I Hear You
Expert opinion on spoiling basics
Dr. Richard Bromfield is a psychologist at Harvard Medical School and the author of How to Unspoil Your Child Fast. BettyConfidential.com recently caught up with Dr. Bromfield to discuss spoiled children.
What’s your definition of a spoiled child?
Dr. Bromfield: While there is no pure definition of a spoiled child, we all know one when we see one. Spoiled children can be demanding and bossy. Spoiled children are often unable to appreciate what their parents have given or done for them. Instead, they are focused on what is wanted next. Spoiled children also tend to be impatient, wanting what they want this very second. Some spoiled children are consumed with their own wishes and seem to lack interest in or even an ability to see what others might want or need. Most every parent could easily improve upon and customize this definition based on their own children and experience.
Why are so many children spoiled today?
Dr. Bromfield: As a psychologist and father, I think that today’s parents have it harder than previous generations. Never have the pressures of keeping up with the Joneses, advertisements, corporate manipulation and so forth been greater. Our parents – our children’s grandparents – can roll their eyes when they watch our indulging. But I suspect they, the grandparents, wouldn’t do much better than this generation of parents. There are also many individual and psychological reasons that parents overindulge, including wanting their children to like them, wanting their children to know joy and simply enjoying what it feels like to give. Being the big mean person, the authoritative parent, is a role that is less comfortable for many contemporary parents.
Do most parents realize their children are spoiled?
Dr. Bromfield: Absolutely, yes! A recent survey says that 94 percent of today’s parents judge that their children are spoiled.
What’s the most challenging part of “unspoiling your children?
Dr. Bromfield: Not giving, being the boss and being the authority are all trying. I think above all that, saying no and sticking to it is just a hard, hard thing for many parents to do. My sense is that most parents pretty much know what they would need to do to unspoil their children or to not spoil them in the first place.
Is it ever too late to unspoil a child?
Dr. Bromfield: In most cases, it is never too late. But the older the child, the more firm and consistent the unspoiling needs to be.
What’s one piece of advice you can offer to parents?
Dr. Bromfield: When guilt leads you to give in, grab that guilt by the horns and twist it around to remind yourself what your children really need in order to grow up well and to be unspoiled enough to handle life and its inevitable limitations and tough times.
Profits from the sale of Dr. Bromfield’s book are being split with the Children’s Defense Fund.