Michael J. Prince, B.A., Psychology


The Child Spoiled?

Here's a checklist for identifying a spoiled child:

•Is your child overindulged? When you're out shopping, if she sees a Barbie doll she must have, do you buy it if even though she already has several?

•Does she demand center stage? When a group of friends or family gather, does she interrupt and insist everyone focus attention on her?

•Can she delay gratification? If she asks for a cookie and you tell her she must wait until after dinner, does she whine and plead? Do you end up giving in?

•Does she follow through with her responsibilities? When it's time to put her blocks away, does she throw a temper tantrum so you end up completing the job for her?

If you answer "yes" to these questions, you might be raising a "spoiled child" but it's not too late to remedy the affliction.

When your daughter demands a new Barbie doll, tell her, "I know you really want her, she is beautiful. You wish you could have a new Barbie every day, but you can't. You can cry, whine and beg, but I'm not going to buy it."

When your child draws attention to herself, move toward her, touch her, allow her a little recognition, but if she goes on and on, direct her onto another activity or out of the room. If she frequently interrupts, see that she waits at least one minute before you'll turn your attention to her. Say, "I know you have something important to say, but you must wait one minute until Grandma finishes talking." Ignore any antics that might follow.

If she whines and pleads for that one extra cookie, stick by your "no." When she learns to gracefully manage herself when you deny her every whim, she builds her character.

When she refuses to put her blocks away, insist that she follow through. You can help, and be sure to compliment any feeble attempt at first, but see that she does some of it.

Most important, please don't equate indulgence, attention, instant gratification and no responsibilities to love. Proceed confidently knowing that by helping her reduce her spoiled tendencies, you're parenting in her best interest. You've got your work cut out for you right now, but it will pay off in the long run. Soon you'll have a better behaved and more enjoyable child.