Five things parents can do right now to STOP spoiling their kids
If you asked me whether my kids were spoiled I'd say, it depends on your definition of spoiled, as well as the culture and class of children they were being compared with. Clearly my kids are not out plowing the fields, foraging for crustaceans and subsequently cleaning, boiling, and serving them, nor are they clearing brush. But apparently, based on a recent article in the New Yorker, Spoiled Rotten our kids are well; spoiled rotten.
The truth is this article forced me to look at my own kids- and whether or not I have consciously or unconsciously granted them unprecedented authority over the tenor of our family and have essentially handed them the keys to the car- aka- put them in control. While I'd be remiss to say that I don't indulge them on some level...it's true they have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to tech gadgets and toys, none of those possessions are ever just given to them carte blanche, but rather earned through good behavior and as a reward for being compassionate to one another and those around them.
My daughter folds the family's laundry (as seen in this photo) she is also fastidious about cleaning her room and maintaining that her stuff be in working order. Unfortunately my seven year old has a bit of a harder time assuming responsibilities so I do occasionally raise my voice with him- but eventually he gets the message. Ultimately I do have to hand it to my husband for instilling in me the understanding that our kids cannot simply be feted just for the mere act of their existence- that they need to earn things and they need to be productive and responsible little citizens, so that they don't turn into these self indulgent little creeps characterized so succinctly in the New Yorker article.
But as a parent, it is so hard to hold back when it comes to your kids- and in many instances I think we all feel like showering them with stuff and not enforcing strict guidelines, is an expression of our love for them. So, as a parent now, I am always trying to find that middle ground- to be strict but not an army general; to give them chores and responsibilities but not invoke extreme child labor. It is certainly a balancing act and I can always use a few tips, so I asked Dr. Fran Walfish celebrity doctor and leading child, teen, parent, and family psychotherapist and author in Beverly Hills for her top 5 tips to help parents prevent their kids from becoming spoiled rotten.
DR. FRAN'S 5 TOP TIPS TO UNSPOIL YOUR CHILD:
* Implement "Special Time" daily with each child. This is 10-15 minutes at the same time each day of individual uninterrupted quality positive attention. You can scoop ice-cream cones with your child, eat them together while you look adoringly into your child's eyes, take a walk around the block holding hands, or dig for worms in the backyard. Special Time lays the positive foundation for creating and following through on boundaries.
* Be clear about limits/boundaries. State expectations, enforce them, and take action when your child resists. Action means that you physically move your child to do his and her responsibilities. This teaches your child that resistance does not prevail in avoiding jobs.
* Have an action plan prepared in advance. You need to be equipped with strategies you can pull out of your back pocket. Don't wait to figure it out in the moment.
* Encourage and invite your child to express powerful emotions including anger directly at you. Too many parents dodge being the target of their kid's anger and rage. They fear it. I advise parents: Embrace your kids - flaws and all!
* Talk openly with your kids about their behavior and what they want and feel. Talking is the glue that holds relationships together.
So what are your tips for raising kids who aren't spoiled rotten?