There is no undo button when it comes to spoilt kids. But here are some tips to help you start.
Christmas is all about gratitude — giving thanks for the things we appreciate. But what about when we can’t get our kids to mumble a simple “thanks” for the DVD we just bought them, or for cleaning their room? Is it possible that they’re a little bit… spoilt?
I think we all sometimes wonder how this happens. They started out so sweet and innocent, tightly swaddled in their hospital blankets, and now we listen to them pitch a fit if they can’t get that designer handbag or stay up late shooting aliens on a screen. We always wanted “the best” for our kids — but this certainly isn’t what we had in mind!
The sad truth is, while our parental intentions have been good, we are part of the problem. There’s not a big “undo” button we can click, but here are seven key steps we can take to un-spoil our kids.
1. Teach contentedness 101.
When kids are truly grateful for what they have, they don’t constantly demand more. Kids of all ages can learn gratitude by practising ways to say thank you, giving thanks in gratitude rituals and serving those less fortunate. Kids who begin to appreciate how good they have it will lose the spoilt attitude, and feel happier for it.
2. Take the “gimmee!” out of gifting.
Consider setting gift giving rules for your family, and manage expectations for a simpler season. For instance, commit to three gifts each, or stick to “something I want, something I need, something to wear and something to read.” You can also consider giving handmade gifts or coupons for time and talent to immediate family. Not only will these be more meaningful than another plastic action figure, but they will show kids that a present doesn’t have to have a price tag to be worth something.
3. Invest time.
You’ll be treating yourself and your kids if you take the focus off of “stuff” and instead put an emphasis on one-on-one time spent together. Believe it or not, they want your undivided attention even more than the giant cardboard castle they’ve been asking for. When your kids consistently get one-on-one time with you, you’ll strengthen emotional connections and gain greater cooperation. What’s more, kids will learn that happiness comes from spending time with those you love — not the shopping centre.
4. Go ahead: disappoint.
You know how you would rather visit four shops and shell out big bucks for the “perfect” toy than face your child’s disappointment when she unwraps it? Well-meaning parents often desire to make the world a perfect place for our kiddos, whether we’re buying them a smartphone against our better judgment or cooking two different meals every night. Unfortunately, when we smooth out all the bumps, kids get used to an easy ride without life’s little disappointments and they lose out on the valuable lessons hardship can teach us (resilience, perseverance, resourcefulness). But what to do when they pitch a fit? Be brave: ignore it. Pretty soon, your kids will learn that they can survive life’s little disappointments, not to mention the fact that a tantrum isn’t going to help.