There was once a party we went to, where there were games for kids and prizes for winners. There was a little boy around 5 or 6, sitting on his mother’s lap, who was fidgeting and fussing throughout. He refused to participate in any of the games, despite being invited several times. And when the prizes were being given out, he made a tantrum demanding one. The poor, exasperated Mom was at her wit’s end, and seemed so embarrassed that everyone felt sorry for her.
Now that little boy was probably just having a bad day, but we do know kids who act like that all the time, and this kind of chronic ‘bad day’ behavior constitutes a spoiled child.
Wikipedia defines a spoiled child as one who ‘exhibits behavioral problems from overindulgence by his or her parents’. They aren’t hard to identify; they’re often rude to adults and kids alike, are insensitive, demanding, and rarely help others – at home or outside.
Considering that most of us live in nuclear families nowadays and many have just one kid, the “spoiled child” phenomenon is on the rise. Sometimes parents don’t even realize when their pink little cherub turned into this whiny, greedy tantrum machine. Letting this behavior continue can cause serious issues in adult life such as materialism, disrespect for authority, relationship issues and increasing feelings of discontent.
Scared? Don’t be!! It’s never too late to start ‘unspoiling’ a child. The main thing is to identify the problem and start acting immediately. Here are a few pointers to help you along the way.
8 Ways to Unspoil Your Child
1. Set Routines – A set routine everyday inculcates a sense of security in a child. Ensure his routine has adequate sleep, snacks and meals. Avoid excess sugar and junk food. Also include age appropriate chores for children.
2. Ignore tantrums – Don’t bother with excessive pleas or with yells. Just ignore them with a firm stance. Implement a ‘No tolerance’ policy for violence.
3. Set Consequences – Most parents give out threats that are rarely followed through and our kids know that very well. Tell them there’ll be appropriate punishment for their actions and be sure to carry them out. Cancellation of privileges works best with us. Having implemented ‘No TV’ twice in a row, Cub knows that when we say it, we mean it. But be consistent – don’t give in to tearful wails (“Pleeeaaase Mommyyyyy!”) or accusations (“I hate you!!! You don’t love me!!”)
4. Reinforce politeness – Keep reminding kids and use a positive enforcement system like a chart with smiley faces or stars for every good act. Reward them at the end of the week with a visit to a library/park.
5. Curb Materialism – You don’t have to be a stinger, but do kids really need branded clothes at this age? For one thing they outgrow them very quickly and it starts making them slaves to brands way too early. Tread the middle path when it comes to shopping. Also think about giving pocket-money to your child and making them pay for extravagances from it helps them in understanding the value of money.
6. Use pretend play – Using pretend real life situations during play can help them get used to appropriate behavior and manners. Doing this often will make the please-thank you-sorry habit become second nature.
7. Inculcate the giving habit – Explain the working of various NGOs in the country in a simple way and let them know how the amount they spend on a toy set could buy a year’s school books for another child. It’ll help put things in perspective, especially for older kids.
8. Check iron levels – Anemia or Iron deficiency is known to cause bad behavior in some kids. So do get their iron levels checked so you can take supplements if needed.
9. Look in the mirror – Yes, you have to look at yourself to check if you’re modeling the right behavior to your kids. Remember, doing all the above won’t matter if you’re prone to temper tantrums and consumerism yourself.
And if these aren’t enough, here are some books for added support:
This book is a rhymed story about a rabbit who whines all the time. He ends up with the Whimper-Whineys and gets a taste of his own medicine. A fun read for all ages.
The title is self-explanatory and explains why kids should listen and the consequences of doing otherwise.
A lovely book about happiness habits for kids. A gentle way to teach kids to be considerate by understanding how their words and actions affect others.
Closer home we have the Pepper series, in which many books are about Pepper throwing tantrums and then being set straight by his parents. In Pepper wants too many toys, a common situation that is kids throwing tantrums in malls for buying new toys is tackled.
Remember to go slow with your course of action and also remember that you’ll need an immense amount of patience, especially in the beginning. The older your child, the longer & more steep this journey will be, but it’ll be worth it. Stick to it and don’t give up. Remember, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men” – Frederick Douglas.
This post is by Fabida Abdulla, the regular contributor to The Mom Views and blogger at Shocks and Shoes. Fab writes about parenting, baking, shopping and all the little joys in life.