Parents

Is your kid a spoiled brat? Check out these tips

Every parent has trouble saying no to their little darlings. What many don't realize is that the limits you set will help prepare them for life as adults. Parenting expert Nancy Samalin was invited on "Today" to offer advice on how to say no when you need to.

Parents have to know the difference between their kids’ needs and their wants because kids don’t know the difference.

“I have to have it!  I need it!”“I’m the only one who doesn’t have one!”“I’ll die if you don’t let me!”

Do not fall into the “happiness trap.”  Be willing to be unpopular, which often means saying “no” when your child is bugging you (or pleading, arguing or having a tantrum) to say “yes.”

Once you’ve said “no,” stick to it.  Don’t falter even if your child acts like you’re “the meanest mom” or “the worst dad in the world.” 

Don’t say “no” if even a little bit of you means, “Well, maybe…”  Children will do anything to try to get parents to turn a “no” into a “yes.” They have an uncanny way of knowing when we’re ambivalent about rules and limits.

Remember that a disappointed child or unhappy child is not an unloved child.

Bribery doesn't work
Don’t bribe unless you want your child to become manipulative.  A bribe almost always starts with “if you…”  Example:  “If you clean your room, I’ll buy that toy you’ve been nagging me about.”

A reward, as opposed to a bribe, is after the fact.  But if you reward children, don’t do it with material things. What children really need is time alone with their parents, and simpler is better — a walk in the snow, a bike ride, going out with you to pick out bagels for breakfast, a trip to the library or to the zoo, etc.

Children also need fewer toys. Instead of buying pricey toys, decide what your family could do for each other. Try making things with them by hand, especially around birthdays or the holidays. You could design cards on the computer, bake cookies, draw pictures or knit a scarf. Or do something nice for family members: recite a favorite poem, read to siblings, or pick out a book at the library. These gifts are much more meaningful because they involve your time and effort. Other suggestions include making mom breakfast in bed, taking over the chores of a sibling for a day, giving a manicure, taking the kids bowling or spending an evening playing games with the whole family.

If your kids are bombarded with toys anyway, help them decide which of their presents they’re willing to give away to kids in a shelter or hospital.  Go with them so they have the experience of giving, not just getting.

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