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How to stop an only child being spoilt?

(24 Posts)
mewkins Fri 19-Jul-13 22:26:33

^yes to some of each of the above posts! It's not all and always about upbringing.....I sort of didn't appreciate that we are all born with personality traits which are evident from really early on and then kind of magnify and even out at different stages. I have a dd who will stand her own ground, tussle over toys, has a vice-like grip etc but is also capable of loyalty, determination, amazing energy etc. She accepts no but will always either try to to talk her way out of something or scream in frustration if she is over tired etc. She is spririted and it will stand her in great stead as she gets older.

I guess I mean to say that you can plan and plan how you will bring up your child, respond to behaviour and negate all character traits that you don't like. BUT things will never pan out as planned - there is no model child just as there is no model parent. You have to just do your best with the little person you are given iyswim.

fififrog Thu 18-Jul-13 21:44:22

I agree with bumblebeaver - your view of things may well shift if you have a toddler with a particularly strong sense of what they want. It's not all that easy to work out the best way to stop them having tantrums to be honest, and I also think your nephew sounds pretty normal given the kids I've seen at playgroup and in the park.

CalamityGin Thu 18-Jul-13 14:37:02

it has nothing to do with how many there are and everything to do with upbringing. Stop worrying.

cory Thu 18-Jul-13 10:30:52

Remember that most of your memories of how strictly you were brought up and how well behaved you were are likely to stem from a much older age than 3. As a 3yo you won't have had any idea of what your behaviour looked like from outside, so even any memories of yourself you may have from that age are likely to be unreliable.

I remember myself as a very sensible, mature, quiet and well behaved child, who was eager to please and understood about boundaries. Unfortunately, my mother's memories go back a few years further... blush

Firm parenting with sensible boundaries can bring most children up to be sensible and well behaved eventually. But (and this used to be my mantra) child-rearing is work in progress.

Just because you come up with the right parenting response on one occasion, don't expect your child to modify their behaviour there and then. It may still take years of repeating the same response until the sum-total of your correct parenting responses starts paying off. In the meantime, other people will be judging you. Doesn't mean you have failed- it's just part of what you sign up for, along with the pooey nappies and sleepless nights.

perplexedpirate Wed 17-Jul-13 22:59:35

Ignore mummy OP, you don't need to 'come back' after anything.
I had zero experience of children before I had DS. I wish I'd known of Mumsnet before I had him.
Knowledge is never wasted, good for you for boning up before the fact.

mummytime Wed 17-Jul-13 21:18:04

Sorry come back when you have a child, or have a lot more experience of children.

Your nephew sounds pretty ordinary. Most 3 year olds are pretty selfish, and can through a strop if they don't get their own way. It is very unfair to compare with a 4 year old.

However to avoid an only child being spoilt, let them interact with lots of other children. Have boundaries, but also treat them as an individual.

Only children suffer from two things from their parents: two much attention (and the burden of too many expectations), and being ignored because the parents are too wrapped up in themselves or treat the child as older than they are. A child cannot be loved unconditionally too much.

Finally modern psychology doesn't believe that children enter the world as a blank slate, but with a pre-existing personality. Babies can train their parents.

LostLion Wed 17-Jul-13 21:02:02

My three year old demonstrates a lot of the same behaviour as your nephew and I wouldn't describe him as spoiled - just an average 3 year old confused.

I'd say don't worry about it - all kids go through these phases only or not.....just model good behaviour, taking turns, give lots of opportunity for them to interact with other children etc.

ChunkyPickle Wed 17-Jul-13 20:50:23

DS is just 3, and will cease being an only in September. He's spoiled in that he has all our attention (completely for 1 year when we lived abroad and I didn't like mother and toddler groups, then he had ours and his grandparents sole attention for another year!).

He has our cast off technology and stuff, but he doesn't demand things, he does accept that no means no, he's really good at sharing and being nice to other children.

I think that in many ways it's down to personality again - some kids will act spoiled, and some won't.

perplexedpirate Wed 17-Jul-13 20:39:16

We are sticklers for no meaning no. Actual, factual no.
DS is 5.6 now and is very hot on sharing and fair play. If you demonstrate these things they'll pick them up, no matter how many of them there are!
(I realise I sound quite sanctimonious, but we are very proud of him, especially after all the 'ooh, only one eh?' Comments from friends and family hmm).

