Pampering in simple words means spoiling. Pampering can be done through various actions such as buying gifts, providing luxury, and overindulging children’s needs and wants.
Out of love and affection for their children, parents often intentionally or unintentionally pamper their children. To a certain extent, it does not harm. But if pampering gets out of hand, this could reinforce various negative behaviors in children.
Most parents pamper their children unintentionally. If a child cries for a certain toy, they buy it for him/her to make him/her stop crying. This reinforces the child’s behavior. He or she will cry every time they need something from the parent. Pampering creates a belief in children, that people around them should cater to their needs and wants. Pampering may seem like a positive action but it only weakens a child.
Pampering does not just include materialistic things but also parents doing their children’s daily tasks that they are completely capable of carrying out by themselves.
Especially in Indian households, parents and grandparents feed the children, bathe them, make their beds, even dress them. After a certain age, the children can do these tasks independently, yet parents do not allow them to. This develops a dependent nature from a young age. It is during these foundational years that parents should let the children do their daily tasks independently. Even if they are doing it wrong, let them do it, teach them, guide them, let them make mistakes. Children must be able to bathe themselves, eat on their own, dress themselves. Learning to do these tasks is just as important as potty training.
Another widespread habit of many Indian parents is that when the child asks for some help while doing homework, the parents end up doing the entire homework for the children. This is an example of excessive care. Extended parenting care is when parents continue to provide care for children even when they no longer need it. An example is when parents carry their children even after they have learned how to walk. This unintentional pampering causes a physical delay in children further making them idle.
As a result of pampering, there also exists a psychological syndrome seen in children called the pampered child syndrome. This syndrome is a result of giving children anything that they ask for especially materialistic things. Seeking attention from everybody around is seen in people who have been pampered during their childhood.
Parents do not realize that excessive pampering directly impacts children as they grow. The morals of pampered children are very weak. There have been numerous examples of children going rogue due to excessive pampering.
Dr. Jane Nelsen developed the Positive discipline method to help discipline children. This method can especially be used on pampered children. It is an authoritative parenting method wherein clear boundaries are set and consequences of desired and undesired behavior are discussed. The consequences of undesired behavior do not involve violent responses such as shouting, beating, etc. Rather than using retribution, it relies on seeking alternatives to unwanted habits. Positive discipline involves strong communication between parents and children. The parents ought to be kind but stay firm with the children. It can be difficult for the parents to not lose their temper, but they have to stay calm throughout and not get frustrated with the children. Parents need to inculcate social and emotional learning as part of parenting. Children need to be taught to manage and be more aware of their emotions and behaviors and learn responsible decision-making. The best way to teach children is by practicing these behaviors at home. Children learn a great deal from observation. They need to be taught be to be empathetic towards others, treat people with respect. Parents can speak to each other politely and with respect, children will observe and learn these little things.
Mindful parenting is a great way of being consciously aware of your feelings and emotions and thus having full control of what your response to the child’s actions is. Use the various recreational and resilient methods to keep a check of your emotions when feeling overwhelmed and teach your kids the same.
Employing these simple changes in your lives will help undo the ill effects of pampering. Parents should be consistent in their efforts if they want to notice change in their children’s behavior.
Sakina Shaikh is a graduate in psychology aspiring to become a behavioural psychologist. She is calm, composed, always looking for the good in everything around her. A happy soul, art enthusiast, and an animal lover. She is passionate about teaching and making a difference in future generations by being a part of children’s learning experiences during their foundational years.