It's hard to not love your kid and want to be good to him or her or them (if you've got more than one), but sometimes it's easier to spoil our kids than we realize. When you're the one doing the parenting, it's hard to look outside of yourself and analyze your actions from time to time. Have you had people or family members say your kid is a brat? Do you think your kid is a brat? Sometimes? Every child is bratty on occasion, but if you spoil a child too much, you end up with a Veruca straight out of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, and we all know what happened to her! Before your kid gets drowned in a sea of chocolate or falls into a garbage chute, decide if your child is too spoiled, and then what happens next? As a former teacher, it was easy to see which kids were doted on at home and facing a cold, harsh reality in real life, but it was hard to change anything without the parents' help. Don't be immune to admitting you've gone wrong with the spoiling. The later you start to change, the harder it is to see results with your child, but it's better late than never!
When you tell your child you're going on a special trip or going out for a special treat, does your child seem barely enthused? Your kid may be too spoiled and taking these things for granted because he or she gets them too often!
- No Please, No Thank You
Does your child forget to use common manners? Not only is he or she rude but also spoiled (most likely).
- Demands Things, Doesn't Ask
If your child demands things but doesn't ask, chances are you've got yourself not a Shopkins but a bratkins!
- Instant Tears
Does the word "no" send your child into tears? If you answered yes and your child is of a certain age, it's a bad sign, but the most telling sign of all is if you give in to your child (or not). If you don't, good for you, Mama! The tears are simply a test to see if you'll cave. If you do give in, it's time to brace yourself for some serious parenting changes. Life won't give your kid sunshine if he or she cries all the time, and we all know that!
- Guilt Factor
Does your older child use the guilt card because you work, are divorced, don't have as much money as his friends, or are stricter than his friends' parents?
Your bratty child will use guilt to get what he wants, and it works, but only with you. Not with the rest of the world.
If you're working, don't feel guilty. Bills need to be paid. You have the right to a career. Kids with working moms are just as successful as kids with stay-at-home moms. You're not ruining them for life, Mommy!
Are you divorced? If you answered yes, sure it stinks for the kids, but spoiling them won't help them adjust to divorce and life any faster. You didn't ruin their world. You simply changed it. Be a consistent and present parent and ask your ex to be as well, and that's all your child needs in addition to a lot of love and understanding.
Disabled or ill? It's hard to not feel guilty when our kids struggle either developmentally, emotionally, or physically, but spoiling them won't make life easier. It will make it harder. Teach your child to accept and love him or herself and work hard for what he or she believes in. That will go further than excessive gifts any day!
Your spoiled child may not want to join in or participate because he or she believes certain things or activities aren't good or exciting enough. This type of attitude comes from the parents, so if your child is like this, look at yourself and your beliefs about entitlement. An attitude adjustment is in order for all.
The spoiled child lacks gratitude for little and big favors done for him or her by family or friends. Note this. Gratitude should be taught early on in childhood.
If your child is rude to people in his or her everyday life, look at yourself and your partner for a clue that perhaps you may be rude and your child might be spoiled.
We're human. We mess up. If you think your child is spoiled, it's time to try some new parenting strategies, but expect a lot of resistance at first, especially if your child is older as he or she has gotten used to being a dictator of sorts.
- Saying no and when asked again, reply, "asked and answered."
- Ignoring temper tantrums.
- Asking older children to volunteer whether with an organization or a neighbor; if resistant, remove privileges until they get the point.
- Reward charts: reward your child when he or she shows kindness and gratitude and nothing else for a period of a month. Chart daily behavior — kind, not kind, improving.
- Chore chart: teaching children to value hard work is good for any and all kids. Limit rewards — no one pays you to do dishes, right? Reward spontaneously without expectation.
- Catch your child being good. If she or he is being good, praise and reward.
- At the end of each day, have your child count his or her blessings. Literally. On paper. Out loud.
- Ask teachers and your pediatrician for tips on behavior modification.
- Don't feel bad about saying no: you would rather your kids make mistakes when they are little and the prices are low than when they are older and the prices are high!
It's never too late to change your parenting strategy. We all mess up — the point is to admit it and move forward!
Product Credit: Left - Zara t-shirt, Everlane sweatshirt, Gap shorts, Zara sneakers / Right - Crewcuts t-shirt, Tommy Hilfiger shorts, Vans shoes