Parents make a mistake when they pamper in the name of love. Pampering creates weakness because children develop the belief that others should do everything for them. One of the greatest gifts you can give your children is to allow them to develop the belief, "I am capable." Children feel capable when they learn that they can survive the ups and downs of life.
But first let's define what we mean by "Avoid Pampering." We are NOT talking about love, affection and connection. Giving hugs is not pampering. Giving compliments is not pampering. Validating feelings is not pampering.
Pampering is doing things for our children that they are perfectly capable of doing for themselves. The fact is, our children are born with an innate desire to do things for themselves and begin to express that desire around the age of two. We are all familiar with the toddler who says "Me do it!" Too many parents say, "No, you are too little. Go play." Then when they are older and we ask them to help, we are surprised when they say, "No. I'm playing."
Parents often do things for their children for expediency. They may be in a hurry or they are afraid their children will not do it "right" or perfectly. That is why it is important to "take time for training." This means showing them how and then letting them practice. Do things "with" young children until they are old enough and practiced enough to graduate to doing things by themselves. It will still often take longer and not be perfect, but remember we are striving for long-term results. We need to give our children opportunities to become responsible, capable young people.
A good way to think about this concept is to ask yourself, "Would I do this for an adult friend?" If the answer is "No", then it is probably best to allow your child to experience the responsibility of doing it themselves. But remember that the feeling behind what you do is just as important as what you do. Avoiding Pampering is not an opportunity to shame or blame your child. This is an opportunity to kindly but firmly allow them to develop the skills they will need to survive in this world. So don't get angry if your child wants you to do something for them. Be positive and supportive and show faith in them to accomplish the task or solve the problem.
Examples of Pampering:
- Doing the dishes even though your child has that on their list of jobs for the day.
- Making your child's bed because you like the bed to be made each morning, but don't want your child to suffer through making it themselves.
- Making a separate dinner for a picky eater.
- Driving to school becuase your child forgot their lunch. (If it becomes a habit. Everyone forgets things occasionally.)
- Allowing your child to play video games all day because you don't want to deal with the tantrum when you ask them to stick to the agreement on screen time.