Experts are saying over-indulgence is one of the most insidious forms of child abuse. At times, spoiling a child can be appropriate, but how do you know where to draw the line? Consider these three questions when asking yourself if you are ‘over’’ spoiling your child.

Do you normally take the path that has the least resentence?

We have all been there when your child is having a meltdown in the middle of a store because he or she wants a certain toy. People in the store are starting to stare and you know the quick fix is to allow your child to have the toy. How often do you find yourself giving in to make the situation easier? By doing these things, you are allowing your child to be in charge. They have you wrapped around their little fingers and will continue to test their limits with you. You are allowing your child to think this is an acceptable behaviour. So what happens when they get older and want something? They will test their limits and try any means possible to get the results they want, because that’s what they have been taught to do.

Do you over praise your child?

Recent studies have shown that even using simple words can lead to the development of over spoiling your child and turning them into little narcissists. For example, telling your child they are more special than anyone or that they are a great example for others is what the experts are telling us not to do!

Yes, we should praise our children as it does help instill confidence in them. However, one must consider how we praise them and when. We need to make sure that we as parents are praising our children after they have done something worthy praising. We also need to be aware of how we are singing these praises. Instead of telling your child they are the smartest kid in the class, one could say, “you must be one of the smartest kids in the class”. By making this simple change, you are stating that there are other children in the class just as smart as them. You do not want your children to think they are better than others.

Do you shield your child from making mistakes and receiving consequences?

It is your job as a parent to protect your children. However, it is the job of the child to make mistakes. Are you fully allowing your children to make mistakes and take chances? We know that kids will test their limits. They are going to fall, they are going to lie to get out of trouble and they are going to take risks. Children need to fail a few times to discover it is part of life. As adults, it is important to show that we also make mistakes and suffer the consequences. Studies have shown that children who are not allowed to make their own mistakes are at a higher risk for developing low self-esteem and high arrogance. As well they may develop anxiety in their adult years.

Striking a balance between loving a child unconditionally and over spoiling them can be a difficult task to master. Parents will naturally overindulge their children, but need to be mindful of over spoiling them. By being conscious of the outcomes that spoiling a child may lead to, parents are laying a solid foundation for their child’s future.