True freedom is impossible without a mind made free by discipline – Mortimer J. Adler
To start with, every child deserves the cares and love of her parents and, indeed, all the adults around. Show of love, care and affection should, therefore, never be confused with pampering a child. Of course, everything – no matter how good, becomes bad when misused, abused or overused.
Giving a child an appropriate dose of care and attention is not what is considered pampering in this context. In fact, these are privileges that every child deserves. So, what do I mean by pampering a child and how does it impact the life of such child?
To pamper a child is to ignore making clear and definite corrections when a child dabbles into wrong deeds. It is allowing unguided freedom that deprives him/her a sense of order. Sometimes, the action of pampering is directed at saving a child from immediate pains and stress but it is exactly what is needed to build self-worth and resilience that will help the child later in life. A popular quote by Henry David Thoreau is precise on this: “The path of least resistance leads to crooked rivers and makes crooked men.”
If you want a life out of order, a life without purpose or control, lead a child without rules and clear boundaries. Such a child will grow and learn to be irresponsible, undependable and will be without principles. A life can hardly get more complicated!
A popular African adage has a perfect imagery for this: “A fish should be bent before being roasted since any attempt to bend it after, breaks (destroys) it.” One of the biggest illusions on child training is that a child should be left to grow and mature before being disciplined. That’s a huge error! From two, it is safest to start teaching discipline and confidence to your child.
Join him in the tasks if need be. Guide him to get it done if necessary. Then, watch him fail and improve by the day. Don’t get overprotective. Give him corrections lovingly but do not hesitate to give clear and firm instructions when the need arises, you will be happier later in life for it.
If you wait for your children to grow before setting boundaries, before showing disciplines, like a fish left for the fire before being bent, you will break them. You need to show them “how” while they are young, then step aside and watch them practice. The plan is to raise healthy, independent beings that are capable of standing up for themselves through life.
Another excuse parents use to neglect and indulge their children today is work. To bridge the gaps created by their absence, career parents provide virtually everything the children need, mostly in excess. You overlook and indulge their disrespectful behaviours. The truth is, nothing will replace the attention, the affections and the presence of parents in their children’s lives.
According to Clinical psychologist, Dr Maggie Mamen, author of The Pampered Child Syndrome, “giving your child everything or doing everything for him/her deprives them of learning important messages that will stay with them through life.” This, instead, will only create chaos and make them largely irresponsible. Such kids grow without considerations and respect for others. The depth and quality of their reasoning are usually shallow because, of course, their parents never allow them to put their minds to work. The greatest gift you can give your child is to help them develop a sense of self-worth. Anything less will make them a liability to you, your family and the society at large.
Conversely, to make life worth living, parents should exhibit the quality of discipline and draw clearly articulated boundaries. Children raised under such atmosphere will become responsible and responsive adults who are capable of being trusted by others. They are also able to lead others more purposefully and productively.
Every parent should understand that they will not always be there for their children, it is better to imbibe in them the quality of resilience, independence and self-discipline. In the unlikely event of being always around, it will be a huge disservice to raise children who are incapable of being independent beyond the shadows of their parents’ influence. To raise physically healthy children in such abysmal way is a classic example of failed parenthood. Every child needs to be given the opportunity to become responsible, independent adults.
So, to avoid pampering your child to decadence, you must:
– Set clear boundaries and ensure they are respected. They will learn to respect it.
– Do not set rules you do not intend to enforce. It will eventually lead to anarchy.
– Make them help and give supports, no matter how little, around the house.
– Delegate tasks and share routine tasks among them.
– Sincerely show them love. Do not raise them like robots, know your limits. Everyone, including parents, should have limits.
– Apologise if necessary but do not beg to enforce rules.
– Be a role model to your children. They learn more quickly through what they see.
– Do not pretend to be infallible. Accept when you are wrong and make necessary corrections.
– Teach them respect, teamwork and tolerance. They will need them to survive later in life.
Lastly, no one is born a perfect parent. Learn every day, make adjustments and become a better parent on a daily basis.
Sanusi Okesola S