards to buffer them from life’s hardships. When they become teenagers, spoiled kids have a rough time exercising self-control and are prone to anxiety and depression.
Thankfully, in the same manner they were spoiled, kids can be unspoiled. To do this, parents need to dig in their heels and steer their kids towards good behavior.