TiredFeet Wed 17-Jul-13 20:05:55

I thought my son would be an only, as ttc took us so long.... so it I am still in shock at my surprise 2nd pregnancy grin

anyway, things I have done because I assumed he would be an only - he goes to nursery part time while I work, and this has been really good for him, he has some very close friends. on my days off we go to toddler groups as well. we also tend to take a lot of our holidays with at least one other family, so he has children to spend time with.

bumblebeaver Wed 17-Jul-13 19:58:38

arch please nobody mention my rogue apostrophe in the first line <deep shame>

bumblebeaver Wed 17-Jul-13 19:57:21

I found all children quite badly behaved - until I had children. Now I think they're all quite normal - i.e. sometimes good. Some parent's don't set down clear boundaries, are exhausted or prefer not to lay down the law when in the company of others. We have an only child who gets more stuff than many and I'm not massively strict (not like I thought I'd be) but I have a clear idea in my mind how I want him to be and the patience and determination to form him in that way. I agree with insanity.

ChoudeBruxelles Wed 17-Jul-13 19:48:15

You can be spoilt with siblings too. Ds is an only and yes he is spoilt (if that's what you want to call it for) with our attention. I'm not about to stop doing things with him or paying him attention because he would have to share that if he had siblings.

He has lots of things but not everything he wants, is told "no" a lot. I know some of his friends who have siblings but much more materially/get to do more things than ds - mostly because I guess their parents have more disposable income than us.

ChoudeBruxelles Wed 17-Jul-13 19:47:55

You can be spoilt with siblings too. Ds is an only and yes he is spoilt (if that's what you want to call it for) with our attention. I'm not about to stop doing things with him or paying him attention because he would have to share that if he had siblings.

He has lots of things but not everything he wants, is told "no" a lot. I know some of his friends who have siblings but much more materially/get to do more things than ds - mostly because I guess their parents have more disposable income than us.

makingdoo Wed 17-Jul-13 19:39:33

Thanks Gold I know I'm over thinking it! It's very typical of me. I just want desperately to be a good parent and do everything I can to have a well rounded child.

I am very (inwardly) judgey when I see some parents with their DC but realise that I may not respond in the way I think when I'm faced with reality.

Goldmandra Wed 17-Jul-13 15:12:36

You are overthinking big time!

All first children are only children for a while unless they are twins, triplets, etc. They don't all end up spoilt.

It sounds very unlikely that your own child would be behaving how your nephew does for very long because it won't work to get them what they want.

I have known plenty of children with siblings behave like this too because it's about how the adult responds, not whether there is a sibling to compete with.

Good luck with getting started smile

makingdoo Wed 17-Jul-13 11:35:05

Thank you for your responses!

My nephew is a lovely child but is over indulged and gets away with some bahaviour that I'd find hard to tolerate!

I do totally see that other children can be spoilt and I think it's the worst thing a child can be!

Myself and DH where both brought up with strict discipline and boundaries. I wouldn't want my parenting to be the same as my parents, somewhere in between would be nice.

That's for the great advice.

Fingers crossed for this months TTC!

FossilMum Wed 17-Jul-13 11:10:44

Only children really don't have to be spoilt, and non-onlies are perfectly capable of being spoilt. My only son (5) would never dream of knocking another child off a bicycle, and shares better with others than do many of his classmates/cousins who are used to fighting over the possession of toys with their siblings. I did take him to regular 'Mums and tots' classes from age 1 to help him learn about sharing and playing with others. He does prefer adult company to that of other children, and at 3 he largely ignored other children, but that is reasonably common at that age and he is now becoming much more sociable with being at school.

The most spoiled people I know are my SIL, the youngest of 4 - constantly wangling money and presents out of both parents. And my twin cousins, given everything they ask for by their over-wealthy parents. As elQuinto says, being spoilt is getting everything you want, esp. by the whining/tantrumming method. Some tantrums are common at your nephew's age, but if you don't give in to tantrums they won't get spoiled from them - they'll grow out of them.

