Changing strategy to stop spoiling my kid

by Marilia Di Cesare on October 10, 2012

It´s time I change strategies around my 5-year old. I have to admit to myself that whatever I´m doing in the way I´m parenting, it´s not working to make me an authority  (in the pic you can see her attitude caught on camera when she was 3). I can´t get my daughter to accept sharing my attention with other people, for example.

There are many valid reasons for this to happen: I´m a newbie at taking care of a kid (I only held a baby for the first time when I was pregnant and I simply was never around any kid before), I´m very soft and easy to bend in any relationship (it pisses me off my ability to be submissive), and the strongest one must be the fact that I´m really doing it all by myself (no family nearby, and changing countries twice in five years didn´t help much in the support system department).

So, I do have some excuses to be a lousy, permissive mom, but I´m not going to settle for them. I decided I have a last chance to enhance my influence on this kid right now. I only have 1,5 years till she´s 7, and that´s basically when our influence as parents cease dramatically.

Let me get more specific here. My kid seems much smarter than me when she wants something, like being held. She is so good at bluffing, she knows the right face that will bend me. I caught her a few times doing this: she made this face, I picked her up and then I saw her smiling mischievously behind my shoulder. I even called her on her act and she confirmed what she just did.

She can get my attention so easily. She not only knows how to do it because she is smart, but truth be told, I trained her this way. She is simply used to getting me away from anything to attend her. So, it´s up to me to change this and not blame her for our situation.

I talked to a good friend about this. One that I can ask an opinion that is not to punish my daughter. I specifically asked: ¨What can I do to stop her, that is not punishing her?¨

I asked for an intervention, because sometimes you do need an outside perspective to see what´s going on. It was to a friend, who has 2 single daughters (she had one daughter and after 13 years, she had another one) and thus has know-how in single girls.

She agreed that I had a problem going on, but tough I was a bit desperate thinking that now I have extra work undoing some of the things that I´ve been doing naturally (Shit, do I have to stop being me?), she calmed me down by saying that it´s going to be easier than I think, that my daughter is intelligent enough (what kid isn´t?) to adjust to the change, if I really do change in some details.

The main thing I have to do is to not play a certain situation in the same way every time. You might need to think about mixing up your game too, especially if like me, your game is all about giving what your child wants (and not what she needs, like Jesper Jull talks about in his book Your Competent Child).

It looks like I´ve been using the same old strategy every time (or none, just my natural way that doesn´t work), so my daughter can expect the same behavior coming from me (namely, she knows how far her whining has to go to make me act in the way she wants).

I like to justify myself by saying that I can´t be playful at all times I just need her to do what I need her to do. I´m not the most natural playful parent. So, ok, I won´t become a clown, but I can do it at times, and not be mad and whine myself when she doesn´t do what I expect her to. I can mix that natural reaction of mine with times in which I pretend to not care about what she´s doing to catch my attention and get busy with something else.

More action and less words is what I need. Keep washing the dishes, watering the plants or working instead of dropping anything to see what she wants. It sounds easy, but it takes a lot of focus to do this.

Being firm and sticking to it is one of the most logical parenting advice you can think of, but doing it can be quite hard for me. I hardly realize that I´m putting myself in second place every time, or that I´m spoiling her by not letting her wait enough for me to be ready for her.

If you asked parents of spoiled children what they do to spoil their children, they´d feel offended. No one thinks they are spoiling their children, and yet, many of us are doing exactly that.

Have you ever thought about how you spoil your children and what to do to stop it?

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

ellen mcrobert October 10, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Hi Marilia,

Its nice to see you are sharing valuable questions in raising children. Keep up the great work! Louisa looks like her beautiful self. She must be settling into Brazilian life again. Peace & Love to you both on your journey!


Marilia October 11, 2012 at 5:33 am

Thank you Ellen. Yes, we are settling down again. Luísa comes home from school very happy and singing a lot. It seems to inspire her in her alone play time. Love for you too!


Violeta October 11, 2012 at 5:04 am

I struggled with the same dilemma. Manipulation did not bother me so much, but I was concerned spoiling may lead to entitlement later. Solution for us was to get her a sibling. Oh well, there other reasons to have a second child, but this was a big factor in deciding to go for it.


Marilia October 11, 2012 at 5:32 am

I see how a single child has it´s own chalenges. My daughter is great at playing by herself for some good time, but then, there´s only me around to interact with her and sometimes I´m just too tired for quality time. A sibling is not an option for us, but that´s why I´m always around my friend´s houses.


Merete Kemi Wear October 11, 2012 at 7:06 am

Hey Marilia.
Its really nice to read your blog, I feel slightly exited to be near you guys again after I heard you are training “b-mums” in the project 🙂
I just came back from the health senter takeing a vacine on Célia Lorentse, our soon to be 3 month old daughter, I dont know if its worse for me or her, because hearing her crying is really terrioble for me.
The nurse told me afterwards that its time to make her sleep by herself and also when she is lying on her stomach to make her stay there for a moment after she is getting frustrated and wants to get up. This to give me and Edimar some alonetime at night, she will get used to it if we are consistent, and to make her train her muscles alittle bit more every day, getting ready to get up and walk when that time comes.
What is so diffecult though is to hear her cry, Im very afraid to spoil her, and reading your blog I can see how I would if I dont start to think about this already now.
She is sooo beautiful that I dont know how I would ever be able to say no or dont pay attention, so I would need all the advices and other peoples experiences to help me doing this in the future.
Hope to see you in December

Lots of love Merete


Marilia October 11, 2012 at 8:28 am

Hey Merete, you have no idea how grateful I am for the Projeto das Crianças that you started!

As for babies, there´s so much advice out there, and many really suck, so be careful whith what you follow. I higly reccomend Janet´s blog for babies. Check it out, you´ll find a lot of information on letting babies sleep by themsleves and anything else you might wonder, through a very gentle approach.

Congratulations on having Célia, and I´ll see you in December.


Eugeniya Hilzinger (Health Essentials LLC.) April 3, 2013 at 12:08 am

I hope your children are sleeping better now.
I never left my son crying by himself, especially at night. Animals would not do it, so why people do? Children need to feel secure and protected by their parents, until they’re ready to move on.
There is an easy way to help your children sleep better. First of all, I would do a nice gentle stomach massage, and make sure the child does not have any gas, etc.
Going for a short walk before going to bed would help too.
Another great and easy thing to do is to diffuse high quality therapeutic grade essential oil like Lavender.


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