Giving in to your adorable tyrant can be risky.

What Are the Dangers of Spoiling Children?

by Liza Blau

Your tot's every wish is your command. She demands a new toy? You rush to the toy store. She throws dinner at the wall? You cook her whatever she wants. She misbehaves at preschool? You insist she shouldn't be reprimanded because she's "just a little girl." While you might think you're simply being a loving parent, spoiling your child deprives her of vital lessons that will help her become a responsible adult.

Sense of Entitlement

Spoiling your tot might lead her to expect that the outside world will treat her the same way. If she thinks everything will be handed to her on a silver platter, she may never develop motivation and drive. Why should she work for anything when Mommy always gave her what she wanted? She may not try very hard in school, extracurricular activities or even her career. When she doesn't receive immediate gratification, she might become frustrated and angry. As an adult, she'll still expect others to wait on her, throwing a tantrum when she doesn't get her way. After all, that tactic worked well on Mommy.

Lack of Coping Skills

Overindulging your child isn't only about showering her with toys and possessions. It also includes rescuing her when she begins to feel even the slightest bit frustrated. You might show up to finish a challenging puzzle or game, or even pick up her toys after she refuses. By constantly easing her struggles, you're actually training her to be helpless in the face of life's inevitable frustrations. Being allowed to make mistakes is how kids learn to overcome problems through perseverance, which is necessary for success.

No Personal Responsibility

Your tot is on easy street. When she hits a playmate, is rude to Grandma or steals another child's toy, she's not concerned -- Mommy always bails her out. Instead of teaching her to say "I'm sorry" to Grandma, you decide to rescue her by apologizing to Grandma yourself. You may conclude the other child must have started the fight because your little angel can do no wrong. Because you fail to enforce limits, she'll continue to assume she can misbehave and get away with it. She never learns to be accountable for her actions. As she matures, she might remain in "victim" mode, blaming others for her mistakes rather than learning from them and taking responsibility.

What to Do

Instead of spoiling your little one, help her learn the value of tangible and emotional rewards through hard effort. Assign her simple chores to earn a privilege, such as additional TV time, a toy or stickers. You might instruct your preschooler to clean her room or help you wipe the dinner table. Routine chores at home help children develop moral and social responsibility, according to anthropologist Carolina Izquierdo. Always remember to praise your tot. You might say, "Good job. Thank you for helping me dry the dishes." When she misbehaves, enforce consequences such as not permitting her to play a favorite game. Allowing her to learn through trial and error will demonstrate that you have confidence in her abilities to succeed, which will help instill self-confidence.

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