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Spoiled children - and its consequences

Spoiled children - and its consequences
Spoiled children - and its consequences
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Spoiling children has a significant impact on their development. With too much help and support, it can happen that the young person loses his zest to take action. The way they are dealing with the world around them can be quite alarming. They tend to be needy and expect too much from other people while on the other hand are not willing to give easily. They lack the willingness to achieve and to take responsibility for their own actions.

In large this is because the self-confidence of these boys and girls never could develop properly. Their parents did everything for them and they did not challenge them enough. In most cases, this results from the prenatal instinct to protect the offspring. However, in some case this exceeds this natural predisposition.

We want to make our children's lives as simple as possible, live should be easier for them as it once was for us. We wish for them a pleasant and easy life. I am sure, many people would agree with this. Basically, what you want for your child is an enjoyable and carefree life; which is an honourable idea. If that encompasses fundamentals things such as no wars and violence, no suffering or shortage on primary needs, every psychologist will agree with this. However, sometimes the strategies to offer the young person a great life, are going way too far. If we attend to the child’s every whim, this only appears great on the surface. Appearances deceive - a lot. The danger here is overprotection of the child and this has serious consequences for the young person. Many carry the consequences of an overprotected family with them for life.

The biggest problem for those children is the step to independence. No matter how protected they grew up at one point they have to cope alone – a step they are not prepared for at all. If a spoiled child has to cope independently later in life, it is almost set up for failure. It starts with little challenges such as keeping their home clean, right through to tougher problems like living to a certain budget. This mismanagement can be the first step to a dangerously high debt. In most cases, you can’t even blame the young adult because he has never learned to deal independently with sudden problems and, therefore, is not up for the many challenges of life. The chance to develop this side of life was taken away from them already at childhood. It was, of course, well-intentioned, but non-the-less very harmful to their further life. This insight, of course, can be frightening to some parents. The line of where care ends and indulgent starts are blurred or in extreme cases invisible.

Children must be allowed to stumble and fall

The good news is, it is not all that complicated. If you know just a little bit of the learning processes in life, then it becomes relatively easy to connect the dots. The bad news is, that this knowledge is neither passed on by our parents nor is it taught at school. In this regard, we have no choice. We either have to acquire this knowledge ourselves or get this information some other way. The reality is, we have to draw a very clear and logical line. It is obvious, as soon as our child encounters a dangerous situation, parents are required to intervene. Otherwise, this just offers another challenge to the child to learn something new. If you make those early years easy for your child, you just make it all that harder for them later in life.

Take this simple example: your child tries to climb up a ladder in your backyard. Don't try to hold it back. Let him climb up, but if he falls down be there to catch him. Only through this process, is the child able to learn, that climbing a ladder is maybe not just fun, but might mean that you can fall as well. However, this is just a small example, but it’s the principle by which children should be allowed to learn. That little example with the ladder contains a learning experience on which the child can build. Each learning process, especially during childhood, affects the rest of his life several times over. Therefore, it is so important to let children make mistakes rather than trying to prevent them from happening. People can only lead a successful life if they had plenty of experiences to learn. Man seems to learn primarily from his own mistakes. Advice and tips to help only so far. Most of the time we have to experience this for ourselves. For this reason, it is important to give children as much freedom as possible and only stop them if it really gets too dangerous. Otherwise, they are allowed to stumble and fall – even that might be quite painful for the parents.

Recognizing indulgent quickly and easily

Indulgence in the earlier years of a child’s life is easier identified in the parent’s behaviour rather than in the child’s behaviour. Do they solve all their children’s problem or do they give them a go, tackling their own challenges? Are they too prepared to do everything for their children or are the kids required to do things for themselves? Answer those questions and you will pretty quickly see where the parents are heading. However, the older the child gets, the easier it becomes to identify an indulgent personality.

There are some clear and unambiguous signs that suggest a fastidious behaviour. This makes it easy – even without the help of a psychologist – to find out whether your child is fastidious. This starts with simple things like that the children do not think for themselves and wait, even for the smallest challenges, of the answers of others. However, that on its own must not mean this child is spoiled. It always takes a few more indicators to be present. Some of those alarming signs are:

  • the child shows a low willingness to achieve something

  • it gives up easily, when confronted with new and difficult tasks

  • demands a lot of attention and recognition

In addition those pointers must be present over a longer period. After all, it is possible that the child is only going through a difficult phase of his life. But even if the child goes through a difficult phase of life, children must be given the chance to tackle challenges themselves. After all later in life there is no one to do it for them either. In general spoiled people give themselves away by taking too much from others while only giving little in return. The claims are so high that others are no longer willing to fulfil them.

