Parenting Tips to Prevent Raising Overindulged Self-Centered Children
Parenting Styles Vary with Each Child
Parenting Children Isn't an Easy Task
Parenting is undoubtedly the most difficult undertaking on the planet. Providing sustenance to and being responsible for little human beings can be a draining task that comes without much instruction.
Moreover, when you're dealing with the personalities, temperaments, likes, and dislikes of these little people, it makes parenting each unique individual child quite a challenge. And as these precious creatures grow and develop, the parenting task becomes even more daunting.
Parenting Style and Development of Personality
It is said that a child's personality is formed by the age of three and fully developed by the age of seven. Depending on which study or theory you ascribe to, the general consensus is that there is truth to this observation. Ask any parent who has dealt with the personality of his young child and he will probably agree that it is indeed a fact.
The personality of your child can make parenting all the more challenging. It certainly prompts educators and researchers to wonder about the effects of parenting styles on the child's behavior and formation of that personality, particularly the formation of the self-centered personality that blooms in adulthood.
The Overindulgent Parent and the Self-Centered Child
The focus of this article is to explore the parenting style of the overindulgent parent and the factors that contribute to the development of the narcissistic, self-centered child.
The purpose is to provide parents with information to help them determine if their parenting style is contributing negatively to behaviors and attitudes in their children that could lead to self-centered personality traits.
The goal is the prevent parents from raising children in a home environment that may produce unhealthy, self-centered adults in the future.
Research is presented with implications indicating that overindulged children grow up to become adults with traits consistent with materialism, unhappiness, and self-centeredness.
What is an Overindulgent Parent?
According to researcher David Bredehoft, an overindulgent parent tends to provide their children with every need and want out of unconditional love for the child.
They place no limit on supplying the child's wishes, nor do they place limits on the child. They are permissive about setting boundaries and believe it is good for the child to have free reign of choices and be able to make decisions.
Overindulgent parents often give their children too much, too early, creating children who later become self-centered with a sense of entitlement. They truly love their children unconditionally and may be driven by their own unresolved feelings of neglect and impoverishment.
Hence, their parenting philosophies may be driven by a need to vicariously live through the child's happiness, provided at all costs, fulfilling their own unmet needs.
The Charming Face of a Child
Four Main Parenting Styles
There are four main parenting styles that represent the various ways in which parents rear and interact with their children.
These interactions encompass philosophies of nurturing behaviors, communication, discipline, and degree of autonomy that influence a child's overall development and personality.
- Authoritative - Balanced parenting
- Authoritarian - Strict Parenting
- Indulgent - Lenient parenting
- Neglectful - Uninvolved parenting
See the chart for detailed descriptions of parenting style and the child's response to each type.
It provides a framework within which no one parent precisely falls, as the factors are fluid.
The Parenting Style of the Overindulgent Parent
The behaviors and attitudes of the overindulgent parent include:
- Lack of limit-setting and boundaries on the child's behavior and autonomy
- Lack of balance between discipline and praise
- Inability to say "no" and mean "no" (the "nag factor" - Jill Rigby)
- Belief that the child should not lack for anything
- Lack of adherence to rules and assignment of responsibilities in the home
- High tolerance for back-talk, verbal challenges, and disrespectful behavior in the name of building assertiveness and independence
Effects of the Overindulgent Parent on the Child
Parents Can Have More Than One Style of Parenting
Most parents overlap from one to the other. The overindulgent parent mainly falls between the Indulgent and Neglectful parenting styles.
Four Parenting Styles and the Impacts on the Child
Description of Parent
Impact on the Child
understand how their children feel and respond to them; warm and nurturing; communicative with their children; democratic; sets standards, monitors limits; places demands and expectations on the child; punishment is measured, consistent, and explained to the child; encourages independence but places controls on the child's actions
ideally healthy, emotionally stable
restrictive and punitive; high expectations of conformity and compliance to rules; little open dialogue between parent and child; expects a lot from the child without clear definitions of limits or boundaries; not very responsive to the child
less social competencies; more likely to be insecure and display anti-social behavior; varies with culture
very involved with their children but place very few controls or demands on them; permissive and non-directive yet nurturing and accepting; very responsive to child's needs and wishes; do not place controls on child's inappropriate behavior
children tend to be more impulsive but emotionally secure; grow up to be more independent and mature quickly; may engage in substance use and misconduct as teens
low in warmth and attentiveness to their children; disengaged and low in responsiveness; dismissive of child's emotions and opinions; emotionally unsupportive but provide basic needs of sustenance; do not set limits or controls nor do they set clear boundaries on behavior
overly mature and independent; socially withdrawn
Precious Children are Easy to Overindulge
Research: Overindulgence and Adult Attitudes
In a 2010 study by Mary R. Slinger and David Bredehoft, the relationship between childhood overindulgence and adult attitudes and behavior was explored.
