Source: Shridhar LifeSchool - Psychology and Counselling
Some parents make the mistake os pampering their children. They think that they are loving the child but end up spoiling them. And, if you are one of those parents, either your are already facing some trouble because of it or the trouble is coming.
What kind of trouble? You have probably made your child's life so comfortable, that they now fight with you the moment you ask them to do something difficult, or something they disagree with. You have given them so many privileges or luxuries that they can't adjust in tougher conditions outside the home. You have been saying yes to all their demands and now they can't accept a 'No'. They get angry and throw tantrums every time you refuse to fulfill their wishes. You have may be given them so much that they don't even value any of it. In short, they are spoilt.
Why do parents do it? There could be many reasons:
1. You want them to have the life you never had.
2. You don't have time to spend with them and thus you just shower them with toys, gifts and luxuries.
3. May be this is how you actually show your your love. You don't know any better way.
4. Or possibly, you think your child will hate you if you say no to them, and you want your child to love you, at least more than they love your spouse?
Whatever the reason you might have for pampering your child, my recommendation to you is very simple. Don't do it.
But of course, it is not that simple. the problem is complex. You, as a parent, have a certain level of wealth and resources. What will you do with it if you're not going to let your children enjoy them? And where is the line? How much should you give? How much is too much/ How much is too little?
There is obviously no measurable or one-size-fits-all answer for this. As the cliché goes, it depends. But, I'm going to give you a framework to think about this problem. Consider the following points;
First, try to predict and answer this question, 'when this child becomes an adult, would they be able to sustain the current level of privileges or not? The answer to this question will change every so often. Someday your child will seem very responsible and talented, someday it'll feel that they're useless and incompetent. But you must keep those questions in mind. Will your child be able to afford the rent of the big house they're living in? Are they capable enough to buy the expensive branded clothes you buy them so casually? If not, how will the future look like? How long will you keep giving these privileges? Ultimately, you will have to cut them off. You will have to make them independent, right? So, why not start a little earlier? Why not start today?
This brings us to the second point. You must, from the beginning, create a balance of responsibility vs. privileges in the house. Responsibilities in childhood mostly include school work and house chores. Some other responsibilities could be, to remain healthy, maintain decorum in the house, even being respectful to parents, etc. You need to make privileges somewhat conditional on these responsibilities. Essentially, give them a taste of adult life. Which is, if you don't work, you don't get the car.
Third, ask another question to yourself - are you giving them resources for their growth or for their pleasure? If you are spending money on your child's music classes, sports classes, books, etc. It is very different from spending money on their toys, gadgets, clothes, birthday parties. Basically, whatever you're spending on them, is it being used by the child to just have more fun, or is it being used to try out a new skill, or to become better at something, to explore talents, to start a new project, etc. The problem would begin when you start spending excessively on their fun, without proportionately spending on their talents and growth. So make sure you're investing proportionately in their joys and their talents.
Fourth, are you making them grateful towards what you're giving them/ If you think, 'Oh! I'll give them everything, and then in future, the children will love me...'. Bad news! It won't happen like that. They will most likely take everything for granted. More often than not, you'll just find them complaining about the things the didn't get. So, it is your job to make them realize the value of what you're giving them. It's your job to make them thankful for it. It's your job to tell them that milliona and billions of people probably don't have the same provileges. They must realize the value of everything you're giving them for free. Like, why spend so much money and time on them, only to be hated later? You give them everything and they grow up resenting you and not talking to you? What's the point of it all? Who did you do it for? So, gratitude must be taught to them, explicitly. And, first step there would be to show gratitude to your own parents, consistently.
Fifth, you must make your child experience 'no' from time to time. They must learn to deal with it. Of course, don't do it arbitrarily. Say no, only when you have good reasons to say no. But do say it, when needed. The main thing here is to learn to not be afraid of the child's anger or tantrums. In fact, if they show tantrums or anger, then you'll have to become even more strict in saying 'no'. Your goal is to make sure that they accept your 'no', with respect. And your objective is to teach them, that their anger and tantrums will never turn a 'no' into a 'yes'. If you get scared and say yes to avoid fighting with them, you're only making them stronger. This is basic operant conditioning. By letting their anger win, you're reinforcing their bad behavior. In fact, if they show bad behavior, you need not only stand your ground and stay firm, but you can even go on to cut additional privileges, say no to something else as well, just as a lesson to them. As a parent, you must strive to have the authority to say no and still be respected.
Finally, follow the cliché because it is very true. Your time is the best gift. Children need your time, your love, your care. That is really the biggest gift. Pamper them with your time whenever you can. Not with things. If you really want them to love you all your life, give them good memories with you, not just stuff which anyone can buy them.
So, these were my premises and I repeat the conclusion, 'don't pamper your child too much.' That's it.
- Shridhar Maheshwari