Why is it that some children are more demanding that others? Why are some children always throwing tantrums? Most demands and tantrums seem pretty reasonable; a happy meal every weekend to complete the Justice League collection isn’t a big deal and it pays to see them oh-so-happy. But as the child grows older and the boundary between needs and extravagance begins to fade, you run the risk of raising a child who believes he is entitled to everything he cries about. Being the “fun parent” is every parent’s utopia, but most often parents forego establishing boundaries and end up with a child who gets a fit the minute he doesn’t get what he wants. This tends to get a lot harder in the teen years.
Here are a few signs you’re spoiling your child, and how you can break the habit of their tantrums:
- You overdo buying gifts and toys:
Elaborate gifts encourage materialism and make the child relate relationships to gifts rather than experiences. A new toy once in a while is okay, but as the “toy per tantrum” rate increases, unreal expectations in the child increase too. The solution: reduce the child’s exposure to commercials and media, and focus more on spending time together. Outings and social gatherings are extremely helpful. Read more about how going out can be more interesting for your child here.
- You try to babyproof disappointments:
If your child breaks a toy and demands a new one, do you instantly go online and order it, or let them cry and express frustration? Obviously, you hate seeing your child cry but constantly going out of your way to controlling tantrums instills a sense of entitlement. Let them learn to handle small disappointments; it’ll teach them to adapt when things don’t go their way.
- You give empty threats and break rules:
The phrase “If you don’t finish dinner, you don’t get dessert” is almost always followed by dessert! Either make sure you don’t serve dessert, or make sure you don’t set the condition. The child will soon realize you are not to be taken seriously. Instead, be firm with rules that you set, and rationalize with your child the consequences of their actions.
- You don’t encourage ‘Excuse me’ and ‘Sorry’:
Does your little one butt into conversations without so much as an ‘excuse me’? At first, it isn’t on purpose, but if you allow that kind of behavior to go unchecked, it becomes a bad habit. Let him know kindly but firmly, that you are currently talking, and that as soon as you finish he is allowed to talk.
- You don’t teach them gratitude:
Sometimes we tell children that there’s no need to say Thank you and that we do things because we love them. However, this becomes a problem when they don’t show gratitude to outsiders either. It seems to them that anyone who gives them something is obligated to do so, hence gratitude is unnecessary. Instead, be a role model and teach them to say Thank You to everyone, including mom and dad.
‘We show disappointment to imbibe good behavior.’ When children are taught that their actions make others unhappy, they tend to make amends in future instances. In shielding them from truths they need to know, we deny them important life lessons. Being their friend is important, but we are parents first.