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  • How to Stop Overindulging Your Child: Don't Raise a Selfish Generation!

    Overindulgence is not doing your child any favor, especially when he becomes a grown-up.
    by Kitty Elicay .
How to Stop Overindulging Your Child: Don't Raise a Selfish Generation!
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  • Parents know that when faced with a child having a meltdown being calm is key. But the fact is, it is easier said than done, especially when the tantrum is happening in public. So, it is very tempting just to prolong the screaming and kicking. Surely it wouldn’t hurt to buy him that toy that is causing all the whining?

    But giving in to your child often does more harm than good. Not only will it teach your child that throwing a tantrum is an effective way to get what he wants, but you might fall victim to the ‘overindulgent’ trap — that is, you are giving him too much of everything.

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    What overindulgence means

    In the book How Much is Too Much, authors and parenting experts David Bredehoft, Ph.D., Jean Illsley Clarke, Ph.D., and Connie Dawson, Ph.D., identify three types of overindulgence:

    • Giving too much. It can be in the form of buying too many toys or clothes or giving them too many activities.
    • Overnurturing. It happens when parents do too much for their children. Often, these are tasks that children need to learn for themselves.
    • Soft structure. It entails giving kids too much freedom and not enforcing rules and boundaries. For example, they can have as much screen time as they want, or parents do not require them to help out with chores.

    If you are guilty of any or all of these, you may be overindulging your child.

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    Why overindulgence can harm your child

    It might be hard for parents to grasp the idea of overindulgence — how can providing the best for your kids be a bad thing? But according to the book’s authors, childhood overindulgence can affect kids well into adulthood. In his column for Psychology Today, Dr. Bredehoft shares that those who were overindulged as a child showed “extreme difficulty making decisions” and often needed praise and material rewards to feel “worthy.”

    Children who have been raised in soft structure may also struggle with adult jobs because they’ve never participated in household tasks, which can teach a thing or two about doing a job and doing it well, according to Dr. Clarke. With this, they’ll also struggle with taking responsibility for their actions or even taking care of themselves.

    Saying ‘yes’ to your kids all the time will also make them fail in learning about delayed gratification — they won’t know that sometimes you need to wait to get something you really want. This might also cause them to feel the need to be the center of attention at all times since they are so used to you giving in to their demands.

    “If a child breaks or loses a toy or belonging and the parents replace the items right away, that child misses out on the opportunity to work hard to replace it and to feel good about themselves for having achieved a goal,” says Dr. Bredehoft in an interview with VeryWell Family. This can make a child ungrateful and materialistic.

    It can even affect future goals he's set for himself. According to Dr. Bredehoft and his co-authors, their research has shown that overindulged children aspired most to achieve goals like wealth, fame, and image. On the bottom of the list are more meaningful goals, like a loving relationship with someone, experiencing personal growth, and contributing to the community or society.

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    How to stop overindulging your child

    Overindulgence does not make you are a terrible parent — it often comes from parents' good intentions for their child. But it does not mean that you should continue doing it. Here are simple ways to recover from the habit:

    1. Ask your child to help out around the house.

    Teaching kids to do chores at a young age is crucial because they develop skills and values that they would need to navigate adulthood. (Here are five life skills they will learn from it.)

    2. Set expectations of gratitude.

    Make gratefulness a regular habit. Teach your child to say ‘thank you’ when someone does nice things for him, like a parent making him meals or a playmate sharing toys with him.

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    3. Teach your child to be responsible for his things.

    If he loses a toy, makes a mess, or breaks something, let him make up for it by assigning him extra chores around the house. Only then should you replace the lost item.

    4. Enforce your rules.

    Giving your child rules and limits will guide him on what behavior you expect of him. But make sure to also follow-through with the consequences if any of those rules are broken.

    5. Be on the same page with your husband/partner.

    You might curb your overindulgent ways, but it won’t have any effect on your child if your husband decides to play ‘good cop.’ "When children see that mom and dad are on the same page when it comes to disciplining them, they'll understand that they can't get away with their misbehavior and avoid repeating it.

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