WHO IS A SPOILT CHILD? by Agnes Tinuola Ifaturoti
Categories: Agnes Tinuola Ifaturoti, Parenting, Discipline, Home, Childrearing.
July 15, 2014
Bringing up children is, as is sometimes said, a hundred times more difficult than bearing them. Any fool can make babies, it is the way they are brought up that distinguishes the children brought up wisely. It is usual these days to find children being brought up in homes and orphanages by house mothers and fathers who are in no way related to them, who are just good people willing to help the unfortunate ones. Whoever brings up a child, the chances that he will be spoilt or otherwise are the same, though other factors such as environment play a great part. The way a child is brought up has an effect on him in later life. The period of early childhood maybe forgotten by some, but consciously or unconsciously, what we enjoyed or suffered during this period is reflected in our social and moral behavior in adulthood.
It is rather painful to over hear somebody say your children are spoilt or for granny or for mother-in-law to make a passing remark about your children behaving badly, but before you feel like setting her on fire, it is advisable to ask yourself whether your children are actually spoilt – “made useless and unsatisfactory” as the Advanced Learners’ Dictionary puts it. Mother-in-law’s idea of a spoilt child may be different from yours, so let us examine hers first, to give her some respect!
Mother- in-law would probably have these reasons for saying they are spoilt:
You give them eggs for breakfast. The Yoruba proverb, “Teach a child to steal by putting eggs in the soup” supports her views. Your child goes to bed at 7p.m. he refuses to play with dirty children. He eats breakfast at 8a.m. He drinks a lot of milk. He eats his piece or pieces of meat with and not after the “eba”, rice or “fufu.” He eats meat with beans. He doesn’t prostrate to greet his aunties, uncles, etc. including complete strangers who are older than him.
If your child does any of these things and anybody says he’s spoilt he will say an emphatic “no” provided these are done in moderation. The sleeping and eating habits mentioned are ways of bringing up children healthy and strong rather than spoiling them. Quite often parents and guardians who condemn children for eating a lot of meat and eggs and drinking a lot of milk do so out of greed or ignorance or both. They relish these “delicacies” giving tiny leftovers to the young ones who need them more than they do.
A child who goes to sleep as late as 11p.m or later, becomes a nuisance to adults. It is a weak argument to say that children can’t sleep if there is noise around. The very child who sleeps at 11pm. and wakes up at 8a.m. will be found asleep between 1p.m. and 4p.m. in the same room with even more noise around. You can’t blame him. He just has to make up for the late night! On the other hand the one who sleeps by 7p.m. and wakens at 6p.m. sleeps for a total of 11 hours as against the other boy’s 12, but surely one is more convenient for the parents than the other!
Now we have proved mother-in-law wrong, who really is a spoilt child? I would say that the key word to being spoilt is indiscipline. Indiscipline rears its head in many ways – giving your children food all the time, no fixed mealtime and bribing them with sweets so much that they have little or no appetite for cooked food. A child who tells lies and gets away with it is definitely a spoilt child, so also is the child who answers back when rebuked by his parents or guardians.
It is not, as people who talk carelessly would say, the children of “rich people” who are spoilt. It is not the financial status of parents that necessarily decide whether they spoilt their children or not. It is the time spent on seeing that child eat and sleep well, keep good company and behave well generally.
Finally, I still find it difficult to believe the proverb which says, “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” I spare the rod and NOT spoil the child.
Agnes Tinuola Ifaturoti is a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She lives in her country home in Ilesa, Osun State, with servants because her six children all live away from home with their children and grandchildren. Her articles were written more than thirty years ago, but continue to be relevant to our contemporary times. This article was published by permission from the author by Sinmisola Ogúnyinka, last daughter of the author.
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