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  Children's Health

May 2010
6 Ways to Unspoil Your Child
Dr Sreedevi Yadavalli
 
You are a busy parent. Your love for the apple of your eye demands that you indulge in the form of a trinket here or a toy there. Somehow, before you realise it, it all adds up to a kid who expects to get whatever she asks for. Well, here’s what you can do, to undo the damage by unspoiling your child.

Acknowledge that the problem starts with you
We are probably trying to compensate for what we didn’t have as children, or maybe assuaging some parental guilt, or simply assuring ourselves that our children love us. Whatever the reason, figuring out why you spoil your child is the first step to desist from it.

Convert the demand-reward to rule-consequence
Make a conscious attempt to alter the demand-reward pattern as in “If you behave, I will buy you a treat.” Instead, frame rules and consequences, as in “I will buy you ice cream tomorrow if you finish your dinner without whining today. And no ice cream if you don’t.”

Don’t give in and break your rule
Children can resort to prolonged discussions about why they have to obey a rule like “You can’t go out to play until you finish your homework.” They try to negotiate, whine, sulk, and repeat the refrain “But why?” over and over, until we give up out of sheer exasperation. A survey found that kids will ask for an average of nine times before the parents cave in! Stay put. Repeat your simple “No” even for the ninth time, and your child will obey.

Resist peer pressure
When nothing works, children may resort to the ultimate pressure tactic of making the parent feel guilty: “But all the other children go out to play and do their homework later!” For this, your strategy depends on what the discussion is about. If it’s about a new video game, you may make a rule about it: “I will buy it for you over the weekend,” and make your child wait until the appointed day. If it’s about homework, then stick to your guns, and try: “You can catch up with their play if you stop arguing and get on with your homework, fast.”

Give in once in a way, to bring in good cheer
Surprise your child on the fifth day of the rule with something like, “Ok. Since tomorrow is a Sunday, you can do your homework in the morning. You can go out and play now.”

Indulge in non-material joys
Play a game with your child. Hang out together at the ice cream shop, or just watch a movie together. It adds up to good bonding and makes them aware that there are joys that money can’t buy. Remember that by unspoiling, we do not mean loving any lesser; as a parent you can show them your love by showing them you care and hence the strict rules. Show your child that love is not materialistic!

    
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