You are the boss, not your child.

How to Stop Spoiling Your Child

by Aline Lindemann

No parent aims to raise a spoiled child, but the line between love and overindulgence can be difficult to define. Being spoiled actually has less to do with the child and more to do with the parents giving too much and trying too hard to protect their precious offspring from disappointment. To stop spoiling your child, embrace the idea of setting limits and sticking to them. It won't always be easy, but your child will benefit from it.

Teach your child how to become more independent by giving her some simple chores. Begin by clearly stating exactly what you want your little one to do. Take a deep breath and keep the language simple and positive. Instead of telling your child not to leave her shoes in the middle of the kitchen while you're picking them up for her -- because that's a surefire way to get your child to ignore you -- tell her calmly exactly where you want her to put them. This way, your child knows just what to do to be successful.

Praise your child only after she has done her best to fulfill your request, and don't reward inappropriate behavior. If your child refuses to follow directions and pitches a fit, don't give in to her demands -- doing so will perpetuate her negative behavior. Make a behavior chart where she can earn a sticker for every time she brings her dirty dish to the sink or makes her bed or takes a nap without having a meltdown. After she has earned a specific number of stickers, reward her with a special outing, story time at the library, a trip to the frozen-yogurt stand or a new book.

Avoid comparisons. There's a saying about a fence and greener grass on the other side -- it's true. No matter how perfect you try to be, there will always be another parent who is more lenient and another who is less lenient, and countless others who might seem like they have all the answers. Just because every other child on the block has a brand-new pink trike doesn't mean your darling must have one too. When the other kids at preschool get sweets in their lunch and your little one has noticed and is now begging and pleading for the same, stick to your guns. There's nothing wrong with saying no. Your job is to make decisions that are right for your family, not to keep up with someone else's.

Give charitably, and get your child involved. Sort through her toys, clothing and books periodically and let her know there are children who don't have as many nice things as she does -- that it's good to share. Put the gently used items in a bag and bring her with you when you deliver it to the shelter or children's hospital. Or enlist her help sorting nonperishables for a food bank. If you make charitable acts a regular part of your life, she will learn the value of giving over taking.

About the Author

Aline Lindemann is a health, food and travel writer. She has also worked as a social worker, preschool teacher and art educator. Lindemann holds a Master of Liberal Studies in culture, health and creative nonfiction writing from Arizona State University.

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