Too much attention and too little responsibility

Such a behaviour you can, as already mentioned above, observe, especially then, when children and adolescents lived a protected life and had not learned to solve their problems individually. Many parents are too impatient with their children, especially in the early years, that they help them too much. They are helping the child to get dressed, brush their teeth, cleaning up their toys and later down the track help too much with the child’s homework. Often this is well-intentioned assistance. However, if the child never has to do anything for himself, he does learn something after all. He learns that if he can’t or even doesn’t want to do anything, there is always someone else who would do it for him. Those children are literally under-challenged. Children are losing their independence before it could fully develop. Small things have to be learned by the child and should not be taken over by the parent. Sometimes the parent really means well, however, there is also a grain of impatience at play. However way you turn this, children simply need the appropriate time to learn. Children need to take on more and more responsibilities for their lives.

They need to learn, an error they make, they also need to make right again. This should not be done by the parents and the support they give should only be very limited and that only then, when there is no other way. If the child spends all his pocket money already in the first day, it needs to learn that it will have to wait another week for his next pocket money. Likewise, if he misses the bus, preferably he should not be taken with the car. Not to school and not to his buddy either. He can take the next bus or walk or solve his problem any other way. It is important though that the child or young person understands that this is not a punishment but a logical consequence of his own behaviour. Children need to take on responsibility as early as possible and as much as possible. This does not mean that you can’t bring your kid to school once or twice a year when he’s missed the bus. But the child needs to understand that this is an exception and not normalcy. If he, however, keeps missing the bus, he has to solve his own problem.

An only child is under the greatest threat of overprotection. And those families where one parent is always at home. In this setting, children get the most attention and also know how to exploit it. Parents are not to let that to go on. Even if the child needs a great deal of care, too much is never the answer. However, parents need to check with their own motivations as well. It is not unknown that spoiling the child happens out of individual self-serving interests. The apartment should be tidy all the time and so the chaos in the children’s room will be tidied up too or at least the parent provides a great deal of help with the cleaning up. However, that is not the right way to do. Usually, if parents take on this responsibility of the child, it is also not requested to take on other household responsibilities. The learning experience: others do it for me anyway. It is important for children to take on little tasks such as taking out the garbage or doing the dishes. Ideally, the number of tasks increases with age. Care is good but too much of it is not. Otherwise, they will expect the same from their friends, colleagues and superiors. In most cases, however, they will not find the same level of personal significance. It is only normal that you get more attention at home than anywhere else, but the difference between home and real life should not gape too much.

The consequences later in life

It is not unheard of that young adults do not ever want to move out but prefer their stay at Hotel-Mom. In a way that is understandable. Out in the world, they would have to do everything themselves. At home, all your needs are cared for. The apartment is clean, your clothes are washed and the fridge is full. This is a very protected and safe environment. Leaving there would mean giving up this safety. Spoiled children have never learned to be bold, to be brave. Therefore, safety is an essential value in their lives. Consequently, with their feet up on the table they will continue their comfortable lives. This only leads to further dependency on their parents. Self-determination and independence fall further and further behind. At the same time, this deprives them off real happiness and letting their potential go to waste too. Having said all that, every parent’s top priority, therefore, should be to raise their children to independent and responsible adults.

If the spoilt young adult after all decides to move out from home, he is likely to experience a very difficult time. That’s the moment where he jumps off the metaphorical cliff - some not without a push. Before they know it, they have to learn to fly and that without any preparation. All the challenges, problems and worries of everyday life hit the young person at once. Everything he has not learned so far he has to catch up on - quickly. Trying to save him from life’s challenges hasn’t got him anywhere after all. However, now it is much harder to learn all those lessons compared with learning them more naturally while growing up. Now he is personally responsible for his life and the things at hand. This is incredibly difficult for someone who has never learned independent thinking or acting responsibly. For some young adults, life becomes a downright battle, which they can only win when making up for missed opportunities. It would have been better if it did not get that far in the first place.

