Do you overindulge your child? To answer that question you need to understand that overindulgence and spoiling are two different things. Spoiling involves buying a toy for no special reason or giving in and letting him have another piece of cake for dessert or a few cookies before dinner once in awhile. Indulgence is totally different.
Overindulgence is when you give your child so much of something that it prevents him from developing and learning at a normal rate. For example, if you do everything for your child such as pick up his toys or clothes, make his bed or empty his plate after dinner and so forth, then he will never learn to do these things for himself. He will always want and need someone else to do these basic things for him even when he is grown.
Another way to overindulge your child is to not set clear rules and boundaries. If you buy everything he asks for even when he wants something even if it’s not age-appropriate, then you are overindulging your child. If you let him run wild or engage in activities when he should be studying or resting, then you are teaching him that he can do what he wants, when he wants.
When he becomes an adult and no longer gets things his way, it will be difficult for him to follow rules. It will be hard for him to succeed in a career or to have a social life because he will expect others to always do things for him and possibly get upset when he is told no. So what can you do about it?
Here are three ways to avoid overindulging your child:
- Create structure – Have rules and guidelines for your child to follow and chores for him to do that will help teach him life skills he will need throughout life. Explain the consequences of breaking the rules and enforce them. It will teach him that you must follow rules and you can’t always have things your way. You are not being mean or too strict when you provide structure for your child by making him follow rules and do chores. It’s teaching him lessons he will need to be a self-efficient adult and it helps set the stage for future success.
- Learn to distinguish wants from needs – As a parent, you want to make sure your child has everything he needs to be healthy and happy. However, there is a big difference between what he wants and thinks he needs and his actual needs. Just because he wants new toys or a new wardrobe doesn’t mean he needs them, so learn to say No once in a while. There is nothing wrong with giving your child what he wants occasionally but in general, it’s best to provide for his needs, not his wants.
- Work together as parents – Mom and dad need to work together as one in order to stay on the same page. If dad always says yes to everything it doesn’t do mom much good to say no. Both of you (and any other caretakers) must talk and come to an agreement on limitations that everyone can stick to. It’s what’s best for the child. However, this doesn’t mean that you should always agree on everything. In fact, it’s healthy to have different opinions. When you disagree, kids learn how to work together in a calm and peaceful manner in which you settle your difference and come to an agreement.
It’s natural to want to give your child everything but it’s not healthy for them. If you put them too high up on the pedestal, they will expect everyone else to do so as well and that is not reality. Kids need structure, rules, and limits on what they can and can’t do so they can grow and mature as they learn the lessons that will shape their future.
Spoiling a child won’t do any lasting harm but overindulging your child can. It prevents him from learning life skills that he will need to be a responsible, self-reliant adult by hindering the natural learning process and that is harmful.
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These are great tips. I was a single parent from the time my oldest was 3. He had responsibilities & structure from the beginning. My sister called him “spoiled” but he’s about to graduate HS and a great kid that has caused me no trouble.