MH shares some tips to help you stay strong and not give in to those tantrums.
WORDS NURULHUDA SUHAIMI
Ensuring their child doesn’t grow up spoiled can be a tough and tricky job for parents. On the one hand, you want your child to have some form of discipline, but on the other hand, it can be hard to be the bad guy sometimes and put your foot down when your child is being demanding.
Still, it is your parental responsibility to raise a caring and empathetic individual, and one who does not expect things to go his way all the time. Here are some strategies that can help you with just that:
Raising a child who is not spoiled starts early on in his life. We’re not talking about disciplining your newborn of course, but you don’t have to wait until your child is able to talk to start disciplining him. When your child is able to crawl, and starting to play with anything and everything around him, it is good to start setting some limits.
For instance, if your child likes to grab your hair, you can gently remove his hand and say, “You can’t grab Mummy’s hair.” You can then give your child a teething ring or a toy to play with. Do this enough times and your child will eventually learn that he should not pull your hair.
Be Consistent Together
“Parents need to be on the same page in terms of parenting so as not to undo one’s teachings,” says Daniel Koh, psychologist at Insights Mind Centre. If your child is being demanding, and one of you is standing your ground, while the other gives in, your child will eventually learn to approach the more lenient parent whenever he wants something.
Be sure to discuss with your partner about both of your expectations
and set limits for your child together.
Depending on your child’s age, you can give him appropriate tasks to do such as putting his toys away after he is done playing, or bringing his own tableware to the sink after eating his meals. This lets your child know that he can’t expect others to do things for him every time.
You can also assign your child a routine task that will benefit the rest of the family, such as helping you set the table during meal times. This will teach your child to think about the needs of other people, rather than just his own.
Moulding a sense of responsibility in your child starts with you too. “Children learn through modeling and quite often, if their parents or people close to the children are responsible, children would learn by example,” explains Pamela See, educational and developmental psychologist at Th!nk Psychological Services. Show your child that you also have your own responsibilities such as clearing up after yourself after meals, or making your bed in the morning.
When you allow your child to gain a sense of responsibility, his independence will naturally develop too. “Teach your child independent skills early on,” advises See. For example, if your toddler is in preschool, you can let him pack his school bag by himself. Even small things like letting your child dress himself is a step towards developing his growing independence.
Of course, instilling independence in your child also entails you not doing everything for him. If you have assigned your child a task for him to do, let him complete it by himself – don’t hover around your child, says See. Avoid redoing your child’s task for him if he makes a mistake, See adds. “Show your child how to do it and allow him/her to make the corrections,” she says.
A spoiled child typically needs his demands to be met immediately, so teaching your child how to be patient is essential. For instance, if he wants you to buy him a toy, let him save up for it. You can let your child do age-appropriate chores around the house so he can earn some money, and buy the toy with what he has earned later on.
Don’t Give In
When your child is throwing a tantrum because his demands are not being met, it can be tempting for you to just give in to him.
But it is vital that you not resort to this, as it will show your child
that he can get his way anytime, and he will learn to repeat the same behaviour.
“Parents need to be in control by not giving in to negative behaviour, but instead emphasise on consequences,” says Koh.
Explain Your Reasons
When disciplining your child, don’t just scold him or say that he can’t do a particular thing. According to Koh, parents need to “explain and discuss why it is not right to behave” in a certain way. This way, your child understands why he is not allowed to do certain things or behave in a particular manner.
If your child displays undesirable behaviour, don’t hesitate in being firm with him. Let your child know that his behaviour will not be tolerated. Sure, your child might not be a fan of yours at that moment, but it is necessary for you to be clear with your child that there are certain things he is not allowed to do.
Being firm doesn’t just apply to your child either. Koh emphasises the parents’ need to be firm “when others try to give in to the child or encourage such behaviour”. If you notice another family member giving in to your child’s demands, don’t hold back from telling them not to do so. You are the parent, so don’t be afraid to speak up and let others know of your expectations of your child’s behaviour.