Creating Un-Spoiled Children

By: Lori Radun

Have you ever wondered if your children are spoiled?? I know I have.? I was so curious one day that I looked up the definition of a spoiled child on the internet.? According to B.D. Schmitt, M.D., author of “Your Child’s Health", he says “a spoiled child is undisciplined, manipulative, and unpleasant to be with much of the time.? He behaves in many of the following ways by the time he is two or three years old:

  • Doesn’t follow rules or cooperate with suggestions
  • Doesn’t respond to “no", “stop", or other commands
  • Protests everything
  • Doesn’t know the difference between his needs and his wishes
  • Insists on having his own way
  • Makes unfair or excessive demands on others
  • Doesn’t respect other people’s rights
  • Tries to control people
  • Has a low tolerance for frustration
  • Frequently whines or throws tantrums
  • Constantly complains about being bored

When I looked at this list, I couldn’t help but notice that my kids sometimes display some of these behaviors.? Admittedly, I was embarrassed that my children were spoiled.? Spoiling our children isn’t hard to do and can happen almost accidentally.? As moms, it’s important to us that our children are loved and taken care of so we do as much as we can for them.? We want the best for them, and often protect them from unwanted pain.? In a society where material things are valued, it can be difficult to avoid overindulging our children with the niceties of this world.? We say yes whenever we can, often to keep from disappointing our children.? When we’re tired, we give into the persistence our children use to wear us down.? These behaviors reinforce exactly what we do not want – spoiled children.

So how do we avoid spoiling our children or undoing what we may have already started?? You can use “attitude jars" to build character and reinforce positive attitudes.? Fill one jar with glass stones and marbles.? Prominently display on the outside of the jar the famous saying “Attitudes are contagious.? Is yours worth catching?"? Next to this jar, place one empty jar or glass bowl for every child that you have.? On the outside of each child’s jar, place a sticker that says “Noah (or child’s name) has a great attitude".? Every time your child displays any of the ten “great attitude" behaviors, he earns a glass stone.? This will not only help you notice the positive behaviors, but will also teach your child what constitutes a great attitude.? If your child demonstrates a “spoiled attitude" (opposite of great attitude behaviors), he or she loses a stone.? When your child reaches one hundred stones, or whatever number you choose, celebrate his success with a special treat from a rewards list.? Use rewards that motivate your children to be successful.

“Great Attitude" Behaviors

Follows rules.? Do you have a set of house rules that you expect your children to abide by?? Maybe one rule is “No jumping on furniture."? Or perhaps you expect your teenager to be home by curfew.? When they follow the house rules, your children are demonstrating a great attitude.

Handles “No" gracefully.? Get in the habit of saying no when you need to and help your children gracefully accept your decision.? Handling no gracefully means they say “Okay Mom" without protests, whining or tantrums.

Listens and obeys parents and authority figures.? If you ask your child to do something and they do it immediately, he or she earns a stone.? Respect for authority is a sign of a healthy attitude.

Shows patience when asked to wait.? There are many times our children need to learn to wait.? Sometimes we are on the phone or in the middle of doing something else.? Exercising patience is an important skill for children to learn, and should be recognized as a “great attitude" behavior.

Expresses anger using respectful words.? Tantrums are not an appropriate way to express anger, especially if the child is old enough to use his words.? Yelling and screaming, name calling or other disrespectful behaviors should not be rewarded.? Encourage your child to calm down and use respectful words to express her frustration.

Treats family members with respect.? It’s never okay to make fun of our family members, take belongings from their room, or physically harm them in any way.? Teach your children to encourage their siblings, respect each other’s personal property and handle disagreements in healthy ways.?

Shares family responsibility.? It takes a lot to run a household and moms need help.? If your child helps out by picking up his toys, carrying in the groceries or setting the table, praise your child for sharing in family responsibilities.? A helpful person is always a joy to be around.

Thinks positively.? Have you ever heard your child say “It’s going to take forever" or “I never get to do anything"?? These are not positive statements and negative thinkers do not have great attitudes.? Help your child recognize her negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones instead.

Thinks of other people.? A spoiled child thinks of himself – he believes the world is centered on him.? We need to help our children understand that it’s important to think about other people and what they need or want.? Give your child a glass stone when she shows interest in another person, or is able to compromise her needs for the needs of others.

Family and child counselor, Audrey Wise, defines a spoiled child as “parents who are overprotective and all-giving".? The problem has nothing to do with the child, but everything to do with our parenting.? It is up to us to create un-spoiled children.? While it may take some hard work and consistency, the reward is worth it.? Our children will be a delight to be around, and we will instill character in our children that will last a lifetime and be passed on to future generations.

Kids and Teens
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