Avoid Overindulging Your
Copyright © 2011 Tina Feigal, Parenting Coach and Speaker
As we all know, it is remarkably easy to give in to the demands of an intense child, just to create peace for one moment! You are with relatives, and know that a fit could occur if you remain firm, so you take the path of least resistance. Or you are at home, and need to get out the door for a soccer game or doctor’s appointment. You give in to the child who refuses to get into the car by over-promising something you can’t or don’t want to deliver. We know that all of this can undermine your authority, leaving you to feel guilty about being an ineffective parent, but what is going on for the child? Author and researcher Jeanne Illsley Clarke has found that as overindulged children grow into adulthood, they are burdened with lowered self-esteem as parents, dysfunctional attitudes, and decreased adaptability in the family.
So what can we do to help children grow into healthy, loving adults? How can we prepare them now for their future roles as workers, parents, and spouses? One technique is to be sure that kids feel needed. Recognize that being needed is a basic human need in itself. Create roles for each child, based on their strengths, and uphold those roles as special and necessary whenever you can. Use their talents and strengths in real-life situations, where you actually need help. If you feel you can get it done better and faster by doing it yourself, even though your child could do it, stop yourself right there. Whenever that feeling comes over you, remember that it is a warning sign that you might be missing an opportunity to give your child what she needs. It’s time to slow down now, offer the child a chance to perform a task she’s good at, and pat yourself on the back for assuring her happy adulthood.
Another way to help children avoid the pitfalls of overindulgence is to plan ahead for challenging situations. If you have the decisions made in advance about whether you are going to leave the store with a toy, or without a toy, you are relieved of the possibility of an argument. If your child resists your already-made decision, remain cool and sure of yourself. “We made that decision already,” is all you need to say. Have the child have a do-over or take a break if he argues further.
You may also want to check the calendar to see if you might be overindulging your kids. If you are giving all your time to their activities, and have no time for your spouse or significant other (or yourself), that’s a good sign that things need adjusting. It is REMARKABLY EASY to get into the mindset that if my child isn’t in every conceivable activity in the third grade, he will miss out on something vital to his happiness. It’s just not so. Overindulgence causes him to miss out on something vital to his happiness … the ability to entertain himself in his own way. Decrease the amount of outside activity; give your children time, art supplies, and space. Turn off the TV, set some expectations for an afternoon of creativity, and watch what happens.
Let go of any guilt for possible overindulgence you might have used in the past. It’s a natural response to having a challenging child, without exception. But with new information to motivate your actions, make a plan for reducing overindulgence and bringing balance back to life.
And as always, let me know if you could use some personalized coaching on this topic. Visit www.parentingmojo.com/parent-coaching or call 651-453-0123 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting for an appointment.