Good luck!

insanityscratching Wed 17-Jul-13 10:53:54

I don't think being an only child or not has anything to do with being spoilt to be honest. I don't think it's anything to do with having lots of opportunities or material gifts either I think it's about the values you give your child.
I have five children (four of them adults) who have had everything their hearts desired and in regards to youngest dd everything she desires and then some more but she isn't spoilt at all. She's grateful, kind, generous, loving, well mannered and very much aware that she is very fortunate and isn't greedy or grabby or demanding. She works hard, does chores and treats everyone respectfully because she still has rules to follow and responsibilities to meet regardless.
Likewise my friend has the same mix of children who haven't had anything near what mine have had but they are spoilt and entitled because they haven't had the same sort of boundaries and discipline that mine have.
I think if you are so aware that you don't want your child to be spoilt then you are unlikely to spoil them tbh.

AMumInScotland Wed 17-Jul-13 10:50:17

Your nephew doesn't sound that unusual for his age tbh - they are very self-centred at that age in general, and have little to no concept of other people mattering, except in how it affects them personally.

My DS is an only, and I'd say he has turned into a pleasant and unspoilt person. I think there are obvious things that you can do like playing games where you have to take turns, making him wait appropriately for your attention rather than jumping to satisfy every whim, not running the household around him.

You can also make sure he has opportunities to relate to other children in an environment where they just have to get on with each other - things like Brownies/Cubs, sports, music, anything where they have to work as a team and grow to understand that people have different temperaments and strengths/weaknesses but are equally valid human beings.

And make sure you don't let your world revolve around him too much - both because he could become spoilt but also because it can put a lot of pressure on a child to feel he has to be everything to you. As he gets older, make sure you have interests and hobbies rather than being solely focussed on his success/happiness, so that you give him space to work out what he wants, separate from pleasing you.

makingdoo Wed 17-Jul-13 10:41:21

Thanks elQuinto - I do think I'm over thinking it all a little!

I do believe my nephew is a little spoilt. He does expect to get everything he wants and his dad seems to pander to him a lot. I know that our parenting style will be really different.

What made it really obvious was a party I took him to at the weekend. There where 2 boys aged 4.4 and a boy around 2.3 and a few other kids milling around. He seemed to be the only one causing unease! He demanded anything the other kids had, and tantrumed when told no. He even pushed the younger boy off his bike because he wanted it!
It just made me think as no other child at the party caused any problems or threw and tantrums. I was a little embarrassed I think.

elQuintoConyo Wed 17-Jul-13 10:37:09

Oh, and he spends as much time as possible with other children - in the park, his cousins. He does prefer playing with older dc, even six months older; he finds other 19mo boring! I feel terrible!
He also has a tantrum when frustrated, eg the square block won't go in the round hole - I think that is normal and in that respect he's just like me!

elQuintoConyo Wed 17-Jul-13 10:32:55

I'd say behaviour for the 3.5yo is about average? Our 'only' DS is only 19mo and he stomps his little foot when he can't have something he wants - usually a full cup of tea or the snail climbing the wall!
I imagine giving in to every whim spoils a child. When we say 'no' 100 times a day we mean no, not 'no, no, no... oh for god's sake ok then'.
DS is stull at home until he starts nursey in September so will learn about sharing, I'm sure it'll take a while to grasp it. Not all dc with siblings like sharing, either! I know my sister and I fought like cat and dog.
To me, spoilt it getting everything you want - avoid that and you should be ok.

makingdoo Wed 17-Jul-13 10:22:51

We are TTC at the moment and its taking a lot longer than we hoped. I'm 34 and thinking we will probably only have one child.

I'm worried that it will be spoilt and suffer as a result of not having any siblings.

I know there are loads of only children in the world but the only real reference is my nephew who is 3.10.
He's a lovely child but very demanding and selfish. He doesn't understand that not everything belongs to him, doesn't seem to understand the concept of sharing. I do think his dad indulges him too much and he then thinks every adult should respond in the same way. I try to be firm but fair with him but sometimes this causes real foot stomping tantrums. Also he gets really angrily frustrated when he can't do something or if something doesn't work. He doesn't like playing independently (likes adult company) but then seems to ignore other children.

As I say I don't have much hands on experience of children but I would like my child not to be spoilt. I know it's a lot to do with how we bring our child up but I'd like to know people's experiences of only children and how to compensate in a positive way for them not having siblings.

Thanks for reading if you got this far!

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