How do you spoil a child?

How do you create a spoiled child? What is your definition of “spoiled”?

(Partly inspired by this thread).

I’m curious because my mom told me during a recent visit that she thinks we overindulge our daughter (who will be 2 in October) by spending too much time with her.

So I’m wondering about Doper’s opinions/thoughts/experiences on this topic.

How to spoil a child:
Never tell her “no.”
Give her everything she asks for.
Let her call all the shots - when bedtime is, what’s for dinner, what the schedule for the day is.
Do not require anything of her - she does only what she wants to do at all times.

That ought to cover it.

I don’t really understand how spending too much time with a child equates to spoiling, unless you’re doing the above things while spending said time. I do think it’s a healthy thing for children to learn to entertain themselves when left to their own devices, but at 2yrs old, their ability to do that for any major stretch of time is rather limited. (and the things they come up with for entertainment are frequently less than ideal - such as unrolling an entire roll of toilet paper.)

I don’t think that you spoil a child by spending too much parenting time with her. I think kids are spoiled by adults who let them have their own way too often. If you are IN CONTROL of your daughter, then she’s probably not spoiled. Babies and kids need a lot of attention from their parents, in order for them to grow up properly socialized.

Read Terry Pratchett’s The Wee Free Men to see what a spoiled child is, and how not to spoil one.

A spoiled child is one who never learns that the universe does not revolve around them. Teach your kid that and the rest should be easier.

Don’t refrigerate them…

I don’t think your mother’s using the same definition of “spoiled.” What she’s saying is that your daughter should spend more time alone entertaining herself. I have no idea how to evaluate her claim, so it’s pretty much up to you to decide if your daughter needs more alone time.

I don’t believe our daughter is spoiled, and I certainly have never even considered that spending too much time with your child will “spoil” him or her.

But yes, we do plan our outings and visits around our daughter’s routine & preferences, whenever possible. We don’t see the point in visiting someone during her usual naptime, for example, or going out to do something after dinner, which is when she usually unwinds for bedtime.

Ach Crivens!

You can spoil them with stuff: You are in danger of this if every time you go to Target you leave with a toy. This is because people need to learn that they can’t have everything they want.

You can spoil them with no responsibility: i.e. a kid who never needs to pick up after themselves, never needs to help out with housework. When they get older this extends to parents who make excuses for their kids for not doing their schoolwork. This is because people need to learn that they have responsibilities that aren’t fun, but we all need to do them.

You can spoil them with attention: You are in danger of this when you have another adult in the house and your child interrupts adults and you drop the conversation you are having with the adult to have the conversation with the child. Or if the child is allowed to control the conversation. You are also in danger of this if your child reaches about four or five and can’t self entertain without a TV at all - she should be able to read, color, play with toys or do something for at least a little while without needing you to play with her. This is because people need to learn that they aren’t the center of everyone’s world, and because being able to self entertain is an important skill for everyone to have.

Permissive/indulgent parenting.

Well, I think there’s a balance to be struck on “planning outings and visits around [the children’s] routine & preferences.”

"Routine": It’s pretty much common sense to not keep a toddler out way past his or her bedtime and/or make him/her miss nap time – it does not bode well for later. But I do think it’s possible to be too rigid in enforcing that: Uncle Ernie is only in town for the afternoon and has never met your kid and you haven’t seen him for years, but you refuse to get together because Daisy might miss her nap – that sort of thing.

"Preferences": IMO one of the points of raising kids is to expose them to new things, to teach them good behavior in various situations, and to teach them to deal with being bored on occasion. Again, two is awfully young to expect a kid to sit through, say, a symphony, but I don’t really have a lot of sympathy for parents who will only go to McDonalds or Chuck E. Cheese because that’s what the kids like. Sure, it’s good to keep her preferences in mind, but what about yours, or your mother’s?

IOW, if the parents social life completely revolves around the child’s routine and preferences, I don’t think that’s good. But realistically evaluating the success of an outing based on what a toddler will tolerate – that’s only common sense.

Amen, sisterfriend. My daughter could say “excuse me” by the time she was a year old, and also knew from a very young age that when I said “The grownups are talking” that meant "Go amuse yourself for a bit. I’m here if you need me, but “need” doesn’t mean “Mommymommymommy, I can’t find my Polly Pocket”.

