Most people think a spoiled brat has rich parents and an overflowing toy box. But a child doesn’t need to have a lot of things to be considered spoiled. Actually, it has a lot more to do with her behavior. If your child often acts demanding or selfish, you may be making some common mistakes that are leading her to become spoiled. But don’t worry just yet…here’s 8 ways to raise a happy kid, while making sure you aren’t spoiling her.

  1. Praise Good Behavior
    It’s easy to catch your little one being naughty but sometimes it’s hard to notice when your child is staying out of trouble. Send the message that positive behavior brings positive results. When you see your child being well-behaved, encourage her by showering her with attention, praise, play, and respect. This will in turn boost her confidence… and make her more fun to be with.

  2. Connect with Respect
    One of the best ways to avoid problems is to be empathetic to your child’s needs so that she knows you care. First, connect with your child by repeating her needs back to her. Once your child calms down, offer her options, like a hug or snack. It’s important to keep it positive – tell her what to do rather than what not to do. By correcting your child with a positive statement, she will feel more respected.

  3. Set Guidelines for Your Child
    It’s a common misconception that kids are like little adults, when in fact, they’re actually more similar to cavemen! They exhibit lots of primitive behaviors, like grunting, biting, or peeing anywhere they want. However, part of your job as a parent is to teach your child social values, like respect and kindness, so he can become a civilized member of society. Teach him to say please when he wants a snack and remind him to not to call people hurtful names when they upset him.

  4. Enforce Rules Consistently
    When you tell your child not to do something but allow her to do it anyways, you’re being mushy or unpredictable with your rules. Being consistent helps your child learn the ideas of right and wrong. If you’re consistent, your tot will soon give up and go along with your demands. They push until the “wall” topples over (in other words, we give in) or until the “wall” stops moving (we hold firm). But if you do have to break your own rule, be sure to clearly explain why you’re making an exception.

  5. Pick Rules You Can Enforce
    When it comes to parenting, you win some and you lose some. Not only will you save yourself time and energy if you know what battles you can and can’t win, you’ll also teach your child that she can’t disobey you. When it comes to no-candy rules, you can always win by not giving your child candy. But when it comes to eat-your-broccoli rules, you can’t (and probably won’t) always win. Your child can close her mouth or spit the broccoli out, leaving you defeated and her triumphant. So, when you sense you’re getting into a struggle that you can’t win, it’s time to switch from giving warnings to asking for compromise.

  6. Reward Your Child for the Right Reasons
    A great time to reward your child with a present is when she has been cooperative and respectful. Explain to your child that you are giving her a gift because you appreciate her good behavior. When your child makes a pouty face or tells you she hates you, resist the urge to give in to her demands. Buying a gift for your child out of guilt diminishes the joy and excitement of the gift because she knows you didn’t really mean it.

  7. Teach Your Child to Be Patient
    Children tend to be impulsive, but by teaching your child the practice of patience-stretching, she will begin to expect to wait when she wants something. Here’s how to do it: When your child asks for something, you can teach her patience by making her wait for it. First, almost give her what she wants but right before you do, hold up your finger and say “Wait! Wait! Just one second!” while you turn around and pretend to look for something. Then, after a few seconds, turn back and immediately give her what she wants, while praising her for good waiting. This technique rewards your child’s patience and builds her trust in you because you followed through.

  8. Be a Role Model for Your Child
    If you show respect and consideration for others, your child will learn to follow suit. On the other hand, if you whine and complain in front of your child, she will copy you. Learn to be a good example in front of your child so that she is encouraged to do the same. The proverb is right, “They do what you do, not what you say.”

Active, engaged parenting in the toddler years to avoid spoiling your child will set her up for a happier, more successful future. If your child manipulates others to get what she wants, she loses the ability to discern when someone is giving to her and when someone is giving in to her. Although in the moment it can be easier to give in to your child’s demands, it will ultimately make her confused, and could be detrimental to forming healthy and meaningful relationships later in life.

Your consistent approach to child discipline will help build so many beneficial traits, including empathy, honesty, kindness, and respect. Of course no one is consistent 100% of the time, but once you start using these simple techniques, you’ll be stunned how quickly your child’s behavior will improve.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.