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Ask Dr. Meg: How Do I Know if I am Spoiling My Daughter?

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Dr. Meg Meeker

Hi. I am the mom of a beautiful 13 month girl. My question is how do I know if I am spoiling my daughter? I know she is only a year old, but I feel that sometimes I am too nice or allowing. she is very attached to me, but also is sometimes hard to feed because she decides that she doesn’t want to eat, for example. Another thing is she often screams when I try to change her diaper and rolls over and refuses to lay still. How do I raise her not to feel like she can just throw a tantrum to get mom to do what she wants?  Thank you.

Dear Great mother-

At 13 months, it’s hard to spoil a child. Your daughter’s behavior seems completely appropriate for her age. Most 13 month old children have times when they don’t want to eat, sit quietly and many make diaper changing very hard!

That said, you might well have a strong-willed child blossoming. I love strong-willed children because they are the ones who grow up to change the world. The challenge for you is going to be with discipline as she gets older. When she is around 18 months- 2 years old, she may start having temper tantrums or exert her independence in other ways. You sound like a very kind mother. But, as your daughter grows into these harder toddler times, you must let her know that in no uncertain terms that you are the boss. She will try to get her way all of the time.

When it comes to allowing her to do things that will harm her, you must make her obey. So, as she grows, you must have a few rules that are non-negotiable. When she breaks those rules after you have told her no, then consequences must follow. I use time-outs for youngsters where they sit in a chair in the corner of the room or in another room for several minutes. The trick is to discipline her for deliberate acts of defiance as she grows- not normal toddler behavior like she’s doing now. In other words, discipline her when she does something like run out into the driveway after you have told her not to or when she says something mean to you that you have told her not to do.

I think that you’re in good shape now, but as I said, you might have your hands full in a few more months.

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