I'm Afraid My Toddler Is Becoming Spoiled

Karen - posted on 01/30/2013 ( 18 moms have responded )

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My son will be 3 in May. I'm afraid he's on his way to becoming a spoiled child. I love him dearly, but he tires me out. He is FASCINATED with lifts, and when he sees one, or knows that there's one nearby (when he's familiar with the area), he HAS to go play with it - never mind food, never mind the fact that he just asked for milk, never mind that he's already been playing with the lifts for the past 1/2 hour to 45 minutes, never mind that I said I'm really hungry and need to go home to eat. He WHINES if we don't let him go and play with the lifts, so we have no choice but to give in. I'm afraid I'm spoiling him, though. Will he out-grow this behaviour, or if I continue giving in to him, will he become spoiled and selfish? Please don't advise me to spank him or give him time-outs.

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Denikka - posted on 01/31/2013

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Karen, I completely understand your reasoning. I agree that when a baby cries, you find out what they need. You respond to a child's NEEDS.
That doesn't mean you give in to their every want. If he wants a toy and cries for it, do you automatically get it for him? I hope not.
If you have guests over and he doesn't want them to leave, do you force them to stay? Most places would say that's unlawful confinement or kidnapping or something. :P
If he wants cakes and cookies and icecream for breakfast, do you give it to him because he whines?

I sure hope you don't. You can enforce boundaries without being cruel. Your child can cry and go wanting without you breaking that parental bond or doing *lifelong damage*.

I wasn't telling you to be cruel to your child. I wasn't telling you to ignore your child. I wasn't telling you to do anything that would be detrimental to your child in any way, shape or form.

Kids are going to want things that they can't or shouldn't have. At a young age, they are going to whine, cry, throw tantrums etc in a ploy to get what they want. They don't know any other way. And it's not just a ploy, it's also a release of emotion. They're sad, they're frustrated, they're angry. They lack the ability to see and understand why they can't have what they want.
But as a parent, you need to enforce those boundaries, no matter your child does to get what they want.
If your kid really really really wants to stick a knife into a light socket, it shouldn't matter how determined they are, how loudly they scream, how many tears they cry, whatever. You don't give them the knife to stick in the socket. Sometimes distraction doesn't work. Some kids are notoriously stubborn. And so you just have to let them have their fit and then.....they get over it.

Kids who get whatever they want, whenever they want grow up to be spoiled, unappreciative brats. There is NO harm in telling your child no sometimes, or making them wait for something instead of giving in right this second. It's GOOD for a child to have firm boundaries and consequences.
That doesn't mean smacking your child any time he goes near a lift. That does mean that you set out the expectations at the outset (you can only have x amount of time to play with the lifts today or we only have time for once today) and setting out consequences if he chooses not to listen by telling him *if you keep playing with the lift, we won't have time to look at the toys/grab a treat/do something fun today* or *that's enough. One more time, then we need to go home. If you don't listen, we can't play with them next time*.
Sometimes he's not going to be happy about it. He may whine or cry about it. That doesn't mean that you give in to what he wants. Instead, you deal with the emotion that goes with the disappointment, let him know that it's okay that he's upset, and give him tools on how to deal with it.
The real world is full of disappointment. Times when we can't have what we want. It's important to give our children tools to deal with those times. It's a realistic part of life and you do your child no favours by pretending that disappointment doesn't exist.

Amy - posted on 01/31/2013

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You can not reason with children, heck you can't even reason with some adults. If you are going to give in every single time then don't even bother saying no to begin with. Once you say no you really need to stick with it or else he's going to learn that whining gets what he wants. If you don't feel confident as a parent to do it out in public at least start telling him no at home and let him tantrum all he wants so he learns it's not effective to get what he wants so when you do start to say no in public he knows you mean it.

My other suggestion is if he knows where the lifts are then so do you, so before you even walk in you can say alright we can go on it x times and then stick to it.

Elfrieda - posted on 01/31/2013

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I would suggest planning for a tantrum. Go to a place where you know he will want to play on the lifts and throw a fit if you say no, but do it at a time of day when there are very few people there. That way you won't be as embarrassed.

He's begging you for boundaries. You're his mom, you decide how many times he can ride, and after that, you go home. You're giving him way too much power, he's probably terrified! There is no way a 2 year old is stronger than a woman. Just pick him up and carry him away. (on your "planned tantrum" day you can wear a backpack or an over-the-shoulder bag so that you have both arms free) You don't need to spank or do time-outs. Just say, "One more ride and then we will go home and have chocolate milk." and then do it. No punishment, just loving boundaries.

