Tips & Resources

How to Avoid Spoiling Your Child:

Sometimes it's hard for parents to know how to walk that thin line between being too permissive and too authoritarian. Especially for those of us who had parents who were overly strict, we may go to the other extreme by being too indulgent with our kids.

Many parents give in too easily because they don't want to see their children upset or unhappy. Grandparents can get away with overindulging their grandchildren, but you can't-because part of the job description of a caring, effective parent is to set reasonable limits. But it takes skill and practice to avoid giving in, especially when kids try to get us to turn "no" into "yes" by whining, having tantrums or telling us how mean or unfair we are. Here are some suggestions to avoid spoiling your child:When you have to say no, mean it. Say it firmly without a question mark in your voice. It's not always easy to stick to your guns, but it's your job! Children won't thank you for it either. They may even tell you they hate you, so don't take it personally.

Be willing to be unpopular with your kids.* Give yourself permission to say no and give them permission to be angry and upset with you. Don't allow your child to decide what is acceptable and what isn't.

Have clear rules, especially about safety or the values of your home. But don't have too many. Choose your battles and don't sweat the small stuff. Before you make a big fuss over something, ask yourself, "will this matter a week from now?" Some parents in my workshops find it helpful to make a list of the non-negotiable rules in their house, and to post it on the refrigerator as a visual reminder.

Try not to make impulsive threats or bribes. When we're furious, exhausted or stressed out, we sometimes make threats that we're not likely to carry out. When you feel like you're about to lose your cool, try taking an adult time out.

Shower your children with time, not material things. Most kids have too many toys, anyway. Remember that the best gifts you can give your children are those occasional moments of your undivided attention.

*For a more in-depth look at how to avoid spoiling your child, please refer to Chapter 3 in my first book, LOVING YOUR CHILD IS NOT ENOUGH and in my newest book, LOVING WITHOUT SPOILING.

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