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Do you have a spoiled kid?

  • Published at 09:41 pm July 14th, 2016
  • Last updated at 02:29 am July 15th, 2016
Do you have a spoiled kid?

 A little boy around five yelled at his father. After a while, he threw himself down on the ground and flailed around the floor. His embarrassed father stood by, silently trying to get him up. The boy then tried to punch his fists at his father's face. He kept screaming and began to wail, and this continued for like half an hour.

I was waiting for my doctor at a popular hospital in Dhanmondi. As other patients walked by them, they whispered, “At this age, look how he is behaving with his father!” Finally, out of exhaustion his father told him with embarrassment, “Okay, let's go to a toy shop to buy an airplane for you.” Almost instantly, the boy smiled and got up from the floor.

A child's behaviour says a lot about the influences on their upbringing. Parents these days want to be friends with their children by giving them anything they ask for, and sometimes they don't pay any attention at home. As a result, the children feel that they can get anything they want or they are constantly trying to get attention from their parents, which is what they crave for.

No one wants to raise a spoiled kid. If you're spoiling your children, you will know it. The behaviour of your children will clue you in. They will be rude to you and others, they will whine, throw tantrums, they will make unnecessary demands, they will be self-centred and unreasonable. “Spoiling doesn't prepare them for anything but heartache later in life.” says psychologist Ruth A. Peters, PhD, author of the child discipline manual Laying Down the Law. She also agreed that a spoiled child typically grows into a spoiled adult, who later faces many difficulties in maintaining jobs, family relations and friendships. Almost every parent is facing similar problems with their children. But why is this happening?

Things are very different now than when we were growing up in the 90's. If we can identify the differences between these two generations, we can understands what went wrong.

In the 90's, playing outside our homes was a very normal thing for the kids. Our parents let us play in dirt and cleaned our faces and hands in water, not antibacterial soaps. We used to stay outside till sundown with our neighbour's children, and we didn't return home until our parents screamed for us to come inside. We didn't live under the supervision of nannies. But today, parents are afraid of letting their children play outside – what if kidnappers come and abduct them? Parents today like their children cooped up in the house all day long and give them computers, iPods, iPads, playstations, xboxes and any other devices that can make their children stay at home. People call it technological progress, but it's really the fear that strikes the parents and the perception of security for their children.

Due to these overprotective attitudes, we are always seeing little kids with cellphones in their hands. More than 69% of children between 11-14 years old and 31% of kids aged 8-10 own a cell phone, according to a survey by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Texting, instagramming, facebooking, playing games all day long – the children are interacting with others from behind the screens, but when they are facing people in real life, they are feeling scared and uncomfortable. When we were kids, our entertainment was our friends but now the only entertainment is the electronic devices. We didn't have any cellphones or Internet in our childhood, so we had plenty of times for physical activities.

Today, parents are also treating their children as the centres of their world. Making them feel that the world revolves around them teaches them to not consider others' needs and desires. Parents are also failing to set limits from an early age and enforcing discipline and guidelines that can teach the children respect, patience and the value of life. Sometimes, parents ignore all the positive behaviours of their children. Appreciating the good work done by children have a positive impact on their minds, but sometimes parents accidentally do the opposite and reward negative behaviour, such as through giving them attention when they whine and cry. Another big mistake that parents make today is when they refuse to hold their children accountable when they do something wrong. It is very alarming as it sends the message that the children will never do something wrong, and they can blame others for their mistakes. It's very important to teach the children to take responsibility for their wrong actions.

All the changed behaviour patterns of these children are manifesting as depression, anxiety, narcissism, failure to follow rules and more serious negative behaviour, such as aggression, loss of self-control and physical violence. To some extent, they are ending up participating in more risky actions such as using alcohol and drugs - remember the incident of #ClassyKidsOfDhaka, where a teenager collided with two rickshaws with his SUV and allegedly killed a four year old child? A recent photo that appeared on Facebook also shows a group of kids from 8-10 years old who were celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr holding bottles of alcohol in their hands. When parents hear that they have spoiled children, they either go into denial, or dole out harsh punishment.

Instead, they should look towards creating an environment where children can learn a system of values and other life skills. Parents should emphasise on children's mental health, especially from early age. They can help their children to attain remarkable self-discipline and allow their children to play with other kids as a support system that teaches them to make bonds and look outside of themselves. Parents need to be rolemodels for their children, from whom they can learn about a good life and the values of society. Next time, if your children create tantrums in a public place, think about bending the rules for the betterment of their future.

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