And while I expect to (and enjoy) spend a little while talking with the kids, I came here to hang with Mommy and/or Daddy. I’m not especially interested in the finer points of High School Musical. I promise you that Mommy and Daddy aren’t either. Go away kid, ya bother me. :wink:

We plan our outings around our son’s routines as well. Until he’s old enough that day-to-day schedule changes don’t cause a major headache to all of us, it just doesn’t make sense to do otherwise unless it’s for a special occasion or some other really good reason (like my cousin’s Bat Mitzvah, which we went to in June).

I don’t think that’s spoiling - it’s just good sense. I mean, who wants to be stuck with a really cranky, tired, upset kid? I’d rather all of us have a good time at a picnic at the park than be miserable (along with anyone around us) at a four-star restaurant. When he gets older and has more control over himself, we’ll try to accommodate him, but he’ll occasionally be in situations where he’ll have to exert the control he’s learned. But for now, it’s up to me to help him learn to control himself and unless there’s a good reason, I’d prefer not to set him up to fail.

Challenges are good. But bringing a very young child with little emotional control into a situation where they have about a 90 percent chance of a meltdown is almost as irresponsible as not providing a child with new challenges at all.

Spare the rod

There was one thing in the other thread that stood out to me- somebody pointed out that some parents let their kids get away with stuff because they’re little and cute, and then express surprise that the kids still try to get away with it when they’re bigger and less cute. That’s a mistake with a kitten or a puppy- never let it get away with something you don’t want it to keep doing as an adult- and, IMO, a mistake with a kid, too.

This is something I’ve noticed from watching the nanny shows.

When I was a kid, my sister and I knew that, if we wanted something to do, we were supposed to find something to do without bothering our mother- we should find something non-disruptive to do that didn’t require her participation. And that’s generally what we did. We’d play inside or outside, read, or color, or even watch TV, without her getting involved. She would only get involved if something went wrong- if someone made too much noise, started a fight, broke things, or got hurt. We did sometimes do activities that included her and/or my dad (such as board games), but those were not an everyday thing, and that certainly wasn’t the expected default mode of play. AFAICT, that sort of thing was the norm at our friends’ houses, too.

At least on the nanny shows, kids don’t seem to be expected to do that any more. The norm on those shows seems to be scheduled activities with both the parents and the kids, not the parents expecting the kids to find something to do on their own. This could be a selection effect, of course (only parents whose kids can’t find something non-disruptive to do on their own call in the TV nannies). But from some things I’ve read about parenting, it does seem to be a different expectation for parents now than in the 80s when I was growing up- parents are expected to spend more time playing with their kids now. That might come across as spoiling to someone who is used to the older way.

I think there’s a lot to be said for learning to amuse yourself and deal with unstructured time, personally. But I’m not the sort of person who seeks out routines and schedules, and I enjoyed unstructured time to play or read as a kid, so maybe that’s just me.

I think that’s partly because (as you said) kids who aren’t getting positive reinforcement from their parents start to “act-out” and then get only negative attention, which reinforces the behavior rather than extinguishing it. So facilitating parent/child play is a great way to turn a dysfunctional family around.

But the other reason is parents are terrified of child molesters and abductors. They don’t let kids out of their sight anymore, not unless it’s into the care of another trusted adult. Never mind that “trusted” adults are statistically more likely to victimize children, and never mind that just riding in a car is something like 100x more likely to result in injury or death. The stories of Polly Klaas and Adam Walsh are burned into mothers’ brains and they are terrified.

My grandfather’s main concern is that we don’t spoil our 17 month old. I never really understood what he meant. Too many toys? Candy?

I figured it out when he saw her playing by herself and she got frustrated by something and started crying. We didn’t run over to her immediately and pick her up to comfort her. He was proud of us for not spoiling her by responding to her mood. We gave her a little while to figure out the toy by herself and then she was fine.

Life is going to be frustrating sometimes and we want her to be able to learn by trying. If it was something we knew she wasn’t going to “get”, then of course we would step in and help her. It happens all the time. But she’s got my quick temper and flew off the handle at something she knows how to do.

Our babysitter had to “fire” one set of parents because their child cried and screamed all day as a result of being carried around by either mommy or daddy constantly. The babysitter would leave the room to make lunch and the kid would go nuts, while mine would play with the toys by herself, oblivious to the fact that she left the room.

I would consider that example as spoiling with too much attention, as well. Kids need to learn to be independant, to an extent. If Susie is content to play with her toys by herself while we watch the news, fine. If she wants to play with us or hands us a book to read to her, we’re more than happy to do it.

Leave them out on the counter after opening.

Nope, you left out: Always take your child’s side regardless of if it is right or wrong.

Should we infer from this that a properly socialized adult is one whom society is IN CONTROL of…or merely one who is IN CONTROL of oneself?