Are You Spoiling Your Child... ENOUGH?

24 October 2014

Do You Spoil Your Child Enough?
Credit: Flickr/dr_zoidberg

No parent wants to raise a spoiled brat. We’ve all known enough of those to understand that the kind of parenting that panders to a child’s every whim can back-fire spectacularly. So, to avoid that, we say ‘no’ a lot - perhaps more often than we say yes - and we limit sugary snacks and implement healthy boundaries and basically bend over backwards in a bid to strike the perfect balance between making our children feel secure and loved, but ensuring that they don’t end up entitled, whiny, spoiled little so-and-so’s.

But here’s a thought: perhaps should we worry less about spoiling our kids, and consider focusing our attention on spoiling them a whole lot more. Stick with me, here. I know it sounds bonkers, but I read a blog this week about just that - why we should spoil our kids more often - and it got me thinking.

Will my kids grow up to thank me for being a measured parent who never spoiled them? Or if I go a little wild and relax all the boundaries from time to time, will they grow up with a heart stuffed full of the kind of memories that make kids light up a little more than before on the inside?

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not advocating letting the kids rule the roost, or urging you to abandon all the tenets of parenthood until the littlest people in your household call all the shots. I’m simply saying that some of us might have our priorities wrong. In our eagerness to raise 'nice' kids, we might be neglecting to raise ones who also feel radically, extravagantly loved and cherished.

Because ultimately, that’s what spoiling someone does. When my husband brought a new perfume home for me on an otherwise average rainy Tuesday after work for no other reason than that he spotted it on his lunch break and it made him think of me, he’s spoiling me - yes - but not running the risk of turning me into a petulant wife who expects expensive gifts every Tuesday from thereon in. He’s just making me feel truly special, and that’s surely one of the most precious gifts we can give the ones we love.

So why do we get so het up about spoiling kids? They’re kids for such a short space of time, and life will almost certainly throw all manner of challenges at them as they grow up - why not let life keep them humble, but indulge ourselves as parents in the task of making sure they know that glorious feeling of being thoroughly and utterly spoiled?

Why not buy the toy you know your kid would love just because you can? Why wait till Christmas if a just-because gift might light him up inside in a way that will be immeasurably more memorable than opening piles of pricy gifts on the same old day in December?

And spoiling kids doesn’t have to be about money, either. Try making your own advent calendar this year, and fill each day's window with a fun family task or moment of togetherness that will make your kid feel fab. Lego advent calendars are cool, but it’s only Lego after all. Ask any kid on the planet if he’d rather have a mini figure or an hour of uninterrupted fun with Mum or Dad, and I can practically guarantee the answer, every single time.

As Alison writes in that blog that started off this train of thought, why not let the kids stay up past bedtime, or bake cookies at 9pm, or spend up a storm in the pound shop with them just this once. They won't expect it every week; they'll live off the thrill of that memory forever. Just do whatever is within your means to make sure your kids know the joy of that ‘I’ve been spoiled rotten today’ feeling.

Dig deep, and consider what life might be like without all the little luxuries which you don’t really need - but which make you feel just a little bit treated and indulged. Think about the last time you felt truly spoiled - and if it’s been a while, let someone who loves you know that you could use a little spoiling - and then pull out all the stops, from time to time at least, to make sure your kids know that feeling too.

Sure, many of our kids probably already know it well. We go mad at Christmas or lavish them with so many treats at birthdays that we’re more inclined to worry that we might be overdoing it, than wonder if we should step it up a notch when it comes to spoiling them.

But trust me on this; unexpected perfume on a rainy Tuesday beats just about every 'official' gift I’ve ever had, no matter how lavish or elaborate. So ease off the pressure to make Christmas perfect, and instead just pick a day next week - and regularly after that - and make it spoiling day.

Then come back here and tell us how it went...

