There is no doubt that children need love; love expressed in words as well as in action. In my article titled ‘Cuddle‘, I share the importance of showing love and affection to our children every day.
Showing love in such a manner has enormous advantages, but it shouldn’t be mistaken for pampering. And I’m not talking as an expert on the subject but more as a Father who dearly loves my boys but is always careful that loving doesn’t turn into pampering.
Loving is great, but pampering can be destructive.
Pampering is the act of indulging or gratifying a desire or need in an excessive manner that it ends up adversely affecting the character, nature or attitude of a person.
The dictionary states that to pamper is to “treat with excessive care and attention.”
At home, it happens when parents allow their children anything they want, especially materialistic allurements where excessive spending of money is used to spoil the child, ultimately letting the child have his/her way.
Pampering a child in this manner, whether legitimate or not, will eventually turn them into adults who are stubborn, snobbish (a person with an exaggerated respect for high social position or wealth who seeks to associate with social superiors and looks down on those regarded as socially inferior), attention seekers & selfish to some extent.
For our family, it started the day our first son Jairus was born. My wife had read in a book about these two methods of feeding the baby – Time-feed & Demand-feed, and how that affects the growth of the child.
In a Time-feed method, we only fed the baby when it was the right time. We would keep a gap of two hours and fed only when the two hours was complete, even if the baby cried hysterically. We would find another way of keeping him engaged and quiet; sometimes, we also allowed him to cry for a little while.
In a demand-feed method, parents would feed the baby whenever the baby demanded it, even if its right after his last feed which is 10 minutes ago.
The book taught us how these two methods program and train the child’s brain and his expectations. In our experience, we’ve seen how children who are put on a demand-feed routine eventually grow up to be very demanding and fussy all the time, and that’s because it is programmed in their mind that if they demand they will get it.
On the other hand, children who are put on time-feed eventually grow up to be less demanding and patient when they want something from their parents. We can testify of how true it is of our boys. Even today our boys are well aware that they will get nothing by demanding and crying, and if they want something specific, they let us know about it. They know that with enough patience and at the right time, they will get it depending on whether it’s useful and affordable. Having said that, a lot of times we do give them small/big surprises which gives them an even bigger thrill.
A demand-feed lifestyle mostly leads to pampering.
As parents, we let our kids have their way in the name of Love and inconvenience, but we often fail to see the negative effects it creates in a child’s brain. So, we have to be utterly careful because the seeds we sow today will blossom into fruits tomorrow.
For the grownups, allow your child to do things he is capable of doing on his own, without extending help & concern. As parents, we find it difficult to see our children struggle at things, and the immediate response is to extend support and make it easy. I suggest that you hold back and observe them from afar, only intervene when needed and when in danger.
Staying away and not helping your child at the slightest hint of struggle will allow them to grow and learn on their own. But if you give in to the temptation, you will make your child dependent on you and deprive them of the numerous opportunities that are crucial for their development.
In doing so, let Love be at the centre, not just hidden somewhere in your heart, but expressed in words and communicated through action.
Children who are loved, and not pampered will eventually grow progressively, independently, and responsibly into well-matured adults.
Isn’t that the goal?