Nobody wants to have a spoiled child. In general, this happens when parents give the child everything he wants, do not insist that he fulfill his obligations and give in to any crying to avoid burnout. Although it sounds difficult, it is relatively easy to reverse this conditioning; it is necessary to teach the child to be grateful for what he has, to behave and achieve the things he wants, instead of getting them with a kiss. Break this cycle by being the adult in the relationship and teach your children to be responsible and grateful.
Part 1 of 3: Breaking the Cycle
Step 1. Realize if your child is spoiled
Does he throw a tantrum or is he mean to get what he wants? Does he ask please and thank you when he gets something? Is it common for him to stand behind you all day, insisting on things you've denied, or does he behave like he's entitled to them? All these signs indicate that he is spoiled.
Step 2. Notice how you contribute to this behavior
There are many ways to get into this situation:
- Are you afraid to say no to your child? Why? When you deny something, what happens?
- Do you give in in situations where you should have a steady hand?
- When you make a rule and your child reacts negatively, do you go back?
- Is it normal for you to buy out-of-season gifts and things he doesn't need? Is he used to this routine?
- If the answer is “yes” to all of these questions, you have actively contributed to this behavior. Your child has learned that you are afraid to say no, that you make too many exceptions to the rules, and now you feel that you don't have to earn the things you want, or even behave.
Step 3. Break the cycle of saying “yes” when you need to say “no”
Although this is simple, it is not easy to get rid of this habit, as it is much more convenient to give the child what he wants to stop the tantrum. However, this way she learns that she is the boss and not you.
- Get ready for the big commotion that the first “no's” will cause. This is normal, but you must remember that giving in will make this behavior worse and worse.
- The truth is, your child will get used to it. It's a fact of anyone's life, you can't have it all. Not teaching it now will make his adult life difficult.
- When you deny something, don't be explaining yourself. You are the boss and there is nothing wrong with giving a succinct answer. Your child will think you're trying to convince him of something when you're not actually negotiating.
- For example, explaining in detail why ice cream is not dinner will not convince you to give up on the idea. Better not even try.
- Having conviction in your decisions is what will make him respect what you have to say.
Step 4. Tune in with your child
This can be especially difficult for parents who work outside the home and it is important to know what rules and routines are imposed by the child's caregivers. A relationship with little personal contact, no healthy boundaries and established roles makes education difficult; resolving these issues is critical to re-educating you.
- You will have to work with caregivers if they don't set any standards when they are with your children. You hired them to be the authority in your absence; it will take more work on their part, but you don't want to leave your children in the care of lazy or neglectful people.
- This should also be noted during your presence. Do you know what your child does when he is alone in his room? Do you check it out once in a while? Does he have a TV and a video game all to himself? Does he have unrestricted access to video games and the internet? It might be better to leave these electronics in the living room.
- Does your child play with friends on the street without your permission? If the answer is “yes”, you should change this as soon as possible, as in addition to showing that he does not respect your authority, it can be very dangerous for a child to play in the street alone without parental consent. As a parent, you need to know where your child is at all times.
Step 5. Adopt smart negotiation
When your child asks for something, ask him to do something for you first; if he wants to play at the neighbor's house, don't let him go for free, ask him to tidy up the room, do the dishes or take out the garbage first.
Step 6. Family time should be a priority
Parents feel guilty about not having time for their children and end up giving them everything they want to make it up to them. There are many factors that impede this interaction: parents' work, school, football school, English courses, social life… sometimes not even having dinner with the family is possible.
Make room in your child's calendar. Spend time together, share meals, relax and chat. Other family members should be involved if possible. Remember that your job may change, friendships change, but family is forever
Part 2 of 3: Taking the Adult Role
Step 1. Set limits
Present the norms for family life: rules, duties, rights, etc.
Explain the reasons for these rules. Since you are the adult, you have a duty to make him understand that the rules for family life are aimed at harmony. They help everyone to know what they can and cannot do. Also, tell him he might not like them, but he should follow them anyway
Step 2. Set simple, clear expectations
Don't forget to mention “when” and “how” they must be fulfilled. For example, “I want you to throw your dirty clothes in the hamper whenever you change; I don't want to see clothes lying on the floor”; "When you're done playing video games, I want you to put it away before you start doing other things." You need to be clear and specific.
Step 3. Have conviction
Don't change your mind when the rules are dictated, or the child will learn that they must negotiate, ignore, or challenge you to get what they want.
- Don't be indecisive. If you said that your child can only have one cookie, even if you think about it and think two would not be a problem, take the first order. Eating more cookies may not be a big deal, but the point is that the child will abuse his indecision in the future.
- When a rule is broken, apply the consequences without discussion. For example, when you tell your child to clean the room and he doesn't obey, give a warning; if he still fails to fulfill his obligation, apply the penalty without hesitation.
Step 4. Don't make empty threats
Don't say you're going to punish him with something you clearly won't do. One day, he will simply pay to see it and start thinking that what you say is lip service.
When you don't know what punishment would be appropriate for his attitude, say you'll think about it. The consequence must be equivalent to bad behavior. For example, if your child forgets to do homework often but spends a lot of time playing on his cell phone, pick up his cell phone and only return it when he has done well on his homework
Step 5. Don't give in to crying, complaining, blackmailing and the like
When you deny something the child asked for, or inflict punishment for misbehavior, don't change your mind. Rest assured even during the classic market tantrum scene. After a few times you don't give in, your child will learn that it doesn't work.
