Have we left it too late to unspoil our child?

I have only recently realised how spoilt my child is. Last week, my five-year-old son caused such a scene in our local shopping centre, because we didn’t buy him a toy he wanted. I felt like walking away from him because I could feel the judgment from the people who stopped and stared at us. We didn’t really know what to do, is it possible to unspoil your child or have we left it too late? I’m frightened to go out with him now in case it happens again. Can you please give us some advice or tips? >> Well, it sounds like you had a very stressful experience. I really wouldn’t beat myself up about it, though. We’ve all been there, as parents, myself included, and I really wouldn’t be overly concerned about the judgemental eye of strangers. But, I think from what you’ve told me, there are a few things you can do to ameliorate some of the behaviours that are causing concern. First of all, it is very easy to fall into a pattern of getting your child whatever it is they want. At times, it’s easier than the battle. But it’s a short-term gain for long-term pain. I think, in particular, my generation of parents are not good at saying no. Perhaps that comes from growing up in the 1980s where we really didn’t receive too much in the line of material things. We have more money now and we want to give our children the things we feel we didn’t have growing up. So, as I said, it’s very easy to fall into that pattern.
However, we also want to give our children the gift of happiness, because at the root of giving them what they want we mistakenly believe we are making them happy. But unfortunately, it’s a little more complicated than that and a little more paradoxical; because the very thing we use to create happiness is ultimately the thing that is going to ensure they do not experience it in later life. By giving a child what they want, when they want it, we develop a sense of entitlement in that child. And that is something you really do not want to instil in your child. Nothing is more detrimental to your child’s happiness than the belief they are entitled to whatever they want. And that’s what you witnessed in the shopping centre last week, the physical reaction to that belief being challenged. It was scary right? But the good news is that you can change it. He is only five. But imagine when he is 25 and that belief is entrenched, imagine his partner trying to get him to do something he doesn’t want to do. Or imagine his boss telling him something he doesn’t like the sound of, there is no doubt he will find it hard to navigate the world, because he will have been given the message that the world should suit him. And we all know that is not going to happen.
3 tips to unspoil your child 1. Break the cycle of saying ‘YES.’
But do it gently. Too much difference too quickly is not good for a child. Slowly start to say ‘no.’ Pick your battles, make sure they are fair. Children have a heightened sense of justice. Do not arbitrarily start saying no to everything but identify the spoilt behaviours that you are concerned about and start to parent them. Of course you will still say yes to some demands but you must start to be firm about the ones you want to change. And make sure your husband is firm too. You both must be saying the same thing. Do not give your child mixed messages. Have a conversation with your husband and decide on what you are going to say no to. This will help your child to understand the rules and will alleviate those big public displays.
2. Stop bribing your child.
This is a mistake many parents fall into. When you use bargaining as a parenting tool, all you are teaching your child is that they will get what they want eventually. Have you heard yourself saying something like; ‘if you’re good when we are out, I will buy you that toy you want.’ What is the lesson here? Well, it’s about using negative behaviour to get what you want. You’re teaching that bad behaviour is a currency.
3. Be by their side, not on it.
You are not your child’s best friend. You are their parent. And you must say no. You must make those difficult decisions that will make your child say things like; ‘I hate you’ or ‘I wish you were not my mom.’ Very hard things to hear from someone you love so much but that is the entitlement talking, not your child.
And eventually they will come back to you and say sorry for what they said and that is when you have a very clam discussion about why you said no to that demand. You’ll find that those hurtful comments will diminish as your child becomes unspoilt.
When we give into every whim our child has, we mistakenly believe we will make them happy. But the next time you give your child whatever it is they want at that particular time, just watch how long it really makes them happy and watch how long before that toy ends up thrown with the rest of the ‘must have’ items that caused such a tantrum.
Spoiling your child will make it almost impossible for them to experience contentment in adult life. And the partners they end up with will not thank you for it, and more importantly — your child will not thank you for it either.
‘It is very easy to fall into a pattern of getting your child whatever it is they want

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