Baby Whimpering

What is baby whimpering and how do we spoil a child?
New Zealand child psychologist Nigel Latta says that it is very easy to spoil a child. You merely “indulge their every whim”.

According to Latta, parents give in to their child’s every desire for three reasons, because

  • they had “crap childhoods”
  • they feel bad if their children feel bad
  • giving in is just easiest

Psychologist, Jackie Riach who runs the Triple P Positive Parenting Programme in New Zealand says that the term spoil is less used these days – people tend to use the term indulged or pampered.

Whatever the term, the behavior that we see the nest: the tantrums, the crying for attention, the inability to accept the word no. For some children – it can just be that they are used to having their needs met very quickly and when there is a delay they can react negatively.

“It could be that the child goes to everything, does everything available – there is no sense of moderation,” says Riach.

In most times this is only parents fault, if they had just held back.

“Most parents want the very best for their child, for them to have good self esteem. Most families are well intentioned but they’ve fallen into traps.”

For instance, the mother has a visitor and the child times the visit to throw a tantrum until she is given something she wants. The mother gives in to get some peace.. The child learns, that having a tantrum means she gets what she wants. It’s what Riach calls an “accidental reward”. Her advice here is to set the child up with some exciting activities just before or after the visitors arrive. Preparation is key.

If parents do give in on these occasions, they should ask themselves: “What is my child learning from this?” says Riach.

Another story the psychologist tells is of some parents who wanted their child out of their bed at night – she was well beyond toddler age. They decided to use a reward scheme and at the end of the the week, after not getting into bed with them, she was given a $300 dolls house. Rather over the top some might argue. “You’ve got to have that “sense of balance. Some parents are not givng a sense of balance. They should ask themselves: “Is this helpful to my child?” says Riach.

The psychologist is a fan of showing children that in order to get something they have to do something for it. They might put their lunchbox in the school bag, or feed the family pet. There is a sense that this is a family where everybody contributes to make the machine operate harmoniously.

Some children do just need more attention, says Riach, but there are ways of handling this. Little and often, is the key, she says. For instance the mother admires the Lego tower built by the demanding toddler, but suggests they add some more and promises to return in a few minutes.

For those of us with friends who have difficult children, we probably don’t see as much of them as we would if they had pleasant children. Riach argues that if you don’t have these children over to play, both the child and the parent becomes more socially isolated. Also the difficult child doesn’t get to see the more appropriate behavior of your children.

Family therapist, Diane Levy and author of “They look so lovely, when they’re asleep,” doesn’t think that there are spoilt children, rather they are children who have been spoiled. Allow your children to make mistakes and support them, she says. The most important thing is to handle common frustration every step of the way.

It’s very important that children learn to take no for an answer, says the parenting coach. They have to learn to say no to themselves too. When they get older and are presented with very compelling temptations they should have to learned to say no, or there could be some problems ahead.

One of the things spoiled children like is instant gratification. But delayed gratification is important for children, developmentally, says Levy.The age old phrase of parents: “I want doesn’t get,” is something all children should hear from their parents from time to time.

It is our job as parents to differentiate between need and want,” says Levy.