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Avoid Spoiling Your Toddler

by Lori Sciame | September 14th, 2011 | Infants/Toddlers

Spoil. This word brings to mind negative connotations, including spoiled food in the refrigerator, and the rain that spoils an outdoor party. When we use this word while describing a toddler, temper tantrums and incessant whining probably come to mind.

Parents of a baby know you can’t really spoil a newborn. These little ones need food, love, care, and shelter; however, when a child grows, he or she can become spoiled rather quickly if mom and dad never correct negative actions.

I vividly remember a three year-old, Jon. The only child of an older couple, this toddler literally controlled the lives of his parents. He dictated whatever he could, everything from his eating to his sleeping schedules. Although I was only two years older than Jon, I hated to be around him. He never wanted to share toys, he always accused me of slighting him in some way, and his nose seemed to be perpetually running from crying.

As I look back from the standpoint of a parent, I feel sorry for Jon. Here was a little boy given full reign over his life. Clearly, Jon’s parents loved him greatly, yet by indulging him all the time, they negatively affected his attitude. They acted as if he were king of the world, yet the poor child didn’t have the capability to carry out the role his parents forced upon him.

How, then, does a parent of a toddler avoid spoiling his or her child? The following list will provide you with some ideas.

1. Set limits and establish schedules.

Children need boundaries in order to feel safe and secure. Let your toddler know that some items, such as the fireplace, curling/flat irons, swimming pools, are out of bounds. Be firm. Also, by establishing eating and sleeping schedules, you present your child a life that has order. Believe me, a toddler likes routine.

2. Teach manners early.

Please and thank you go a long way. By giving your child the gift of manners, he or she learns that life presents itself as a give and take situation. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine.” This sentiment must have been first expressed by someone whose parents spoiled him or her! Teach your toddler the opposite viewpoint.

3. Take action when your child “acts up.”

As you know, every toddler cries for candy in the grocery store. This is because they are NORMAL; however, a child who begins acting up all the time, with no consequences, can become spoiled. I am not an advocate of spanking, slapping, or verbal abuse. I firmly believe that when a toddler acts up, as in the case of begging for candy in the store, a parent must say “no,” and mean it. No caving in! And if the crying and tantrum continue, the parent must leave the store immediately. The same goes for tantrums in restaurants…just leave. By removing the child calmly…the crisis is averted, and the child begins to understand the idea of consequences.

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