Here’s your parenting guide to instil the right discipline and responsibilities in your child!
Picture this: At a supermarket, your 10-year-old demands that you buy him a box of chocolates. When you refuse, he throws a tantrum and since you don’t want to create a scene in front of him, you relent and your son goes home happier. Well, surely, most parents must have come across such a situation at least once in their life. However, have you ever thought of the number of times you’ve given in to your kid’s demands? Chances are that it’s more than often and you might be raising a spoilt child. Says consulting psychiatrist Dr Pavan Sonar, “From my experience, I do believe that children today are more spoilt than their previous generation. When we see the behaviour of children of this generation, the basic qualities of attentiveness and respect towards elderly, social manners and discipline is absent in most of them. Abiding by the laws set by parents or society are carelessly ignored by kids today.”
So, who’s at fault?
According to clinical psychologist Saloni Sawnani, blaming the kid and labelling him/her as ‘spoilt’ is unfair. “It is more parents’ faulty upbringing of the kid that leads him/her to be spoilt. The earlier generation of parents was more relaxed and had more time for their kids. However, with most parents working today, they don’t spend enough time with their kids, so they make up by giving in to their demands and as a result, the child is spoilt,” she says.
Signs your child is spoilt
Does your child behave insensitively to others? Does he or she want his demands met immediately? “Sometimes, a child might be genetically more energetic than the others, which leads to hyperactivity and you might mistakenly label him/her as spoilt. By five years of age, most children are able to communicate their feelings clearly. So, you need verify their behaviour and channel the aggression positively,” says Saloni.
According to Dr Sonar, a spoilt brat is not ready to follow family or social etiquette. “The kid frequently demands money or gadgets. He/she has poor emotional control, throws tantrums, whines most of the times, doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer, misbehaves with peers and argues with parents,” he elaborates.
How to deal with it
Don’t label: “Understand why your child is behaving the way he/she does. Hear him/her out and find solutions. Most importantly, don’t complain that your kid is spoilt to your family members or guests, especially not in front of the kid,” says Saloni.
Know when to say no: Agreeing and giving in to everything your child says sends out a wrong message. Giving in to the tantrums tells your kid that all he/she has to do is cry and whine to get what he/she wants. When you say ‘no’ to your kid’s demands, he/she knows that everything in life has a value and he/she has to work towards something if they want it badly.
Be consistent: During the initial years, you might pass off your kid’s bad behaviour as just being cute but in the long run, it could have an adverse effect on your child. So, be consistent in your discipline methods. Set some rules and ensure that they are followed consistently. For instance, if jumping on a couch is not allowed at your place, stop him/her from doing so when at a friend’s place.
Reward for good behaviour: Instead of bribing your kid by saying ‘If you do this, you will get this’, reward your kid when he/she displays good behaviour. “Affection always helps your kid,” says Saloni. Adds Dr Sonar, “Abolish bad behaviour by rewarding the desirable ones. Awards should be very small gifts or token points.”
Teach manners and values: “Storytelling is a great way to teach morals and values to your kid,” says Dr Sonar. Instil values of responsibility, sharing, friendliness and sensitivity towards others in your child through various moral tales. Set a good example in front of your kids when it comes to good manners.
Bond over chores: If your kid is in his/her pre-teens, assign a task every day, whether it is helping you out with the laundry or tidying his/her study table. Teach your child that each member of the family needs to contribute towards taking care of the home and each other.
Set expectations: “Try to understand the reason for your child’s behaviour and set certain expectations. Effective communication with the kid is very crucial. Teach them to express their emotions, that is, what and how they are feeling, instead of what they want,” says Dr Sonar.