Ask anyone if they want to spoil their child, and you will hear an emphatic, “No!” But even though this phrase has been tossed around for decades, what does it really mean? Is it possible to spoil a child, and if so, why would any parent do it?
What most people mean when they refer to a child as “spoiled” is that the parents indulge their child too much. Whether it is through gifts or giving in to their child’s every whim, a parent who spoils their child rarely says no. This leads to the child making outrageous demands and insisting that they get their way all the time. When a child gets to the point of throwing tantrums and displaying meltdowns every time they don’t receive their every whim, people refer to them as “spoiled”.
The Dangers of Labeling a Child as “Spoiled”
There is more than one problem with finger pointing and labeling children. First of all, if a child hears someone refer to them as “spoiled” or another derogatory term, it erodes and damages their self-esteem. No child deserves to be tagged with a negative label about issues that have likely been put upon them through circumstances beyond their control.
Another reason not to label a child as “spoiled” is because unless you are a part of that specific family, you do not know what is going on beneath the surface. A child you think is spoiled may actually have learning disabilities and sensory issues that make it difficult for them to emotionally navigate the world around them.
Saying that a child is spoiled also indirectly judges the parent, placing blame and negative intent on them. The short time that you view the child acting spoiled might be the worst part of their week. Perhaps the parent has been doing a great job and you have seen only a snippet of their child’s life story… the part of the story that included the child raging for 15 minutes over something they desperately wanted. Maybe they missed their nap, and have lost the control necessary to contain their emotions in that moment.
How to Prevent Spoiling Your Child
If you are keen to raise a child who is respectful as often as possible at their age, and has the emotional tools to navigate the complications that life can bring, continue reading. The key is giving yourself to your child, rather than giving them “stuff” to make up for feeling inadequate in some way. Spend quality time with your child, and give them unlimited love. Shower them with hugs, kisses and affection. Let them know you love them and love being around them. Build up their self-esteem by raising them with confidence.
Give your child the things they need in life to succeed, but resist the urge to buy them everything they want. Even if you have the financial means to give them everything they ask for, it does a child good to hear the word “no” every now and then. This prepares them to live in a world where they will not expect handouts, nor feel entitled to anything that is not rightfully theirs.
Spoiling one’s child is not something many people intend to do, but it happens. There are so many ways you can input into your child’s life without giving in to the urge to give them “too much.” Give your child love rather than things, because there can never be too much of that.