How to Stop Spoiling Your Tween

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When your children are young it's easy to spoil them with love, affection and even with toys or other offerings. But as your child matures, spoiling them can have some major consequences and blowback. Truly, no one likes a spoiled and entitled teenager, and a spoiled and entitled adult is even worse. And it's not just popularity that's impacted when you spoil your older child.

The truth is, if you're spoiling your preteen, you're really not helping your child learn how to deal with the ups and downs that everybody has to face in life.

By spoiling your child, you could be making things worse for your child in the long run.

Below are a few ways you can put a stop to your own parenting behavior, as well as help your child become more responsible, resilient, and productive. Here's how to stop spoiling your tween, and raise a happy, confident, and self-assured older child.

Demand Your Child Contribute

There are no excuses now, your child is old enough to help with chores and other household duties, such as making dinner, watching younger siblings, attending to sick or older relatives, and even managing things for a little bit while you're busy or at work. Be sure your tween knows exactly what chores or responsibilities he or she is responsible for, and explain what he or she needs to do. If your child understands your expectations and can take the direction your tween should be just fine. Refrain from micromanaging your child — rather, find constructive ways to help your tween improve skills and expand them.

Make Your Child Face the Music

It can be difficult to let our children learn from their mistakes, but there is no better teacher than experience. If your child fails a test because he or she hasn't been doing his homework, or if your tween misses the bus because he or she can't get up in the morning, you probably need to allow your child to learn from the experience.

If your child's grades go down because of lack of effort, consequences should follow.

That might mean not participating in a beloved sport, or it could mean losing other privileges until his or her grades improve. Try to avoid bailing your child out of trouble, as well as making uncomfortable consequences easier by running interference.

Stop Playing Santa

Tweens can be pretty demanding when it comes to fashion and all the "must-haves," but the reality is your child doesn't need every latest gadget or a pair of sneakers in every color. While you may have the economic means to shower your older child with gifts, you may want to reconsider your generosity and how it will impact your tween long term.

If your tween gets everything he or she wants, you're setting your child up for a lifetime of disappointment when the realities of everyday living confront expectations, and eventually, they always do. Instead of playing Santa 365 days a year, ask your tween to work for the things he or she really wants — either by earning money like a mother's helper or with another tween appropriate job or by working for you tackling household projects that you've been putting off. That should help vaccinate your tween against affluenza.

Make Them Set Goals

Believe it or not, learning how to set and achieve goals doesn't come naturally for preteens, but helping your child see ahead and plan for it is a skill that will benefit your tween for a lifetime. Setting goals and working towards them is the exact opposite of entitlement. If your tween is pining away for the latest set of headphones, resist the urge to run out and purchase them. Instead, help your tween set the goal of buying them, and then help him or her figure out how to do that. Your tween may decide to save any money earned from chores or an after-school job, or your tween may decide to tackle a business venture by opening a lemon-aid stand.

Your child's approach to school success should be the same. If your tween hopes for straight-As, they will have to figure out how to make that accomplishment achievable. Expecting good grades without putting in the effort is another way children demonstrate spoiled behavior.

Give your child the tools to dream and then help your tween develop a plan for success.

Learn How to Say "No"

A child doesn't become spoiled overnight, it's a process that takes years in the making. Part of the problem of spoiled tweens is that they never hear the word, "No" from their parents. Many adults strive to form a friendship with their growing child, in the hopes of becoming a confidant or even a "bestie." But right now what your child needs the most is a parent, and parenting sometimes means having to say, "No."

While saying "No" to outrageous requests won't make you popular with your tween, it will help your child understand limitations and learn how to cope with disappointment. If your child wants to ignore their curfew, go to a concert the night before a big test, or expects you to shell out money for the latest gadget that you know will be a passing fad, then it's your job to draw the line where it needs to be.

It may be uncomfortable to set limits and say, "no," at first, but you'll get used to clarifying reasonable expectations, and so will your tween.

How Does Your Tween Treat Others?

Not sure if your tween is spoiled? Ask yourself how your tween treats other people, including family members. Does your tween talk back to teachers, coaches, or other adults? Does he or she reprimand friends when they disappoint? Does she talk back to you or torment younger siblings?

If you've spoiled your child or neglected to discipline him or her for unacceptable behavior, you'll know simply by observing your child with others. While you may have some serious catch-up work to do to help your tween develop better social skills and behaviors, you shouldn't be quick to give up. It may take a while to break bad habits, both yours and your tweens.

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