Spoiled Children Don’t Exist
Catherine Hutter, Ph.D., and Jeffrey Rothweiler, Ph.D., both child clinical psychologists at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, separate fact from fiction regarding children and how they are often labeled.
Myth: There are spoiled children.
Dr. Hutter: No, there aren’t. The word “spoiled” indicates that there’s something wrong with a child in some way. You never want to imply that about any child. You have to be careful about the way you use language with children, because they can pick up on negative feelings without fully understanding what a word means.
You can say a child acts entitled or whines and cries if she doesn’t get her way, but that doesn’t mean she’s spoiled.
Myth: It’s important to tell children when they are acting spoiled and call them on it.
Dr. Rothweiler: It’s valuable for children to have feedback, but it needs to be in the form of an explanation, not name-calling. Children need to know how their actions are seen by others and may affect others, but always in a kind, instructive manner.
Myth: Children who have an abundance of material possessions are more likely to act spoiled than other children who are not so well off.
Dr. Hutter: This isn’t always the case. It’s more about the way children react to what they have than anything else. If you give your daughter a puppy, others may think you’re spoiling her, but if she feeds, walks and takes care of the puppy, then you’re actually teaching her a lesson in responsibility.
Myth: Kids should be given everything they want and should never be disciplined.
Dr. Rothweiler: Understand that while you want to give your kids the best in life, sometimes that means saying “no” and reprimanding them. Parenting isn’t easy, but if you act out of love and with good judgment, you and your kids will be okay.
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