Dam­age con­trol

Ten tips on how to un­spoil your child.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - PARENTING - By RICHARD BROM­FIELD

NEARLY 95% of par­ents feel like they are overindulging their chil­dren, but feel pow­er­less to stop them­selves. Har­vard Med­i­cal School psy­chol­o­gist Richard Brom­field arms you with 10 quick tips for tak­ing back con­trol.

Com­mit to un­spoil. The surer your lead is, the quicker your chil­dren will fol­low. They will see through tepid and weak ges­tures to un­spoil. Un­spoil­ing can go quickly, but re­quires for­ti­tude.

State your case clearly. Tell your chil­dren what you ex­pect in no un­cer­tain terms, and fol­low through. Speak in specifics, as teach­ers do in the class­room.

Cre­ate a bribe-free home. Bribes work in the moment, but par­ents (and chil­dren) pay a high price for bribery in the long run. You may have to pay for ev­ery ounce of co­op­er­a­tion in the fu­ture.

Avoid deal-mak­ing. Ne­go­ti­a­tions have their place, es­pe­cially in the court­room, car deal­er­ship, and so on. Show your child first­hand that not ev­ery as­pect of life and its de­mands is a deal to be fought and wran­gled till mid­night.

Be the boss. I don’t mean a cruel, tyran­ni­cal Ma­rine-boot-camp-of­fi­cer kind of boss. I mean a boss who un­der­stands and is com­fort­able with the lead­er­ship and au­thor­i­ta­tive role of a par­ent. “Be­cause I say so” would not be an es­pe­cially good mantra for all of par­ent­ing and home life, but it sure has its place at times.

Buy less for the kids. Ob­vi­ous, but as true as it can be dif­fi­cult. For one week, tally how much you spend on the chil­dren, in­clud­ing toys, books, school sup­plies, cloth­ing, snacks, treats, sports equip­ment, en­ter­tain­ment, learn­ing en­rich­ment, mu­sic lessons, and so forth. You may be sur­prised at what your spread­sheet re­veals.

Buy less for your­self, too. Some par­ents roll their eyes at their chil­dren’s in­dul­gence, even as they – the par­ents – spend much of their days buy­ing, shop­ping, and lament­ing that they do not have big­ger homes, bet­ter cars, and such. Your chil­dren no­tice if you are for­ever brows­ing the In­ter­net for things. Chil­dren adore their par­ents and look to them as their ul­ti­mate role mod­els.

Re­ward ef­fort, not prod­uct. The self-es­teem move­ment was a bust. Chil­dren do not gain self-con­fi­dence by shal­low flat­tery and tro­phies for do­ing lit­tle. True com­pe­tence comes through learn­ing real skills and lessons that teach the child that he or she can han­dle things and life.

In­vest time in your chil­dren. Seek ex­pe­ri­ences and ac­tiv­i­ties that, rather than cost money, in­volve time: bik­erid­ing, hik­ing, gar­den­ing, build­ing a bird­house, help­ing do projects around the home or for oth­ers, and so forth. Maybe spend less time at the mall and more in the woods or at the park.

Take pride in the new you. Your chil­dren are obliged to protest and throw wrenches in your un­spoil­ing ef­forts. But you know bet­ter than to sur­ren­der to their easy tears and earth-shak­ing tantrums. Your par­ent­ing will grow more as you wish it to be, and will give your chil­dren a dif­fer­ent kind of gift that will last a life­time. – McClatchy-Tribune News Ser­vice

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