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How to Recognize and Reform a Spoiled Child

It is not always easy to set limitations, boundaries and responsibilities for our children. In addition, following through with consequences takes a considerable amount of effort and determination. It is much easier to give in to their every desire, avoiding struggles and disappointment. However, if we sow the seeds of permissive parenting we will reap self-centered, demanding, and irresponsible children. If you fear your child is becoming spoiled, all is not lost! There are ways in which a spoiled child can be reformed!

How can I tell if my child is spoiled?

  • He is self-centered and believes his wants are the only ones that matter.
  • Is very hard to satisfy, is rude and generally no fun to be around.
  • Has little or no respect for rules, refuses to compromise, and argues incessantly.
  • Is still throwing temper tantrums after he reaches school age.
  • Makes unreasonable demands and attempts to control others.
  • Constantly complains of being bored.
  • Does not understand the concept of hard work.

Keep in mind there are many children who exhibit these behaviors as a result of ADHD. However, a diagnosis of ADHD also involves problems with attention span, the inability to follow directions, and oftentimes, hyperactivity. If you have any doubts about the nature of your child’s behavior please consult your pediatrician for an evaluation.

How can I reform a spoiled child?

  • After he has matured beyond the ‘terrible twos’, the selfish demanding behaviors characteristic of this developmental stage, should begin to subside. If they continue, sit down with him to explain there needs to be changes and what he can expect in the future.
  • Set age appropriate limits on behavior and stick to them! Do not allow temper tantrums to manipulate you. You are the parent so you are in charge!
  • Allow him some choices when appropriate such as which cereal he wants, what book to read or what to wear. Help him to understand where he has and does not have choices.
  • Know there are some rules that involve his safety which leave no room for compromise. He must stay in his car seat; he must hold your hand in busy areas, no hitting, and no destruction of property,
  • Expect him to protest. No child who has been given too much power is going to want to relinquish it without a fight. Clearly understand the difference between his wants and his needs. He needs food, clothing, comfort, protection, and love. He wants the latest fashion fad or the newest gaming system.
  • Be a good role model. Allow your child to see you making informed choices that involve sacrifice, patience, and self-control. For example, when you are out shopping demonstrate selflessness by saying things like,“I am going to put this CD back so we can get Grandma these flowers. She’s not feeling well.”
  • Don’t be too overprotective. Support him during struggles and adversity but do no more for him than is necessary. Learning to handle situations himself will build self-confidence and coping skills. Teach him to be patient. Waiting will help him learn to deal with frustration. Delaying immediate gratification is something he will learn gradually, and takes practice. It is not unreasonable that he be required to wait a few minutes now and then (for example, when you are on the phone or talking with others in person).
  • Don’t over praise. Giving him constant praise and attention can make him praise-dependent and demanding. Encourage him when he tries new things and accomplishes difficult tasks.
  • Teach him to respect the rights of adults. After his essential needs have been met, his wishes should come after your needs are met. It is healthy both physically and mentally that you take time away from your child and spend it engaging in enjoyable activities with your spouse and friends. Learning to respect your rights helps him to respect the rights of other adults.

Remember, loving your child does not mean you have to spoil him. Show him you love him by raising him to be a competent, self-reliant, and caring human being. Give him lots of hugs and kisses and “I love you’s.”

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