You’re a totally proud parent. And why shouldn’t you be? Your child is entirely awesome, and she knows it. How does she know it? Well, probably because you indulge her every little whim and fancy. Okay, okay, it’s perfectly alright to indulge your child every once in a while. Maybe even more than that. But when it gets to the point that she’s acting more like a dictator than a daughter, you’ve got a problem.
So how much indulgence should you provide? That’s not an easy question to answer. That said, read on for some tips on judging what’s too much and when to say no:
Expecting More Than Just Enough
How much do you expect of your child? You might think it’s more than it actually is. Indulgence doesn’t only equal giving too many material ‘things’. It’s also about giving too much of yourself.
Obviously, you want to give yourself to your child. You’re a parent, that’s kind of in the job description. But there comes a point when you’re doing everything and expecting very little from your child.
Chances are you’ve heard the term “helicopter mom.” Not only does she hover, but she does, and does, and does some more, for her child. She does so much that suddenly there are no (or very few) expectations put on the child. And that’s not good for anyone.
If you find yourself doing 90% of the work, step back. If you find yourself doing 60% of the work, step back too. If you find yourself doing 40% of the work, you can also probably take a seat – at least for now.
There’s no need to expect your child to act like a mini adult. But you also shouldn’t expect her to act like an infant. That is, unless she is one. By giving a little less, you’re raising the bar for her. This allows her to take control and take pride in her accomplishments. Which, by the way, is a feeling she’ll never have if you’re doing, doing, doing all the time.
Learning to Say No
“Mommmmmmy! I want a cookie. Now!” You’ve been there. It’s 45 minutes until dinner, you’re rushing your way through the mall and your preschooler spies the cookie kiosk. Those oversized frosted chocolate chip beauties look pretty amazing to her right now.
You say, “Sorry honey, but it’s too close to dinner-time.” Which is met with, “But mommmmmmmy, I want one.” And then the tears start flowing.
Oh that sad little face. You just can’t deprive her so you give in. And this isn’t the first time or the last. Yesterday, you caved when she wanted that super-fluffy teddy bear (which she played with for 15 minutes before discarding it to the bottom of the toy bin) and tomorrow you’ll probably buy her yet another pair of sparkly princess shoes that she just has to have, but doesn’t really need.
Yes, you feel like a bad mom or dad not giving your child everything her heart desires. But that’s overindulging her. Do you really want her to grow up thinking she can snap her fingers and get whatever she wants? That’s not how the real world works.
Scale back. Sure, it’s okay to give her what she wants sometimes. Make it count, and give it for a reason. Maybe she was extremely patient while you tried on several dozen pairs of shoes. Then, reward her with that cookie. Maybe she got an “A” on her vocab test. Then get her that well-deserved toy.
The key to indulgence (and to avoiding overindulgence) is setting limits. Not just random limits, but concrete and realistic ones.
This means giving your child structure and rules to follow. Oh, and sticking to your limits too. Work as a family team to set household rules. These can extend into areas such as asking for new toys, screen time, allowance/money you pay for activities or anything else that you think is important.
Remember, it’s okay to give. Just not all of the time. Limits don’t negate love. It’s actually the opposite. By not overindulging your child, you’re showing her that you care. Really.