Love Will Never Spoil Children
There are those who keep thinking that hugging children too much, showing them affection, and cuddling them will end up spoiling little ones. That we will make little uncontrollable tyrants of them.
Maybe this is why we keep hearing things like “it is better to build a separation from them as soon as possible” or that paying too much attention to them at night when they cry is a mistake, and that it is better to let them calm down on their own. We have to be very careful when it comes to these popular beliefs, which sometimes tend not to contain much wisdom.
Love that is offered with wisdom, fulfillment, freedom, and intelligence will never spoil a child. Because educating a child about emotions is educating them from happiness and not from fear or coercion.
The biggest cause of “spoiling” a child is in reality the lack of attention or indifference. For example, resorting to the offer of our cell phone to a 2-year-old child so that it will calm down and entertain them for a bit while we are doing other things. Offering our child attention, affection, and love is never going to spoil them.
Raising your child with emotional intelligence
We all know, too, that there are demanding children who show a high level of need. They want attention, recognition, words, and they constantly play towards breaking our limits. Whether we believe it or not, affection is going to be our key tool. We must display intelligent affection that has strategies in mind.
Wise affection knows how to recognize a child’s achievements, impose limits, and and use of the positive correction of their mistakes to educate a person who is more sure of himself, with less frustration and greater self-esteem.
We know that educating is not easy, that each child has certain needs, and that the same advice does not even work for two siblings.
So then, preventing our children from being spoiled does not at all depend on the attention that we give them, but rather in offering “high-quality, intelligent attention.” This is why it is necessary to keep in mind the following guidelines:
Say yes to secure and consistent attachment
Children, especially in their first years of life, need an attachment to their parents in order to develop a secure connection to that first social context, which is the family.
A secure attachment implies that we are always going to react with some consistency. When a baby cries, it needs to be taken care of; when a child asks a question, it expects to get an answer.
If we do not take care of them, if we do not respond to their questions, the child will try to grab our attention in countless ways. Our children need consistent habits and firm, constructive attachment where they feel safe to discover the world, hand-in-hand with us. Day by day, they will move forward with greater independence.
Say no to the easiest strategy
Loving someone is worrying about that person, in this case, our children. And worrying and investing time in our children will also never spoil them.
There are mothers and fathers who, in order to save time and avoid tears or tantrums, prefer “the easy way out”: giving in. If my child cries because I have not given him the milk in his older sister’s glass, I end up taking the cup away from one to give it to the other. And indeed, this can end things early and do away with the tears, but effectively what I am doing is giving in: “spoiling.”
And given that we love them, we are going to teach them to control those emotions. To teach them that you cannot always get what you want, and that anger, and tears are not always the way to achieve your goals. We will tell them no, and maybe they will cry today, just like they will tomorrow and the next day. But we will be firm and we will keep educating them to resist frustration until they finally understand it.
Do not make use of emotional blackmail; use Emotional Intelligence
“You are going to annoy me to death,” “Behave, because if you don’t, I won’t love you anymore,” “If you do that, all of the other children are going to make fun of you”… This sort of emotional blackmail is not a good strategy.
Always remember that words have power, and that children understand a lot more than we think. Avoid emotional blackmail or we we will hand over powerful blackmailers to the world who will make other people unhappy.
Every obligation or punishment must be explained so that the child understands. Care for their emotions and always try to transform that pent-up anger, that fear, or sadness into words.
Dedicating time to them, looking them in the eye and at their height when they are mad, and making each one of their words the most important for you will never spoil them.
Giving them a voice, recognition, and autonomy in their daily life will not spoil them, either
When we offer them some responsibility and we give them a bit more liberty, we are not spoiling them. We are helping them to grow and take on new roles, new challenges.
Attachment during the first years of upbringing offers security to the child so that they can grow and discover the world, hand-in-hand with us. Day by day, that hand will pull away, little by little, to guide them more with words, with sincere looks, with the hugs of those who know how to offer recognition, love, and encouragement when it is needed.
Helping a child grow is providing them with an example each and every day, it is offering them quality time and wise, fulfilling love that does not use blackmail, that seeks to educate happy children so that we can give the world capable, free, and mature adults tomorrow.
Images courtesy of Nicoletta Ceccoli and Claudia Tremblay