Spoiling’s Effect on Emotional Development

A few years ago, I heard a story from my aunt regarding her small grandson.  In this story, she explained that on one visit to her house, the child wouldn’t leave until he was given two dollars.  Although the mother and my aunt initially said no, the child continued to demand two dollars.  As I recall, eventually the child had a tantrum, whined, and wouldn’t leave the house until he had the money.  After some time, my aunt gave in and decided to give the flailing child two dollars, and with the money, he happily left.  The child, now eight, still exhibits a pushy, hard to deal with attitude I know came from too much giving in.

When my family heard this, my parents went into a near rant.  They told us how bad this example of giving in to tantrums was and how harmful this spoiling effect is on both the parent and child.  As we discussed in class, this point was reiterated, as we determined that it is essential to emotional development to have the child learn how to not get what he/she wants and make it through the tantrum.  But, if the parent is always there to “rescue” the child from their fits, they will never “see the other side” of the tantrums, and like OCD symptoms, the tantrums will get worse over time.

For the sake of examining an emotionally underdeveloped child due to spoiling, may we consider fictional character Dudley from the Harry Potter series (although we all know real life people just like Dudley).  Dudley always got what he wanted- from getting over 40 birthday presents to constantly bossing his parents (and Harry) around.  Throughout the series, it is interesting to see Dudley’s reaction when he gets in trouble- he always calls for his mommy and does no emotional problem solving himself, and compared to Harry, it is simple to see who is emotionally healthier.  It is also interesting to note that throughout the series, as I am aware, Dudley never has a ton of friends and a girlfriend is never heard of.

When doing some research on this topic, I came across an article titled “Spoiled Children: Prevention.”  In the article, a few bullet points are made that describe spoiled children.  Notice how some of them so accurately describe my  relative and Dudley: “Doesn’t know the difference between his needs and wants, makes unfair or excessive demands on others, has a low tolerance of frustration, and frequently whines or throws tantrums.”  In describing the cause of spoiling, the article also explains how parents of spoiled children let the children have the power, which in turn makes them self-centered, which can lead to a varitey of emotional and relationship problems.  It also describes how the parents “rescue the child from normal frustrations,” exaclty what we talked about in class in relation to tantrums.

Judging from the the two instances and the article above, we can clearly see how spoiling’s effect stifles the growth of children emotionally.  So, when your child asks for a pony, realize that giving them emotional development by getting through a tantrum will be much better for them than any pony will ever be.

Mike Angerbauer

Sources:

Harry Potter series, Rowling.

AboutKids Health: http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/HealthAZ/Spoiled-Children-Prevention.aspx?articleID=8808&categoryID=

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~ by Mike Angerbauer on October 14, 2009.

One Response to “Spoiling’s Effect on Emotional Development”

  1. I hate Dudley! Yes spoiling is the issue there, I suspect some part of the child crying for the two dollars was because they learned they could get their way. I believe the mistake there was when your aunt gave in and gave the child the money. It is a difficult situation, on one hand you want to quiet the child and on the other you dont want to give in. Unfortunately, life will soon present a situation where the child will not get their way, and they will have to deal with that somehow on their own.
    Jennifer Poulos

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