TOPICS:   Community Favourites   Parents

4 comments

  • lpc
    I agree totally and whole heartedly. my SIL buys her kids a small treat every time there shopping that's her choice and I'm not criticising her for it but they now demand it every time. I don't do that with me son and ask my mum not to. that being said I do random big toys on months I have done overtime. I feel I work hard and if I'm doing that to redecorate the hall I should be doing it for a buzz light year toy aswell. I have three wonderful memories as a child 1 my dad waking me up in the middle of the night to tell me at the end of the bed there was the biggest box of colouring pencils he had ever seen. when. I woke in the morning I thought I had dreamt it but they were there in a beautiful box. 2 dad came home and asked why I was running up and down the street when I could be on my bike, I said I didn't have a bike so he shrugged and lifted one out of the boot ready to go. I was 5 and still remember ever detail of that bike and the thought of how special I was. 3 mum was a stickler for the rules but once she walked on past the school and said 'I've decided we are gonna have a day together' we got a bus to town had lunch bought a little toy and went to the cinema. wonderful. I plan to do this for my son as he is speci not just at christmas and birthdays.
  • MrsC2012
    That's actually a very thought provoking and accurate article. I could probably list on one hand the Christmas and birthday gifts I remember from being a kid. But I do remember being 13 and in desperate need of the oh so fashionable Cabrini hoody that would've made me queen bee at school! I'd been in the shop with my mum and tried it on, but at £35 for a hoody (I wouldn't pay that now for an every day item of clothing!) my mum refused. But the next day, I came home from school and found a JD Sports carrier bag on my bed and inside was THE hoody! I was elated! We definitely grew up in a family where "no" was the answer to most requests (for financial reasons more so than to avoid "spoiling" - in fact I'm sure my parents would've liked to spoil us more often) so that one moment of indulgence still sticks with me over 10 years later, even though the hoody is long gone, and I vowed there and then to not be a parent who has to say "no" all the time. Don't get me wrong, I don't want "spoilt" kids who expect everything they ask for and paddy on the floor because they didn't get it, but a treat every now and then for good behaviour never did anyone any harm, even if it's something as simple as ice cream on the way home from the park x
  • HeidiScrimgeour
    I agree totally and whole heartedly. my SIL buys her kids a small treat every time there shopping that's her choice and I'm not criticising her for it but they now demand it every time. I don't do that with me son and ask my mum not to. that being said I do random big toys on months I have done overtime. I feel I work hard and if I'm doing that to redecorate the hall I should be doing it for a buzz light year toy aswell. I have three wonderful memories as a child 1 my dad waking me up in the middle of the night to tell me at the end of the bed there was the biggest box of colouring pencils he had ever seen. when. I woke in the morning I thought I had dreamt it but they were there in a beautiful box. 2 dad came home and asked why I was running up and down the street when I could be on my bike, I said I didn't have a bike so he shrugged and lifted one out of the boot ready to go. I was 5 and still remember ever detail of that bike and the thought of how special I was. 3 mum was a stickler for the rules but once she walked on past the school and said 'I've decided we are gonna have a day together' we got a bus to town had lunch bought a little toy and went to the cinema. wonderful. I plan to do this for my son as he is speci not just at christmas and birthdays.
    Wow, what amazing memories to treasure. That brought a lump to our throats! Thanks so much for reading and commenting.
  • HeidiScrimgeour
    That's actually a very thought provoking and accurate article. I could probably list on one hand the Christmas and birthday gifts I remember from being a kid. But I do remember being 13 and in desperate need of the oh so fashionable Cabrini hoody that would've made me queen bee at school! I'd been in the shop with my mum and tried it on, but at £35 for a hoody (I wouldn't pay that now for an every day item of clothing!) my mum refused. But the next day, I came home from school and found a JD Sports carrier bag on my bed and inside was THE hoody! I was elated! We definitely grew up in a family where "no" was the answer to most requests (for financial reasons more so than to avoid "spoiling" - in fact I'm sure my parents would've liked to spoil us more often) so that one moment of indulgence still sticks with me over 10 years later, even though the hoody is long gone, and I vowed there and then to not be a parent who has to say "no" all the time. Don't get me wrong, I don't want "spoilt" kids who expect everything they ask for and paddy on the floor because they didn't get it, but a treat every now and then for good behaviour never did anyone any harm, even if it's something as simple as ice cream on the way home from the park x
    Oh my gosh I love that hoody story! Fabulous. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

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