While the shame and stress this causes are great (especially in public), it's still better than encouraging negative behavior and feeding this cycle longer. Leave the place and take him home to solve the problem if necessary, but don't budge from your decision
Step 6. Include other authorities in education
You and your partner should be in the same posture and grandparents, caregivers and others involved should be aware of the rules. These people must be allies in the education of children. Instruct them not to give in to tantrums, not spoil them with excessive gifts, and not legitimize bad behavior.
Part 3 of 3: Teaching Gratitude and Responsibility
Step 1. Teach the magic words of education
“Excuse me”, “please” and “thank you” are expressions that should be taught at the beginning of the child's verbal education. It's never too late to start, even if your child hasn't learned them yet. The best way to do this is to lead by example.
- Say "Please clean your room" instead of "Clean your room now!"
- When your child gains something, immediately say "What should you say?" and if he doesn't know what to say, remind him.
- Ask your spouse for help. For example, when you make dinner, arrange with your partner to say “Thanks for making this food, it's delicious. What did you think of dinner, kids?"
Step 2. Create rules for the whole family
It is okay to do things for children when they are very young, but as soon as possible show them that they should be independent and that everyone should contribute to family harmony.
A good way to start is by teaching your child to put away toys when they're done playing and to increase the level of the task as they grow
Step 3. Be the example
It is not possible to make a child understand that he has obligations if you do not fulfill yours yourself. She must see you at work and realize that even if you want to do other things, you are fulfilling your obligations.
Be polite in public. Say “please” and “thank you” whenever you are served in commercial establishments and restaurants. Say “excuse me” when you bump into someone accidentally, or if you need to interrupt a conversation
Step 4. Help with the child's tasks
More complicated duties, like tidying up the entire room or doing the dishes, can be very difficult for young children. Help your child do them at the beginning. Then you can teach him how to do things right and he will feel safe and capable.
Step 5. Have a task routine
Having a consistent routine allows children to fulfill their obligations more easily. They don't resist the idea so much if they already know that they have to tidy their room every Sunday night, for example.
Also, teach that duty comes before leisure. If your child has an obligation to do but the neighbor has asked him to play ball, tell him he can leave after doing what he should
Step 6. Teach him patience
It's a fact that children don't have patience, but learning from an early age that they have to work and wait for what they want will help them to have a smoother and more successful adult life. Explain that no one gets things right away or all the time.
- A good resource is to include the child in the planning to get something they want, like a trip for example. Teach that money is needed to do this, and it takes time. Show her that the trip will be much more enjoyable because it was planned and expected.
- Demonstrate how you don't get what you want right away. When they're out shopping and you see a pair of jeans you want but can't buy, say "You better wait and buy them when they're on sale, I have other pants that fit."
Step 7. Give more importance to abstract rewards
Even if you have the money to buy anything, don't reward your child for good behavior with gifts all the time and don't buy everything he wants. Prefer to spend more time with him doing fun things in return.
Encourage him instead of giving gifts. When your child performs well at a football game, share how proud you are and how excited the team coach was, rather than buying a trinket. When he shows you a bulletin full of blue bills, tell him you're proud to be his parent, give him a hug and invite him to go to the movies together, or to have a picnic instead of giving something away
Step 8. Teach your child to strive for what he wants
When he's hooked on something superfluous, take the opportunity to teach him the value of money. Help him raise the necessary amount through the tasks and keep it. When he wants something more expensive, tell him to gather and keep a portion of the amount and you'll pay for the rest when you can too.
Step 9. Disregard comparisons with other children
When he says “But all my friends have…” or “My friends don't have to…” say he is part of that family and must follow your rules. Point out that you are doing this for his sake and that he should be grateful for what he has, as many children live on far less.
Step 10. Don't apologize for saying no or for setting boundaries
There is no reason to apologize if you don't have the money to buy what your child wants. Simply say “I would love to give this cart to you, but I can't. Maybe on your birthday”. Reinforce the idea that he can buy what he wants first if he works and saves the money.
- Don't apologize for inflicting punishment for bad behavior. Consequences are part of life, and your child needs to learn that he can't do what he wants, when he wants to. Learning to obey the rules now will help you to obey the law when you reach adulthood and thus stay out of trouble.
- Leave excuses for when you're really wrong. For example, say you're sorry if you lose your mind and yell at him and feel bad afterwards. You don't deny things because you're mean, but because that's what parents do.
Step 11. Give thanks for everything you have together
This is not to say that you should say a prayer; non-religious families can also speak out loud about the things they are grateful for. In the beginning, your child may only talk about toys, but encourage him to say thanks for having each other, for the pet, for health, for food, for the house, etc.
Volunteer to help people in need. Dedicate yourself to helping NGOs that take care of animals or shelters for homeless people, participate in a soup kitchen. Collect donations of essential items around the neighborhood and distribute them to those in need. Thus, your children will feel good about helping others and will also understand how fortunate they are to have this life
- Remember that re-educating a spoiled child takes time. Just as pampering her was a process, teaching her the right values won't happen overnight either. Also, keep in mind that children don't they are spoiled, they become spoiled.
- Most children have an inherent sense of compassion and helpfulness. Encourage this instinct by showing how good it is when we do good to others.
- Ask for help. You may need support, even simple advice from more experienced parents will do. Talk to your parents or your partner, seek guardianship advice or a therapist, search for support groups on the internet. Don't think you're alone in this battle.