Tips to avoid spoiling your children

For not letting the situation escalate like in the example above, children should not be overprotected. Besides enjoying childhood, they also should be prepared for the real life. Enjoyment of life is a beautiful thing, but it should not only be reserved for childhood. If childhood is a declared play time, subsequently, the rest of the child’s life becomes a coping marathon for all those missed childhood issues. It is important to raise children to self-assured and strong personalities. Pampering and overprotecting the child won’t do this. The child needs the right amount of care, which includes effort from the child as well.

Children must be allowed to stumble and fall and make as many mistakes as they possibly can. It’s a human condition to make mistakes, learn from them and make real progress. Advice is good; chances, however, are that you will make the mistake anyway. It’s just in our nature. We only trust something if we really understand it and believe this to be true. Therefore in many cases the mistake is a necessity to arrive at this particular understanding. The best strategy against spoiling your child is to always let them do things independently, according to their age. And of course, you can help them when needed. It almost goes without saying, answering their questions is part of the process. Never exaggerate with your help. Every day children need the chance to give it another go. The example of getting dressed is very appropriate here. At the beginning, of course, a small child will need help to get dressed. However, his ability to expand will only grow if he gets a new chance, a new opportunity every day.

How is the youth worker supposed to deal with spoiled children?

It is difficult for youth worker when an already very spoiled child comes to them. The motto there should be helping the child to gain some independence by breaking tasks into as small as possible steps. Everyone can learn to shake off his overprotected, spoiled past. Sometimes this is not an easy process, but youth worker have the chance to encourage independence continuously in minuscule steps. Some of those strategies would be: the child could take on some small responsibilities for the youth group, demand punctuality and let the kids take turns in deciding on youth group related things. In ever longer intervals, the child learns to decide about certain things. Not just is it allowed to so, in the youth group he has to do so.

Another way is trying to talk to the child. If you even manage to build a level of trust with the child, you might get the chance to influence important questions and do so with a motivational response. In such situations, It is always important not to harass the child in terms of reprimanding him. The young person might feel attacked, starting to defend himself. It is always better using small and continuous steps to move the child into a better direction instead of overwhelming him with excessive demands.

On a youth camp, spoiled children usually become evident very quickly. He will try to get out of kitchen duties or other little chores where help is needed. He might give you answers, such as “Do I really have to do that?” or even “I can’t do that”. As already mentioned spoiled children are quick to demand, but slow when it comes to giving something back to the community. I experienced children that even made demands about what should be done. However, if you ask those kids to help to prepare lunch, they are masters of getting out of every task allocated to them, they “growl” or just refuse to do so.

If the child then after all gets “condemned” to kitchen duties it turns out that this child has never peeled a potato, a cucumber or carrot with a paring knife.

Another example would be picking up their identity card when they turn 16.This card could be there ready for them to pick up for weeks and still, the teen hopes, somehow (magically) someone would pick it up for him. In this instance we are not even dealing with small children but with youth.

The overprotection at home must have been so immense, the child never was challenged to do something for himself. And that's precisely the problem. You can’t really blame the child or young person. Basically, this ineptness is not his fault. The turned out accordingly to what he was allowed to develop.

If the child was not permitted to gather experiences, negative ones included, or to make mistakes, how can he now have confidence in himself? And what it has learned anyway? - Just one thing: there is always someone who does it all for me.

It will almost always be impossible to “wean” a child from its spoiled nature during the short time of a camp. On the one hand, these children are exhausting because of their “blessed are the ones who take” mentality and secondly because they don’t give themselves any credit to do something well.

Therefore, I can only give you this advice:

  • Everyone is equal: don’t give the spoiled child any special treatment, require tasks from them just as you do with other kids. After all, the other camp participants would not accept for one kid to be treated differently.

  • Challenging equals perfection: thus the child gains confidence and learns, perhaps the first time in his life, that there is someone who trusts the child to fulfil a task.

  • Give encouragement: even if something does it’s not that bad. This should not give a reason for criticism. The child should be encouraged to try again. This way the child will learn independence in small things.

  • Be consistent and set limits: these children have to learn that every (not) action is followed by consequences.

Two things can happen:

  • Because the child does not get the full attention it will try to adapt (after all there are friends in the camp as well), or ...

  • Homesickness: the child can give up, wanting to go back home to Hotel-Mom. In both cases, I would not give up easily.

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