Somewhere near the top of the list of the most unpleasant things one can encounter on earth has to be demanding and spoiled children who believe that they are entitled to whatever they want, whenever they want it.
If the job of parenting is to raise children who are ultimately good, kind, responsible citizens who fulfill their unique potentials as they contribute to the betterment of society, then making sure our kids are not spoiled is an important component of our duties. Not only that, raising children who are not spoiled means that we enjoy the company of our kids, and spend our time together having less conflict and more fun.
Parents who want to shape their children into people who are raised to be thankful, patient, have self-control, and are generally pleasant individuals to be around can definitely take measures to help steer their kids in the right direction. Here are some important ways to make sure you don’t spoil your child:
- Make sure they do chores.
Giving children age-appropriate chores can not only help lighten your load around the house, but it can help your child develop a sense of responsibility and self-esteem. Sure, it can take longer initially to teach a young child how to do even simple tasks such as sweeping the correct way (truth be told, it can often be easier just to do it yourself), but teaching your child how to do housework can be an important foundation that will serve him the rest of his life.
- Teach them to say thank you.
Whether it’s for small everyday things like a dinner you have prepared or for bigger things like a birthday present you give her, your child should know how to say thank you almost reflexively, without prompting.
Be a good role model for your child by showing her the ways you say thank you to the people around you, such as a waiter at a restaurant or a teller at a bank. Sit down and write thank you notes with your child (or have her write them herself if she’s older) to send to people who give her presents or help her in some way.
- Discipline your child.
One of the most important things we can do as parents is to teach our children how to regulate themselves so that there is little or no need for discipline. Setting firm boundaries and expectations early can make a huge difference in how a child behaves as he grows.
Children who are taught at an early age how to conduct themselves in a pleasant manner, be patient, and have self-control are more likely to have an easier time making friends and being successful in social settings. Disciplining children is one of the key ways parents can avoid spoiling their kids.
- Raise a charitable child.
A child who learns to consider the needs of friends, family, and the world beyond and develops a desire to help others in need is a child who is less spoiled.
Encourage your child to think beyond herself by volunteering together as a family to clean up parks, feed hungry families, or even help elderly neighbors. These small acts of kindness can teach your child that there are those who are less fortunate than themselves and that they can make a difference in people’s lives.
- Don’t pile on the false praise.
There’s been a lot of debate about whether or not it’s a good idea to give everyone a trophy just for participating in a game or race and labeling every child talented and outstanding. While the motivation for unwarranted praise comes from a good place -- that of not wanting kids to feel bad about themselves and attempting to foster self-esteem -- the reality is that not everyone can win or is equally talented in all things.
It is indeed important to nurture your child’s desire to try, perhaps fail, and try again those things that she wants to do. But there is a way to encourage without giving her praise when it’s not warranted. If your child fails at something, remind her that not succeeding is often necessary to one day getting it right. If she is not naturally good at something, remind her of the many other things that she is good at, and encourage her to think about how different people, such as her friends and family, are good at different things, and that these differences are what make us unique and interesting.
- Make sure they mind their manners.
Good manners go beyond saying thank you. Saying please, speaking in a nice manner to people, showing good sportsmanship during games, having good table manners, greeting people properly, and having other basic good manners are essential skills to guard against spoiling your child.
- Teach them about the value of money.
Teaching kids about money is an important way to make sure you don’t spoil your child. When your child learns about what things cost, how a household budget is run, and how to manage her own allowance, she is less likely to whine about something she wants at a store.