The consequences of spoiling your child

Life coach and author Paula Quinsee chats to us about what you risk by caving in to your child's every whim and demand

Parents often vow to give their children the best life possible and provide for them as best as they can – but there needs to be balance, Quinsee cautions.

She advises parents to instil in their young kids the value of working towards achieving something, rather than handing everything to them on a silver platter.

“It’s about finding balance and giving children a good grounding at a young age in terms of values, morals and principles,” she says.

Yet these days, both parents need to work as most families can’t survive on a single income, and both parties are often preoccupied with their professions and busy lives. As a result, they tend to “make amends” for not being around as often as they’d like.

“Parents sometimes overcompensate by buying their kids expensive gifts, gadgets or devices to make up for whatever shortcoming they feel they may have, such as not being able to spend quality time with them,” Quinsee says.

This does not make for a healthy parent-child relationship, because what the child may really be yearning for is their parents’ undivided attention.

READ MORE: Your parenting style impacts your child’s future

When it comes to managing the guilt of not spoiling your child, Quinsee says parents need to come to understand what they can realistically provide. Children easily succumb to peer pressure, but it’s up to the parents to remain true to themselves and their kids, she adds.

Parents need to be firm about putting boundaries in place, and be able to have open and honest conversations with their children about what they can and can’t do. This, Quinsee says, means you’ll raise independent, responsible and self-sufficient children.

In a previous article in DESTINY, Tambu Johnera told us about how she raises her children. She’s a mother of six, yet does not have a full-time helper at home. Her helper comes in only on Saturdays to do the washing and ironing.

“The reason for this is that I train my children about the basics of cleaning up after themselves and respecting communal spaces in the house from an early age,” she related. “These are the same lessons I learnt while growing up, and they apply to both girls and boys.

“They make their own beds, wash dishes and their school uniforms, and learn to cook at a young age. For me this is a labour of love, and it’s not as easy as it sounds because children are children, and they try to resist this as much as possible.”

While this sounds like hard work, by spoiling your kids you risk failing to teach them valuable life skills that are essential to them becoming independent adults.

Quinsee says that if parents always cater to their child’s every whim or demand, they aren’t teaching them how to work for something. “The child will never know the satisfaction of achievement afterwards, and the value and appreciation that comes with working towards something,” she says.

READ MORE: How to raise financially savvy children

When your child wants something, such as an iPad, Quinsee advises you use the opportunity to teach him or her how to set a goal and work towards it. Depending on the child’s age, you could teach them how to handle money responsibly and save up to get what they want.

Indulging kids also affects their emotionally stability in terms of being able to deal with crises. They may lack the ability to look at a challenging situation and weigh up the pros and cons of it. “When you’re always doing everything for your child, you’re not teaching them essential thinking and life skills which they’ll need in adulthood.”

The foundation of our emotional intelligence and wellbeing is formed in the first seven years of our lives, Quinsee says. “The effects of a spoilt child will play out in adult life in terms of the child’s emotional stability, their ability to think clearly and make decisions as well as how they handle emotional situations such as relationships, conflict and differences.”