Permissive Parents: You’re Hurting Your Child


Indulgent Parents Raise Entitled Children

(Correct it NOW!)


Are you, or is someone you know practicing indulgent parenting?  Sometimes called lax parenting, permissive parenting is a type of parenting style characterized by low demands with high responsiveness, and inevitably results in a spoiled child.


The result of permissive parenting is a spoiled child.


Permissive parents tend to be very loving, yet provide few guidelines and rules.

These parents do not expect mature behavior from their children and often seem more like a friend than a parental figure.



Permissive Parenting Leads to a Spoiled Child


Permissive parents constantly “rescue” their child from normal frustrations.


Lenient, permissive parenting is the main cause of spoiled children. Permissive parents don’t set limits and they give in to tantrums and whining.

If parents give a child too much power, the child will become more self-centered.

These parents also rescue the child from normal frustrations.

Sometimes a child is cared for by a nanny or baby sitter who spoils the child by providing constant entertainment and by giving in to unrealistic demands.

The reason some parents are too lenient is that they confuse the child’s needs (for example, for feeding) with his wishes (for example, for play). They don’t want to hurt their child’s feelings or hear him cry. They may choose the short-term solution of doing whatever prevents crying which, in the long run, causes more crying.


If parents give a child too much power, the child will become more self-centered.


A child’s ability to cry and fuss deliberately to get his way usually begins at about 5 or 6 months of age. There may be a small epidemic of spoiling in North America because some working parents feel guilty about not having enough time for their children. To make up for this, they spend their free time together trying to avoid the friction that setting limits might cause.


Permissive parents try to avoid the friction caused by setting limits.


The difference between giving children the attention they need and spoiling them can seem unclear. In general, attention is good for children. However, it can become harmful if it is excessive, given at the wrong time, or always given immediately.

Attention from a parent is excessive if it interferes with a child’s learning to do things for himself and deal with life’s frustrations.


Attention from a parent is excessive if it interferes with a child’s learning to do things for himself and deal with life’s frustrations.


Giving attention when you are busy because your child demands it is an example of giving attention at the wrong time. Another example is when a child is throwing a tantrum and needs to be ignored.

If attention is always given immediately, your child won’t learn to wait.



Is Your Child Spoiled?

A spoiled child has a low tolerance for frustration.


A spoiled child is undisciplined, manipulative, and unpleasant to be with much of the time.

He or she behaves in many of the following ways by the time he is 2 or 3 years old:

  • Doesn’t follow rules or cooperate with suggestions.
  • Doesn’t respond to “no,” “stop,” or other commands.
  • Protests everything.
  • Doesn’t know the difference between his needs and his wishes.
  • Insists on having his own way.
  • Makes unfair or excessive demands on others.
  • Doesn’t respect other people’s rights.
  • Tries to control people.
  • Has a low tolerance for frustration.
  • Frequently whines or throws tantrums.
  • Constantly complains about being bored.


Why You Need To Correct Course


Spoiled children run into trouble when they start school.


Without changes in child-rearing, spoiled children run into trouble by the time they reach school age.

Other children don’t like them because they are too bossy and selfish, and adults don’t want to be around them because they are rude and make excessive demands.

Eventually, the poor behavior of spoiled children become hard for even their parents to deal with.


Spoiled children eventually become unhappy.


Because they don’t get along well with other children and adults, spoiled children eventually become unhappy. They may show decreased motivation and perseverance in their school work.


Overall, spoiling a child prepares a child poorly for life in the real world.


There is also an association with increased risk-taking behaviors during adolescence, such as drug abuse.


How to Correct Permissive Parenting


Set Rules and Limits


Provide age-appropriate limits and rules for your child.

Parents have the right and the responsibility to take charge and make rules. Adults must keep their child’s environment safe.


Your child will still love you if you say “no” to him. If your kids like you all the time, you’re not being a good parent.


Age-appropriate discipline must begin by the age of crawling. Hearing “no” occasionally is good for children. Children need external controls until they develop self-control and self-discipline.


Teach and Expect Cooperation


Require cooperation with important rules.


Your child must respond properly to your directions long before he starts school. Important rules include staying in the car seat, not hitting other children, being ready to leave on time in the morning, going to bed on time, and so forth.

These adult decisions are not open to negotiation. Do not give your child a choice when there is none.

Give your child a chance to decide about such things as which cereal to eat, which book to read, which toys to take into the tub, and which clothes to wear. Make sure your child understands the difference between areas in which he has choices and areas in which he does not.


Do not give your child a choice when there is none.


Try to limit your important rules to no more than 10 or 12, and be willing to take a firm stand about these rules. Also, be sure all of your child’s adult caretakers enforce your rules consistently.


Allow Your Child to Be Upset at Times


When crying is part of a tantrum, ignore it.


Expect your child to cry.

Distinguish between your child’s needs and wishes. Needs include relief from pain, hunger, and fear. In these cases, respond to crying immediately. Other crying is harmless and usually relates to your child’s wishes.

Crying is a normal response to change or frustration. When crying is part of a tantrum, ignore it.

There are times when you will have to withhold attention and comforting temporarily to help your child learn something that is important (for example, that he can’t pull on your hair or earrings).

Don’t punish your child for crying, call him a cry-baby, or tell him he shouldn’t cry. Avoid denying him his feelings, but don’t be moved by his crying.

Respond to the extra crying your child does when you are tightening up on the rules by providing extra cuddling and enjoyable activities when he is not crying or having a tantrum.


Don’t Reward Temper Tantrums



Do not allow tantrums to work.

Children throw temper tantrums to get your attention, to wear you down, to get you to change your mind, and to get their own way. Crying is used to change your “no” to a “yes.”


By all means, don’t give in to tantrums.