Just as an aside, I find my 3 year old doesn't understand "five more minutes", but he does understand "five more times".

Denikka - posted on 01/31/2013

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It absolutely IS as easy as I, and later the others, stated. If you think his WHINING is so difficult to deal with, you are in for some VERY bad surprises and a VERY rude awakening as he gets older.
Kids embarrass you. You get over it. Kids throw tantrums. You deal with it and get over it.

You seem to want a quick an easy bandaid solution. They don't exist and even if they do, they don't help in the long run. You have to parent your child or they're going to run wild.

Sarah - posted on 01/31/2013

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You stated that you have no choice he whines....that is not true you have a choice you are just choosing to give in. And yes if you continue to give in it will only get worse as he grows. You are the parent if there are things you do or don't want him to do who cares if he whines. Once he realizes that you are not going to give in to the whine or tantrums then they don't do them as much. But if it is working for them then why should their behavior change. If I get what I want why would I want to change. And yes at some point you will have to discipline. Discipline is a way of teaching what is acceptable and what is not. Kids need boundaries. It also prepares them for life. When he gets older a teacher is not going to give him what he wants just because he is whining....if he does not listen and follow directions then there is discipline that is put into place.

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User - posted on 02/18/2013

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Hi Karen,

You are most welcome. I have been through where you are now and I really understand how you feel.

Hope that the situation will improve. It may not work immediately.

All the best!

Karen - posted on 02/17/2013

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Thanks, Gladys - I was looking for a helpful, nice answer. Some of these moms really like to beat people up verbally. Ouch.

User - posted on 02/17/2013

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The other choice is to be firm. I know that it is difficult but once you give in, you will have to give in all the time bec he will never learn. Children are very determined and knows that you love them and will give in eventually bec you can't stand them whining.

Just leave them at where they are and walk away, towards where you want to go. Walk away slowly and observe his reaction. Eventually, he will come to you and follow you to where you want to go, but very unhappily. Then, try to explain it to him why do you not allow him to play with the lifts at that time. Get them to look into your eyes when you explain to time. It will help to get the message through better.

You can also set a particular time for him to play lifts on a daily basis, if it is convenient to you. Let him know that there is a certain time that he is allowed to play with lifts.

As for my son, he loves to play with slides. I take him there on certain days of the week. He would refuse to leave, but I would tell him that it is time for lunch and that he should go and clean up now. Usually he would then leave.

Just be firm.

All the best!

Michelle - posted on 02/01/2013

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You do have a choice to NOT do what he wants. YOU are choosing to take the easy route though and give in.

All you are teaching him is that if he starts crying he will get what he wants. How are you going to explain it to the teacher when he starts school and gets told to do something he doesn't want to do? Are you going to make then bow to his every wish? What about when he's out in the big bad world and doesn't get his own way?

YOU have to teach him now that there are rules that need to be obeyed and set them out before you go out. Tell him that today he won't be allowed to play with the lifts and then stick to it. He has to learn that you are the boss, not him.

Gigi - posted on 02/01/2013

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When my daughter was a baby, I read a book that was really good. What stuck to me the most is that children can not be in charge, and if you let them call the shots it ends up in one big mess. It is our job as parent to take responsibility for our child's behaviour and to guide them. Furthermore, I liked how the writer explained it - that, while children are important part of the family they are just that - "a part" of family and as such the world can not always revolve around them.

I don't believe in spanking and being cruel to kids, but I strongly believe in setting the limits, staying realistic and teaching my child that she can't have everything she wants. I also see as my job to teach my child to respect other people/children and understand that, while I love her to bits, she is a part of a bigger world.

So if my child wants to ride elevator 20 times in a row, I would explain to him that elevator is not a toy and that other people want to use it as well. I would also tell him that we can ride it again when we come back, but that right now, we have to go home to eat. If he reacts to that with a tantrum, I would wait it out and not give in. Once he is done I would tell him that I know he is dissapointed and hug him. With that approach I think he would learn to accomodate other people as well as deal with dissapointment.

Karen - posted on 02/01/2013

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Hi everyone, I've found the comments stated above to be helpful. Just now, we went to the shopping centre (mall) and supermarket to run some errands and buy some groceries. I told him that we would then take the lift to the eighth floor (where our car was parked), go home, have lunch and he would have his nap, then after he woke up from his nap, we would either go ride on the shuttle bus (which he likes) or ride on his tricycle.

