By spoiling we mean giving children too many of the ‘things’ they think they want. This falls under the parenting style of permissive parenting where children become overindulged and adults around them follow their wishes rather than saying No!
In the UAE permissive parenting is very common, as we see many children spending large numbers of hours either in nurseries or with nannies and commonly these people are ‘working’ with our children and their use of limits and boundaries can be lower than children need. Working parents often talk also of feeling guilt because they don’t spend enough time with their children, especially if they work long hours or travel for work. We commonly see this a lot in the UAE. Therefore out of guilt it becomes harder for parents to say NO to their child’s wishes and they can tend to overcompensate and this can lead to buying them what they want.
What are the dangers of spoiling your kids?
Spoiled children can come to expect they can have whatever they want whenever they want it. This, however, is not how life is as an adult so therefore children raised this way can be poorly prepared for adult hood.
Spoiled children can also be used to being given more than they need and often what they want and they can miss the understanding that we have to work hard for something or earn it . They also come to expect things NOW and can struggle with the concept of delayed gratification. Therefore if they have to wait for something they want they can become very angry at not having something instantly.
Celebrations such as birthdays and special holidays can also lose their meaning when children are given too much year round.
Children can stop attaching value and meaning to things if they have too many. Eg: The Barbie doll can get lost amongst the 10 other Barbie dolls.
Children also get used to following fads like: Trashies, Baber blades etc and fall victim to being the ultimate consumers rather than learning how to make their own fun. They can become used to having toys that have one function and this can hamper their own creativity and problem solving. They don’t need to make their own hut if they have a perfect Little Tykes play house in the garden.
Children with too many toys tend to not play with them as much and need a lot more entertaining. They don’t know how to make their own fun.
How can we rectify it?
Encourage your children to earn things they really want.
Teach your children the value of money by giving them an allowance and teaching them about saving up for something they’d like.
Ensure you only buy things for your children during special events and holidays such as birthdays and keep gifts outside of these times as necessary items only.
Buy your children consumable items for gifts during the year that encourage creativity and problem solving, such as craft items and items they can make a project out of.
Rotate the toys they have and don’t have them all out and accessible at once. Hide many of their toys and only have a few on display. If a child hasn’t seen a toy for a while it will become fun again, almost like a new toy.
When you buy gifts think about what purpose it will serve: fine motor skills, such as lego and beads for threading, or gross motor skills such as bikes, scooters and trampolines.
Start to teach your children about giving and not just receiving.
Encourage them to make gifts, cards, cookies etc for others.
What would be your advice for parents who have a tendency to overindulge?
Consider why you are overindulging your children.
It is often about you serving a need within yourself rather than doing something of benefit for your child. It can come from your own sense of guilt for being too busy to spend time with you children, your inability to say NO to them and desire to indulge their every need, or your belief that they must have things you did not get to have as a child. If you believe these are the reasons you are overindulging your child you could consider seeking support for yourself to focus on these underlying issues or attend a parenting education session to gain skills into new ways of being with your child.
What your child needs and want is time with you. They want a time each day of your undivided attention where you are following their lead and enjoying them and laughing and being loving together. They want this more than any toys you could shower them with You can of course overindulge children by giving them too much of your time as well, so the focus here is on balance.
Focus on connection.