Tantrums may include whining, complaining, crying, breath-holding, pounding the floor, shouting, or slamming a door. As long as your child stays in one place and is not too disruptive or in a position to harm himself, you can safely ignore him during a tantrum.


Keep Discipline Consistent


Remain consistent, even during fun, quality time.


Don’t overlook discipline during quality time.

Quality time with your child needs to be enjoyable, but also reality-based. Don’t ease up on the rules. If your child misbehaves, remind him of the limits.


Even during fun activities, you need to enforce the rules.


You Are the Parent – It’s Not a Negotiation



Don’t try to negotiate with young children.

Don’t give away your power as a parent. When your child reaches the age of 2 or 3 years, have rules, but don’t talk too much about them.

Toddlers don’t play by the rules. Young children mainly understand action, not words. By age 4 or 5, your child will begin to respond to reason about discipline issues, but he still lacks the judgment necessary to make the rules.

During the elementary school years, show a willingness to discuss the rules. By age 14 to 16, an adolescent can be negotiated with as an adult. You can ask for his input about what limits and consequences are fair (that is, rules become joint decisions).


The more democratic a parent is during a child’s first 2 or 3 years, the more demanding the child tends to become.


In general, young children don’t know what to do with power. Left to their own devices, they usually spoil themselves. If they are testing everything at age 3, it is abnormal and needs help.

If you have given away your power, take it back (that is, set new limits and enforce them). You don’t have to give a reason for every rule. Sometimes it is just because “that’s the rule.”


Don’t Be a Constant Playmate




Teach your child to cope with boredom.

Your job is to provide toys, books, and art supplies. Your child’s job is to use them.




Assuming you talk and play with your child several hours a day, you do not need to be her constant playmate.

Nor do you need to always provide your child with an outside friend.



When you’re busy, expect your child to amuse himself. Even 1-year-olds can keep themselves occupied for 15 minutes at a time. By age 3, most children can entertain themselves about half of the time.

Sending your child off to “find something to do” is doing him a favor. Much good creative play, thinking, and daydreaming come from coping with boredom. Don’t feel that you need to be your child’s social director.


Teach and Expect Patience



Teach your child to wait.

Waiting helps children learn to deal with frustration. All adult work carries some degree of frustration. Delaying immediate gratification is something your child must learn gradually, and it takes practice.

Don’t feel guilty if you have to make your child wait a few minutes now and then (for example, when you are talking with others in person or on the telephone). Waiting doesn’t hurt a child as long as it isn’t excessive. His perseverance and emotional fitness will be improved.


Encourage Problem Solving and Coping Skills



Don’t rescue your child from normal life challenges.

Changes such as moving and starting school are normal life stressors. These are opportunities for learning and problem solving. Always be available and supportive, but don’t help your child with situations he can handle by himself.

Overall, make your child’s life as realistic as he can tolerate for his age, rather than going out of your way to make it as pleasant as possible. His coping skills and self-confidence will benefit.


Don’t Praise Every Little Thing



Don’t overpraise your child.

Children need praise, but it can be overdone. Praise your child for good behavior and following the rules. Encourage him to try new things and work on difficult tasks, but teach him to do things for his own reasons too.

Self-confidence and a sense of accomplishment come from doing and completing things that he is proud of. Praising your child while he is in the process of doing something may cause him to stop at each step, expecting more praise.

Giving your child constant attention can make him praise-dependent and demanding. Avoid the tendency (especially common with the first-born) to overpraise your child’s normal development.


Teach Your Child to Respect You


Teach your child to respect the rights of adults.

A child’s needs for love, food, clothing, safety, and security obviously come first. However, your needs are important too.

Your child’s wishes (for example, for play or an extra bedtime story) should come after your needs are met and as time allows. This is especially important for working parents where family time is limited.


Don’t Spend Every Free Moment With Your Child



Both the quality and quantity of time you spend with your child are important. Quality time is time that is enjoyable, interactive, and focused on your child. Children need some quality time with their parents every day.

But spending every single free moment of your evenings and weekends with your child is not good for your child or for you.  Your child should not be your entire world.  You need a balance to preserve your mental health.



Scheduled nights out with your spouse or friends will not only nurture your adult relationships, but also help you to return to parenting with more to give. Your child needs to learn to accept separations from his parents.

Remember, if she isn’t taught to respect your rights, your child may not learn to respect the rights of other adults.


Video:  4 Steps to Raising a Brat



Recommended Reading



We live in the age of the Entitled Child, and many books have been written about entitlement and entitled children. This is not another one.

Peggy Harper Lee’s book Spoiled, by contrast, is written for and about the parents of an entitled child.

Whether you know you have an entitled child and want to change your relationship, wondering if you have an entitled child and want to learn the signs so you can be sure, or you’ve been warned that your child is in danger of becoming an entitled child, this book is for you!

Throughout this journey of the entitled child, Lee examines what an entitled child looks, sounds and acts like at every stage from infant to adult. She explores the strategies that you as a parent can use to effectively build a new relationship with your entitled child.


Do you think you are raising an entitled child? Find out if you are unintentionally encouraging them to want, want, want all the time.

Entitled children are not born; they are made. In this Modern Parents Guide Gratitude & Kindness, you’ll find out how to enrich your children’s lives by making gratitude and kindness real to them.

Based on the latest in science and psychological research, this book will teach you the practical skills to buffer the effects of entitlement and turn your family around.

• Discover why YOU need to care about gratitude in your family.

• Find out where entitlement comes from and how it is continues to grow.

• Use the Family Change Model to help save your family from entitlement.

• Realize what YOU can do about it right now.

Written by two clinical psychologists in the field of parenting, this guide combines experiences from their clinic with current scientific data.



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