Well, when we unbuckled his car seat and tried to get him out, he wasn't happy. He wanted to close the buckles. He wanted to stay in the car. I told him that he can't stay in the car because we're all leaving. When he continued protesting, I asked my helper to carry him out of the car against his wishes. He continued protesting, crying and screaming as we entered the lift and went up to our apartment. Thankfully, no one else was in the lift lobby.

Back home, he lay on the floor, crying, screaming, etc. Thankfully/Miraculously/Luckily I was calm throughout. I let him continue crying and screaming for a bit, without responding to or stressing out about his tantrum. Then I turned on this owl video on YouTube that he likes to watch, He was still crying a bit, but it gradually lessened as I let him watch a few different animal videos in a row (owl, duck, parrot...). He even began smiling and enjoying the videos, tantrum, tears and unhappiness forgotten. I let him watch the videos as he ate his lunch. Then while he was having his bath, I let him play with the water, pouring water from one container into another, or just out on the floor. After a while, I told him I would fill the watering can and let him pour it out another three times. I counted each time he poured out the water. Finally, down to the last time, he still wanted to play with the watering can, but I told him, "Remember? I told you this is the last time." Thankfully, he obeyed, let me dry him, dress him, and he drank his milk and went to bed soon after.

I hope I can keep this up and his behaviour will improve over time. I'm not looking for quick fixes. I'm just looking for a more humane way to discipline him. Thanks, everyone!

Sarah - posted on 01/31/2013

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Ignoring a cry when a child is hurt or a baby and needs to be fed or changed or held is one thing. Ignoring a child because they are throwing a tantrum is another thing. As a child grows you have to teach them how to control their emotions and what type of behavior is acceptable. It is important to have a good parent-child relationship, but at the same time you must make it a parent -child relationship. The parent is the one that makes the decisions not the child. The parent is the parent not the friend. And yes I believe you can be close to your children by being their parent. My oldest two children are 15 yrs and 11 yrs old I have often times told them "no", they have had tantrums which have been ignored, they have had time outs for misbehavior......but they still come to me, are open with me, and we have a close relationship. Are there times when my kids don't like the answer I give them.....yes, but that does not mean that our relationship still can't be close. It actually is the opposite. They know that I love them and that I have their best interest at heart. As they have become older I am able to share more on why I answered the way I did. My son is driving age. There are some times when I say he can't drive.....the roads are icey, there is too much traffic for someone who is just starting to learn, etc. Not always does he like my answer. Sometimes he will complain, but that does not change my answer as I am wanting him to stay alive.

A good book I read is called Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fey. It talks about loving your children and developing a close relationship with them, but then also setting boundaries and allowing them to deal with the consequences of their actions both good and bad. It talked about how it is much easier to deal with misbehavior when they are 2 and 3 years old then it is when they are 15 and 16 years old. The consequences are much harsher the older you get.

Elfrieda - posted on 01/31/2013

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I find the parenting thoughts/advice on the website www.janetlansbury.com quite helpful. It's all about being a "gentle leader" and respecting your child without letting him turn into a brat.

Karen - posted on 01/31/2013

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My husband and I are soft-hearted people. We can't bear it when he starts crying, let alone screaming. In fact, we're afraid of causing him any lifelong damage or irreparable harm to the parent-child relationship if we ignore his screaming, crying, etc. I was taught to be a responsive parent. When baby cries, pick him up. Find out what he wants and do whatever is needed to stop the crying.

Sarah, yes, discipline is meant to teach. But many parents believe wrongly that it should be tough and that it means coming down hard on the child. In the end, something is damaged in the parent-child relationship. When you ignore your child's tears and screaming, something is irreparably lost - maybe the trust. It doesn't feel right to me.

Elfrieda, I will try the "5 more times" way. That sounds helpful. I also like your suggestion of taking him to the lifts at a time of day when there are very few people and then trying out the boundaries there. I will try that. Thanks.

Beth - posted on 01/31/2013

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Whining should be ignored. When children see that their whining is effective in achieving their goal they will continue to whine. When the whining is not effective in achieving their goal they will stop. He will grow out of it, with a little help from you.

Karen - posted on 01/30/2013

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It's really not that easy, Denikka. He's strong. I'll also be utterly embarrassed if he throws that kind of horrible tantrum in public. Isn't there a softer way of dealing with it, like reasoning with him?

Denikka - posted on 01/30/2013

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He's never going to outgrow it if you give in every time he whines. And he is quite likely to end up being spoiled.
So he whines. So what? So he throws a full out, face down, kicking, screaming tantrum. So what? You're the parent. He's 3! Remove him, physically if you have to. He has to learn that he can't always get his way and it's best to do it now, while you can still enforce things, rather than dealing with an out of control teenager.

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