The spoilt child
We know that parents have many different parenting styles, which are influenced by many different things. Certain parents adopt a style of parenting that is called a permissive parenting style. Parents using this style allow their children to freely express themselves and do not enforce clear rules on acceptable or otherwise behaviour. They often accept or ignore bad behaviour and make few demands on their children for mature, independent, behaviour. This is reflected in households where there are few rules and limits and children are allowed to act and behave how they please. Parents may take this approach for a number of reasons.
There is no doubt it is easier to give in to a screaming child than to stand your ground and refuse that extra bar of chocolate, etc. For some parents making that stand is very difficult and because they were unable to do it when their child was small, it gets more difficult as their child gets older and so a cycle begins.
Other parents may think that they will damage their child if they are too strict — perhaps they grew up in a family that was extremely strict and they are reacting to this by making sure their child does not experience childhood as they did. However in their determination not to be too strict with their child they may be going too far the other way by not being strict at all and by setting too few and inconsistent rules.
There are also the parents who are over anxious about their child’s well-being and feels that the only people who can really take care of their child is themselves. They do not trust the childminder, childcare workers, teachers, etc, to do their job. They continually find fault with what they do with their child. They also find it difficult to expose their child to the ups, and particularly downs, that are a natural part of children’s relationships. They become involved too quickly in situations to ‘protect’ their child from this big bad world.
And there are those parents who overindulge their children because they feel guilty that they are not spending as much time with them as they would like to or can afford to because of other commitments. To make up for spending this time away they may shower their children with gifts or may put up with bad behaviour — not wanting to get into fights or arguments when they are together. Things, however, just cannot replace attention. If children do not get the attention they need they do not develop a sense of their worth. So even though they may be showered with gifts and material possessions, their self-esteem might be shrinking as their stack of toys grow.
Implications of being spoilt
The whole issue of spoiling children is a very serious one as it does have very serious implications for the children concerned. Research suggests that these children are more likely to experience problems in many areas of their lives.
They tend to be immature and find it very difficult to cope with stress.
They find it difficult to get on with others, as they tend to demand that others do as they say and find it difficult to be flexible when it comes to the give and take of friendships.
They are often unmotivated at school and may not be achievement orientated.
For many of us the natural tendency is to indulge our children — we all want them to have a great childhood and have treasured memories of that childhood. And of course it is important that children do get special gifts and have treats, but remember what makes these treats all the more special is the fact that they do not happen every day.
There are many benefits that flow from avoiding the trap of being an overindulgent parent — it can be a very difficult route in the early days of tantrums and demands. Standing up to a distraught toddler can be a nightmare, but those parents who do manage to set clear limits early on in their child’s life are more likely to find the whole area of discipline much easier in the long run. And from the child’s point of view being spoilt is not a picnic — the happiest children in the playground are not the ones who are used to always getting their own way.
Even though it may be easier to give in now, by doing so, you may be unconsciously adding to potential difficulties for you and your child later on.
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