I can remember so clearly learning to do everything with one hand after Charliegh was born. I could not stand to hear someone tell me to “put that baby down” or “you are gonna spoil that child!” She is 6 years old now, and there are many times I wish I had heeded the words of those obviously wiser than I. While she is a wonderful and sweet little girl, I see that I have cheated her in some aspects.
As parents it is our responsibility to our children and to society to raise kind, responsible and good children who have work ethic, value things and eventually become responsible citizens who in return carry the torch on through their kids. It is an unfortunate thing when we come to a place only to realize we have done our child a great injustice that cannot be taken back by spoiling them too much. It is not only damaging to them and our relationship with them, but to every relationship they will ever have in the future.
By spoiled I do not mean cuddling your child a little longer or going out of the way to see they have good and decent things. I don’t even mean spoiled as in going out of your way to give them a few extras. However, there is a line.
As a mother who came from a childhood of not always having the basic necessities to survive it was almost instinctive to see that she had everything she always wanted before she even knew she wanted it and then some. I wanted to make sure that she never felt that longing to have something or the embarrassment of her stuff not being as good as the others. Somewhere along the way it got out of control.
I could have at least went about it differently. Rather than handing her everything along the way I could have made her value things more or work for them sometimes. After all, I am shaping this child. I want her to value things, be patient, have self control and be pleasant to all who encounters her. Thankfully, at 6 it is not too late to turn things around. Here are some things I have been incorporating, and believe me they work!
I am giving her age appropriate chores. If she really wants something, especially if it is pricey, she has to put in work. I want her to understand things are not handed to us, and that it all starts with hard work. I want her to appreciate her nice things as well as what it takes to get them. I also want her to understand what maintaining a certain lifestyle will take in the long haul. I have noticed that by giving her these “chores” it has boosted her self esteem.
I believe in good old fashioned respect. I teach my child to say please, thank you and to speak when they are spoken to. I demand she respect her elders and to act appropriately when in public. If I have to remind her to do any of these things it is a big deal, as these are a part of a foundation I feel should be instinctive. For that to happen though we have to lead by example. We can preach that old tune “do as I say not as I do” all day long, but eventually they are going to do exactly as we did.
I also believe in discipline, not abuse. Now this is touchy. What works for one child may not work for another. While I do not believe in beating children I do believe that a swat on the behind is not all together out of the question depending on the age and the situation. I also believe that for some children time out is a miracle. Grounding them from something they truly enjoy really gets their attention too. I know my father had some pretty unique ways of punishing us that were never forgotten. It was not funny then, but looking back now I giggle at his tactics.
Raising a good child is not difficult. It comes down to raising a child who is charitable, and who understands things like donating her old toys gives something to a child who before had nothing. You want your child to care for others, but you have to develop that desire within them. Encourage them to think far beyond themselves, and challenge them to make a difference. Any small act, like helping an elderly neighbor or doing some volunteer work can help.
Tell them the truth, and avoid false praise. Teach them to be a joyful loser and a gracious winner. Nurture your children’s desires to try and let them know it is ok to fail without giving up. Help them truly understand the value of money and benefits of hard work. Nurture the empathy within them, and encourage them to always lift others up. Above all, teach them there is not always an immediate reward for a job well done, and that sometimes the rewards are within.
We cannot be shy about disciplining our children, but we should always treat them with kindness and respect. Having boundaries and reasonable expectations can only benefit our children. It is never too early or too late to start instilling them into our children. They will be far more successful at everything that they do and more at peace within themselves. ~Spring Lee