Start by assigning household chores on a regular basis.
I'm a career woman with a 7-year-old daughter who is so spoiled and demanding that she
irritates me with everything she does. She's an only child, brought up with plenty of love
and not scolded much. Her dad loves her to distraction and caters to her every whim. Most
mornings she goes to school late because she insists on choosing her own clothes and arguing with
me over her choices. This is only the tip of the iceberg: she constantly answers me back,
disrespects adults, and throws a crying tantrum when I try to discipline her. Friends and colleagues at
work have warned me that a spoiled child can turn into an out-of-control adolescent.
How do we balance love and discipline? Doubtless, this is the greatest challenge for parents.
What purpose is served by discipline? First of all, human beings are not born knowing the
difference between right and wrong. It has to be learned by constant repetition and reinforcement;
hence, the necessity of discipline. What kind of behavior should be disciplined? Despite liberal
trends, I believe that parents are doing their children a disservice by not teaching them to obey and
respect their parents, other adults, and teachers; and by failing to teach them to take responsibility
for their actions.
Parents should set an example by being consistent about demanding obedience and respect. Methods of
discipline training need to be humane and consistent, meted out at the time of offense (not later),
and agreed upon and supported by both parents in a unified front. No undermining or coddling by one
parent to the detriment of the other's authority and respect!
The idea that discipline will crush your child's spirit, stifle creativity, shrink personality, or
thwart expression is ridiculous. Do not overcompensate for the often brutal disciplining you may
have received at the hand of your misguided parents from an earlier tradition, time, or place.
There are ways to encourage your child's free choice, while drawing the line on behavior that is
unacceptable or out of bounds.
For example, your seven year old is at the right age to have a voice in selecting her own clothes.
However, sometimes a little creativity on your part can go a long way toward avoiding or short-circuiting
habitual trouble spots. Instead of autocratically choosing for her, why not give her the chance to chose
her clothes the night before? It's important to know what battles to fight, and not get worn down waging
war on every front. Further, such a solution encourages responsibility in your daughter, while not thwarting
her unnecessarily. This in turn builds trust-both in her judgment, and in her relationship with you,
which can be generalized to other adults.
To encourage children to develop a sense of responsibility, suggest an allowance for doing household
chores, and rewards for keeping to a homework schedule. Grade school kids can learn to pick up their
toys, hang up and put away clothes, clean their own room, empty garbage, and feed pets. High school
students can be involved with house cleaning, doing the wash, helping with shopping, doing the dishes,
mowing the lawn, watering plants, etc.
Parents should make it a rule never to do anything for their child that they are capable of doing for
themselves, especially if it will improve their character. Without making them feel guilty, show them
the sacrifices you make for them regularly, and they will appreciate taking greater responsibility.
By releasing yourself from the entire burden, you empower your kids with independence and a sense of