Is your child spoilt?

Worried your toddler’s overindulged? It’s never too late to change if you follow our parenting dos and don’ts


DO give clear boundaries

“Your toddler needs simple rules to follow,” says Alison Scott-Wright, Tinies baby and childcare expert. “Without these he won’t understand what good behaviour is. If he’s never told it’s not OK to demand whatever he wants when he wants it, he won’t know he shouldn’t do it.”


Rules need to include what areas you want to be tough on; for example, teaching respect and patience, and what issues you’re willing to be more lenient on, such as tidying up toys after use.

Ask lots of questions when you visit your shortlisted nursery choices, to ensure you pick one your child will be happy at.

DO be consistent

Once you’ve set boundaries, you need to make sure your rules are followed through.

“Everybody needs to be on the same page when it comes to dealing with your toddler’s behaviour,” says Alison. And that even extends to outside influences, such as at nursery.

“You can’t ask your nursery to treat your toddler differently,” says Alison, “but you can find out beforehand what its views on discipline are so you can check they’re similar to your own.”

Ignore, bribery, treats? How do you get round a toddler tantrum?

DON’T give in to bribery

“A child won’t become spoilt because you give him a treat at the supermarket, but he will if he learns he can turn a no-sweets decision into getting what he wants,” says Lynne Ott, parent coach from Raise A Child.

“And if you generally use bribery, you’ll find yourself having to give your toddler something every time you want him to do something, which will cause huge problems later on,” adds Alison.

Rachel Harrow, 35, from Suffolk, mum to Ellie, 4, agrees: “I can get Ellie to do almost everything with the promise of a treat at the end,” she says. “But it’s meant she sometimes refuses to do the most basic things, like brushing her teeth, without a bribe. We’ve decided to go cold turkey and remove the bribes altogether but it’s a slow and hard process.”

Parents use sweet treats as bribes, according to study

DO control treats

“The problem with giving continuous gifts is that it produces continuous wanting,” says Alison.

OK, so your toddler won’t suddenly turn into a spoilt child the moment you give him a present for no reason, but it’s a good idea to try and restrict it. “Remember, your job as a mum is to respond and give in to your toddler’s every need, not every want,” adds Alison.

Try and talk to your toddler rather than just tell him off

DON’T reward negative behaviour

“When your toddler’s being demanding, it’s common to give him lots of attention. By doing this you’re sending the message that tears and tantrums are the way to get your attention,” explains Alison. “And when he’s happily occupying himself, you tend not to give him any attention as he’s doing well without you.”


Make a real effort to praise your toddler when he’s playing nicely. Even something like, “Wow that’s a lovely picture you’re drawing,” will make the world of difference and make him less likely to try to get your attention by displaying demanding behaviour.

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