By Kelly Olson
The Village Family Service Center
As parents, we want what's best for our kids. Often we do what we can to make them happy. We don't want them to experience struggle, turmoil or disappointment, so we try hard to satisfy their wishes.
While we may have the best of intentions, sometimes it goes too far. Overindulgence happens when we satisfy the child's wishes to an extreme extent.
Kids who are overindulged may begin to think that the way they're growing up is how the world works. They start to expect that they can buy anything they want when they want it.
Stress can cause parents to at times be more indulgent. For example, when you're at the store and your child wants something, do you buy it to avoid your child throwing a fit?
It's important to think about the reason we are purchasing items for our children. Do they really need it? Does it help them grow emotionally, spiritually, physically? What are the life lessons that we are trying to teach our kids? (And does buying them three different gaming systems and letting them have a TV in their room do that?)
Indulgence is about more than spending; it is also about setting expectations, such as for kids doing their chores or eating their vegetables. We need to teach these lessons, too.
Realize it's OK to set limits for kids and to say "NO." Life isn't always about being told yes; we are preparing our kids for the no's of the world as well. Kids need to make a lot of decisions, and are often not at a developmental age to make them. They need their parents to guide them.
Here are some guidelines for parents to avoid overindulgence:
- Set rules about large purchases. For example, make your kids wait until Christmas or their birthday to receive large items.
- Make a plan for shopping trips and discuss it with your child. ("We will not be buying any presents during this trip to the store.")
- Don't be quick to solve your child's issues with their coach, teacher, friends, etc.
- Expect kids to do chores, and that their chores will be done prior to privileges.
- Communicate expectations about family time, such as eating dinner together or what behaviors are expected during special family nights.
- Establish rules about devices. Decide what age a child will be allowed to own a phone, when and how it will be used (turned off at night, how many hours a day, which apps are OK), where it will be allowed, etc.
- Teach your child the value of a dollar. Have your child help you purchase your items within your shopping budget. Give your child an allowance and expect that they will save and spend their own money for certain items.
- Make financial plans as a family. Involve older children in saving up for a family trip. They may be able to come up with ways to reduce monthly spending.
Watch Kelly talk about this issue on North Dakota Today.
Are you concerned about overindulging your child? The Village can help you with your parenting struggles. Call 1-800-627-8220 or request an appointment with a counselor today.