Unspoil Your Child: 9 Tips to Break Old Habits
As parents, we are all trying to do our best to provide for our children the best start in life. There is a lot to balance, and it is a constant worry whether you are giving too much or too little of everything. The last thing you want to do is spoil your child too much, but a lot of moms will agree that it feels better to give too much than not enough.
Your child will be demanding. The inevitable tantrums will kick in when they do not get what they want. The easy way out is to yield to this and get restore peace and quiet as soon as possible. This is a habit that can lead to a perpetual cycle of tantrums and caving in that is hard to break free from.
You don’t have to feel that you are a bad parent because of the way that your child is behaving. You will feel stuck at times, but if you follow these nine simple tips you can work towards breaking the cycle and unspoil your child a little bit at a time.
Table of Contents
Cause and Effect
This is the first thing that your child needs to understand. Take the time to explain that every negative action will lead to negative consequences.
You might think that it is early to teach your child about these concepts. Our view is that it is never too early. The discipline and principles you apply to your child is what they will carry through adulthood, and the sooner you can establish that foundation the better.
When met with the tantrums for not getting their way, discuss it with them. Help him verbalized what he is feeling during those times. Since we are encouraging proper communication, make him aware how others are being affected because of his negative behavior.
Chances are he is not aware and not he is just doing it because this is the only type of behavior that he knows.
It would also help if you cite examples of things that he has already experienced. If he has experienced toothache in the past, explain that this happened because he refuses to take care of his teeth properly.
The negative action is him not following your reminders and the negative consequence is the tooth ache. It is also best to site positive situations as well to help make more sense and to bring more balance into the discussion.
Be a Proactive Parent
Some self-discipline is required to be proactive parents and explain to the child why his behavior is not acceptable. The easy option is to just say no without explaining why, or to give in to the demands just for some peace and quiet.
These are easy habits to fall into, but over the long term you will reap what you sew. By making a conscious effort with your child you will set a great example, and teach them some valuable principles along the way.
Change your View of Discipline
Discipline is not synonymous with corporal punishment. Consequences are important, but discipline advocates teaching rather than punishment.
Disciplining your child means teaching them how to handle emotions. They need to learn how to calm themselves when faced with a stressful situation. Reassure them that it is okay to feel upset because even mom and dad gets upset.
What matters is the way you will react to it. For example, if he gets upset with a playmate because he took away his toy. It is okay to feel upset but it is not okay to hit or lash out at his playmate.
Remember that discipline is not waging war against your child. You are teaching your child life skills and how to behave as a responsible adult in the future.
Encourage the use of words
When your child is upset, a tantrum is an opportunity to encourage him to really say what he feels. For example, you can say, “I understand that you are feeling upset now but I need to know why. Because if I don’t know why, I cannot do anything about it.”
This is true for you as well. Learn to communicate with your child and express while you do not like the way that he is behaving.
The style or the way you discipline your child needs to be consistent for both parents. You don’t want to confuse your child because you are implementing different style of disciplining your child.
Having open discussions on child discipline regularly will be the cornerstone of making sure that you are on the same page. Chances that you will both have different styles of parenting instilled in you by your own parents. Some collaboration here can go a long way.
It is never a good idea for you and your partner to argue in front of your child on disciplinary issues. A united front will prevent the child from becoming confused, and remove the opportunity for disciplinary loopholes to be exploited in the future – E.g. Approaching a more agreeable parent for permission to do or have something.
This alone will make your lives much easier in the future and minimize the possible friction between you and your partner that may come from disapproval of the other’s decision.
Practice Delayed Gratification
We live in the age of instant gratification everywhere we look. Smart TVs, phones and internet give us everything we need at our fingertips whenever we want it. How many of you can honestly say you will wait for a street light to change before reaching for your phone?
This daily conditioning for instant gratification will be relayed to your kids subconsciously. So you will have to make an effort to both teach patience as well as demonstrate patience.
The requests from your child will be very different. They don’t want phones and facebook (yet), they want sundaes, a stickers, candy etc. We might think that it is harmless to give in to simple request just to see them smile, but always keep things in moderation. Conditioning your child to this instant gratification will lead to long term pain for your both.
Delayed gratification will teach them to appreciate the things they have more, and be more grateful when they receive something they have badly wanted. It will also teach them the difference between a want and a need. Often a little bit of time is all that is needed to learn this lesson.
Another way that you can do this is to introduce a rewards system when they are old enough. If they work for something they want, then there are valuable life skills to be learned on the value of things, pursuing goals and making their own decisions. By giving in too easily you will deprive them of this.
Learn how to manage meltdowns
The way to manage a meltdown is quite simple – you have to grit your teeth and ignore it. Ignore the crying, the twirling, the tears, the sobbing, the feet stomping. This is hard enough at home, and in public you will also have to put up with the judging eyes of those around you. Mommy of the year award anyone?
It will take a heart of steel to do this, but it is all about consistency. You can’t change the rules when in the public to save yourself a little embarrassment. Your child will not understand this. When the meltdown is starting, hold your ground and say something like:
“We talked about this at home remember? It is up to you – if you will continue crying because I will not give you what you want. So you can either stop what you are doing and we can move on or just cry there.”
This is going to be tough at first, but as they learn that they cannot manipulate a situation the tantrums should become happen less often and be less intense.
Practice common sense with this one. Make sure that your child is not in danger and is not hurting himself or others. If the meltdown is happening in a public place and you think you are going to disrupt an occasion or an event, calmly take your child to the car or to a discreet place to discuss things.
Keep Calm and Show Your Kids How It’s Done
Stop for a while and examine yourself. How do act when you’re throwing a fit? Do you yell at the counter and argue with the cashier? You are probably stomping your feet while doing it.
After this self-reflection exercise, take a look at how your child throws a tantrum. Does he mimic you in any way? The answer will probably be yes.
Now this all sounds good in theory, but the reality is far tougher. Just the fact that you have made it this far shows that you are ready to make an effort for your child and make the tough choices.
Teaching your child about discipline is a journey for both you and your child. If you want a child that has self-discipline he needs to see that you have it as well.
Watch out for signs that you are about to give in to your feelings. This can be an increase in breathing, redness or even increase heart rate. Walk out of the room for a while, take a few deep breaths and pause.
When you’re ready, go back to discuss things with your child.
Good luck, and stay strong!!