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Avoid Overindulging Your Kids

Discussing overindulgence with your co-parent is important to your child's long-term success.

Overindulgence. It’s a term that can be hard to define, as it has different meanings for different people. Research cited in a Psychology Today article found that overindulgence in parenting can occur in one, two, or three ways simultaneously: 
  1. Too much (toys, clothes, privileges, entertainment, sports, camps, etc.) 
  2. Over nurture (over-loving, giving too much attention, doing things for children that they should be doing for themselves, etc.) 
  3. Soft structure (not requiring chores, not having rules, not enforcing rules you do have, or not expecting children to learn skills, etc.) 
Some of the long-term impacts of parents overindulging their children include the need for immediate gratification, poor self-control, overspending, overeating, a lack of interest in personal growth, and having difficulty not being the center of attention.  
 

Co-parents should discuss boundaries for their kids 

Overindulgence can have long-term effects on children. Setting healthy boundaries when it comes to your child’s behavior, the foods they eat, the entertainment they consume, and more is crucial. It’s important for you and your co-parent to set these limits together so there is consistency in both households. Here are some key topics you should discuss: 
  • Treats. What kind of treats are normally allowed? How often? Is anything off limits? Do some treats (like certain foods or toys) need permission from both parents? Letting your kids eat whatever they want (whenever they want) and get whatever they want (whenever they want) are both forms of overindulgence.  
  • Expectations. Which behaviors are expected of your kids, and which are grounds for special recognition? For example, if your child gets a good grade on an important test, do you reward them with extra allowance money or is this an expectation? Rewarding your children for things that are expected of them is also a form of overindulgence.  
  • Rules. What responsibilities does your child have around the house? How much screen time is allowed? What is your child’s bedtime or curfew? Not setting rules for your kids is a form of overindulgence as well.  
You and your co-parent should also discuss holidays and birthdays. Overindulgence is more common on special occasions, so it’s important to come to an agreement on guidelines or allowances during certain times of year. 

Avoiding overindulgence takes work and communication from both parents  

Clearly defining rules and expectations with your co-parent can help prevent either of you from spoiling your child. Conflict is more likely to arise if children have different boundaries in each home. 
You and your co-parent can keep track of guidelines like this through TalkingParents. The Info Library tool is a great place to securely store and share information with your co-parent in one, easy-to-access place.  

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