Based on questionnaires using psychological scale measures, the researchers looked at whether or not overindulged children were more likely to become adults who are materialistic, unhappy, unable to delay gratification, and less grateful than other adults.
They found the following with implications:
- Overindulged participants in the study were more likely to hold values that were congruent with materialism in terms of defining success and happiness
- Overindulged participants were less likely to delay gratification
- Overindulged participants were less likely to embrace gratefulness, and subsequently
- Overindulged participants were less happy than those participants who were not overindulged.
Beloved Children are Easy to Spoil
Our Society Breeds Overindulgence and Self-Absorption
Jill Rigby, a leader and expert in the field, states that overindulgent parenting is a result of the self-absorbed society in which we live.
Parents are raising children whose immediate wants and materialistic needs are met with no balance in teaching compassion, love, patience, and responsibility.
In my experience in family counseling and parenting issues, overindulgence is also a way to compensate for benign neglect of children who are left to parent themselves.
The demands of shift work and overtime hours cause parents to shower their children with material things to make up for being absent. They will forgo the enforcement of discipline and end up overcompensating for their lack of hands-on parenting. The children soon learn to get what they want as they play on the parent's guilt.
Good Parenting is Consistent
Be Aware of Your Overindulgent Tendencies
Are you an overindulgent parent?
Tips for Avoiding Overindulgent Parenting
- Be aware of any unresolved issues you may be addressing through the parenting of your children
- Realize that discipline and limit-setting are forms of love; children see that you care about what happens to them when you enforce boundaries to keep them safe
- Learn to say "no" and mean it by placing limits on yourself with firmness and follow-through
- Limit your catering to your child's every whim and want
- Lower your tolerance level for disrespectful behavior
- Take back control of your household by re-establishing your authority
- Establish consistency in your parenting by starting early with your child
- Teach your children values that encompass compassion, empathy, and gratefulness
Janis Leslie Evans, M.Ed., N.C.C., L.P.C., 2013 All Rights Reserved
Parents Who Overindulge Are Protecting Their Children
Tantrums Make Parenting Difficult
From Self-Centeredness to Compassionate People
Parenting is difficult enough as you make your best efforts to provide your children with basic needs. The manner in which you provide these needs is determined by your parenting style philosophy.
Parenting style ultimately contributes to the development of your child as a person. It is vitally important for parents to increase their awareness of parenting styles and the impact it has on raising a healthy, stable child.
Research shows that overindulgent parenting has a tendency to produce self-centered adults with unhealthy attitudes about how they relate to the world.
The future of our world will benefit less from self-centeredness and more from a display of empathy and compassion for humanity as a whole.
Sources - Parenting Style and Personality
- Parenting styles - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Evidence Of Character Formed By Three Years Of Age
Newspaper article on research into the formation of character which appears set by age 3.
- Our Personality Is Fully Developed By the Age of 7
Our Personality Is Fully Developed By the Age of 7
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
This article has me in tears. What are some tips/advice on the process of correcting the behavior of self-centered children?
It will take time with no easy tips or advice. The fact that you read this article and it elicited emotion means you can be inspired to make changes. Be gentle with yourself and know it is a process. Put your child's emotional health first. Consider some counseling sessions where you can invest in yourself and address your specific situation. Thank you so much for reading. I appreciate your question and wish you well.Helpful 2
When is too late to reverse overindulgent parenting?
That's a broad question. It depends on the age of the child and if the indulgence has already molded the child's behavior. However, one should never completely give up hope to make changes for the better. It's never too late to try.Helpful 5
© 2013 Janis Leslie Evans