You’ve seen the warning signs that your child is getting spoiled. Don’t worry, it’s not too late to unspoil a child, especially with these 7 tips.
For many parents, kids seem to challenge them every day. They demand their way every time and throw a fit when they don’t get it. Simple toys aren’t enough anymore, and anything kids need to do requires a bribe.
If you can relate, don’t worry, it’s not too late. You’re not “stuck” with spoiled kids for years on end. But it’ll take a shift in thinking about parenting, putting your foot down—firmly but with empathy—and encouraging values you want your child to uphold.
It’s not too late to unspoil a child
Many parents admit they see the warning signs of raising a spoiled child and asked, “What do I do?” Here are a few ideas:
1. Limit materials and focus on experiences
Studies have shown that giving kids experiences over material items provides more happiness. From The Atlantic:
Over the past decade, an abundance of psychology research has shown that experiences bring people more happiness than do possessions.
If your child asks for the latest toy or extra Christmas gifts, give experiences instead. Rather than the latest toy, take her to a beach outing. And instead of 10 Christmas gifts, give a few and highlight holiday traditions.
2 Foster gratitude for the little things
At the same time, even experiences can get out of hand. Your child gets bored with a trip to the park and wants to go to Disneyland instead.
But despite your child’s protests, kids don’t need a lot to feel happy. Remember when they were babies and they’d bat the balls dangling from the play mat? Sometimes they didn’t even need a play mat—you’d just sit them down on the grass and they’d be content looking at the leaves.
Enjoy simpler pleasures as a family. The highlight of your day can be visiting relatives or going to the new playground. Kids don’t need to go to every new museum or see every show. You might hear a few groans, but the more you value these simple, special moments, the more they’ll need extravagant experiences to feel happy.
The best way to foster this gratitude is to practice it yourself. Say out loud how grateful you are to spend time with them at the new playground. That the best part of your day is picking them up and having a snack after school. These are the little joys that make life richer.
3. Redefine “discipline”
What comes to mind when you hear the word “discipline”? Most likely, you thought punishment and consequences, what we do when our kids misbehave, or the parenting style you chose.
Discipline is more than that—it’s teaching. When we discipline, we teach our kids how to behave, regulate their emotions, calm themselves down, and think of other people’s feelings. These are the skills we want them to have when they grow up.
Think of yourselves as being on the same side. Forget power struggles or parent-child battles. You’re teaching her how to behave and giving her the skills she needs as an adult.
4. Encourage empathy
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Ironically, two of our library books this week dealt with the golden rule. One is The Golden Rule by Ilene Cooper and the other is Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller. Both talk about the importance of imagining what it’s like to be another person. Treating that person how you’d want them to treat you.
Maybe your child has been talking back, not doing what she needs to do, or hitting her little brother. Explain how her actions can make others feel. Tell her how you feel when she says hurtful words, or that her brother cries because he doesn’t like getting hit.
Then explain that she wouldn’t want those actions done to her. Follow the golden rule by pointing out how others feel (whether by her actions or someone else’s). Label emotions you might see, both positive and negative. She’ll become more aware of others’ feelings and how her words and actions affect them.
5. Follow through with consequences
How often have you given empty threats without following through on their consequences? Let’s say your child misbehaves despite acknowledging her motives and redirecting her elsewhere. Let her know what will happen if she continues to misbehave, then follow through with it.
You told her to stop throwing the wooden blocks because she could hurt people or break things. You’ve even acknowledged the joy of throwing and redirected her to the foam balls.
Except… she keeps doing it. You can say, ”It looks like you’re not ready to play with the wooden blocks correctly. If you keep throwing them, I’ll have to put them away for today. You can have them when you’re ready to play without throwing.”
Say this in a matter-of-fact tone. You’re not holding anything against her—you’re just letting her know what happens if she does a certain action.
And of course, the most important part: if she does throw another block, put them away until tomorrow. Don’t let her have one more swing with a block, and don’t give them back to her after five minutes of crying. Explain that she kept throwing them, so it’s time to find something she can play with that won’t hurt others.
6. Build a strong relationship
Kids usually behave well because they care about what we think and don’t want to disappoint us. But if those reasons don’t convince your child to behave well, then you’ll need to focus on building a strong relationship.
Steer away from power struggles and consequences and build a strong relationship. When she’s upset, don’t make yourself so threatening. Show empathy by kneeling down below her eye level and saying you’d be pretty upset too if the same happened to you. Acknowledge that times can be hard, and that you’re here to help her through them.
Make yourself an ally, not an enemy. Yes, you’re the parent, but parent and child should be on the same, not opposing, sides.
7. Remember, you are the adult
As exhausting as your child can be, remember that you are the adult. You’re the one who makes the best decisions for your family. Bowing down to her demands doesn’t do anyone any good.
After all, kids need an adult to guide them through these formative years. They don’t like feeling upset or throwing a tantrum and feel scared when they happen. After all, if even her parents can’t stand up to these tantrums, then who will?
Still struggling with your child’s tantrums? Get my FREE quick guide to help you figure out what to do when tantrums strike. Download it below:
Your job isn’t to make your child happy. Happiness is a result of the many factors that make up her childhood and something you’d want her to have, but that’s not your job. In fact, she needs to experience feelings beyond happiness—disappointment and humility, for instance.
Your job is to raise future adults. That’s it. One who won’t grow up to become an adult who feels she’s entitled to everything. An adult who knows that hard work, not complaining, will yield better results. One who thinks of others, not always herself.
Regardless of where you are in your relationship with her, it’s not too late to unspoil your child.
Discipline is nothing more than teaching her how to behave. Foster gratitude and encourage empathy. Give less materials and more experiences while building a strong relationship. Above all, remember you are the adult who needs to make the best decisions, not to always make your child happy.
Get more tips on parenting and your child’s behavior:
- 9 Warning Signs You’re Raising a Spoiled Child
- How to Teach Gratitude to Children So They’re Thankful for What They Have
- The Benefits of Fostering Gratitude
- How to Unspoil Your Kids
- How to Un-Spoil a Child
Tell me in the comments: What are your best tips on unspoiling kids?