Is your youngster an overindulged child?… maybe

Over-indulgence
in children is all around us. It is not exactly like spoiling, but does show
similar traits. It can happen in families of any income level and families with
more than one child. 

Over-indulgence
has been described as one of four types of over-parenting, which are
over-comfort, over-protection, over-involvement, and over-indulgence.

Over-indulgence
refers to children being given almost everything they want and often goes with
the following behaviours:

Over-comforting
can take on many forms, such as running to the crib every time the baby monitor
blasts the screams of one’s crying child, or always rocking a child to sleep.

 Over-protection
involves parents who never let their children experience any harm or pain. It sometimes
means doing things for children that they could or should be doing for themselves.
That is not to say that it is wrong to nurture your children, but when this is
done in excess, it deprives your child of the opportunity to reach out and
experience things on his or her own. It deprives the child of feeling the
thrill of achievement, or experiencing the consequences of their choices.

Over-involvement
occurs when parents are always checking up on their children. Over-involved
parents do not let their children be independently responsible for completing
tasks.

Parents often
over-indulge from a loving heart, a wish to help children feel good and to
avoid pain. However, adults who were overindulged as children often identified
the outcomes of over-indulgence not as joyful, but painful.

The three
major areas of pain due to over-indulgence that were reported by family life field
specialist Mary Hughes were:

Feelings
of embarrassment or ineffectiveness from not knowing skills they should have
learned during childhood.

Not knowing
what ‘enough’ was, and continuing to over-indulge themselves because they did
not know when to stop.

Being
ridiculed for having been over-indulged

Some
common beliefs are that over-indulgence can lead to attitudes such as: the
inability to delay gratification; selfish thinking; problems with self-care and
interpersonal skills; and an inability to take personal responsibility.

Over-indulging
is thought to be prompted by a certain lack or need within the parents. It has
been suggested that these parents are attempting to work out their own issues.
Perhaps they lacked attention or had to go without things and it was
humiliating.

Now they make
up for it by ensuring that their children will not have to experience feelings
of hurt and humiliation. Sometimes the parents might not be sure how to relate
to their children, yet have a need to be liked, appreciated, or accepted.

If you are
concerned that you are over-indulging your child, ask yourself these four
questions:

Does the
situation keep the child from learning tasks that support his or her own development?

Does the
situation give disproportionate amounts of family resources to one or more
children (i.e., money, time, space or attention)?

Who
benefits the most from the situation, the child or the parent?

Is the
child’s behaviour potentially harmful to others, or to society in some way?

If after
reviewing your answers, you realise that you may be over-indulging your child,
here are five things you as a parent can do to curb this behaviour:

Be in
charge of the rules, you’re the adult.

Teach
children self-care skills, but also let them know that they can come to you if
needed.

Assign
your children household chores to teach responsibility.

Give
children only enough to enhance them.

No is not a bad word.
In other words, you are not hurting
your child by saying no.

 Remember that this change will not be easy,
but it is important in terms of “short-term pain, long-term gain”.

If you
continue to over-indulge your children, they could get to the point where they
are not satisfied by anything and do not feel gratification. Change is hard,
but it involves working hard and being consistent, both of which are ultimately
rewarding. 

To schedule a
confidential appointment regarding this or any other issue, contact the
Employee Assistance Programme, at 949-9559, or via www.eap.ky.

FEATkidSTORY

Over-indulgence is a form of over-parenting.
Photo: File
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