The term “spoil” has dual meanings in English, both positive (coddle) and negative (impair). This duality also exists in the behavioral aspect: on the one hand, spoiling is a natural and important part of every parent-child relationship, as it makes a child feel loved and at the center of attention, which is an important emotion for the development of a child’s ego in his early years.
On the other, spoiling might prevent the child from taking part in age-appropriate activities. Usually, such spoiling makes the child excessively dependent on his parent. Spoiled children feel constantly uncertain, are little aware of social boundaries, have difficulty coping with their environment and developing social relations.
The starting point when discussing spoiling is that it serves an unsatisfied need that the child has. Therefore, first and foremost, you must determine whether a specific act of spoiling is due to manipulation or an authentic sense of inefficacy. Analyzing drawings helps understand the reason behind each case. Understanding the reason then helps us find the right solution.
Spoiled child The parents of the 6½ year-old who made the following drawing tell that they dress their son every morning before sending him off to school. Most children are capable of dressing on their own at age six, but they prefer dressing him because “he doesn’t manage well by himself, so he becomes nervous and starts shouting”.
This drawing and the human figures in it represent a low and regressive drawing level, which is age inappropriate and indicates on low self image. The boy’s constant feeling is that he is incapable of performing simple tasks, so he desperately needs his parents’ assistance. In this case, it is important to let him handle the task on his own, in order to let him gain appreciation of his inner strengths.
Usually, when it comes to spoiling, it is the tip of the iceberg. In other words, many children have troubling issues, but the reasons for them are different.
The key to the solution is to understand whether the child’s spoiling is because of power struggle or manipulation – in other words, that he is trying to control his parents – or truly believes that he is incapable of accomplishing certain tasks. If you have identified the second option, it is recommended to give the child the opportunity to acknowledge his strengths and abilities.
- Check whether the task you give him is age inappropriate or it is easier for you to do it for him. Eventually, it is preferable that the child would know how to do things on his own, even if it’s complicated for him and takes more time.
- Let the child help out with chores such as dusting, tidying the room, arranging the table for dinner and watering plants, starting from an early age, but in an age appropriate way.
- Remember that your behavior prepares him for life’s challenges. Overcoming current challenges at home is part of growing up and it helps coping better at kindergarten or school.
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