Did you know that children ARE BORN with the qualities we wish to see in them as they grow up? Spoiling a child is about ruining his natural tendencies, not about buying him that new toy.
No, I am not saying that the new toy discussion is not valid, but I am saying that it is one of the minor parental worries. How not to spoil a child? The answer is at the very bottom of this article, but if you just scroll through, you might not get it.
Personal Qualities Determine Survival
Humberto Maturana, one of my favorite philosophers and researches, is a biologist who spent the majority of his life researching the biology of love, connection, and cooperation between human beings. One of Maturana’s first assumptions was that human beings are born trusting; otherwise surviving the experience of complete dependence and the lack of ability to aid the self that all newborns face in the first months of their lives, would be impossible.
Not knowing we would be taken care of will remove the drive to survive in no time.
Survival is our most active and most influential instinct, no matter how modern we think we are. So, when I use the words “spoil a child” I mean it as in spoiling milk or meat by living it out of its natural environment (AKA – the fridge): diminishing or destroying its characters and qualities.
Are We Born Perfect?
No, because perfection is unattainable; but we are born with all the qualities that help us become active and appreciated individuals in society, the qualities that make us likable to those around us and help us to connect to those around us.
Because otherwise, we will not survive.
Belonging, affection, communication, inclusion, mutuality, nurturing, meaning and support are all components of the NEED for connection which is an existential need, just like food and water – and this was scientifically proven (comment below if you want some research links).
Since being a part of a group is a NEED we all share, because we NEED to know that we belong and we are protected, we must obtain the qualities that will allow us to be just that – valued individuals.
Which Qualities Are We Born With?
We are born TRUSTING; otherwise, we wouldn’t have the drive to survive
We are born CONFIDENT in our abilities; otherwise, we would never develop.
We are born COURAGEOUS; otherwise, we would never take that first step.
We are born CREATIVE; otherwise, we would never try to create.
We are born CURIOUS; otherwise, we would never learn.
We are born COOPERATIVE, CONTRIBUTIVE, CONSIDERATE, and COMPASSIONATE because, without those qualities, we can not be a valued, and thus celebrated and protected part of society. And without being such – we would not survive.
We are born POSITIVE and HOPEFUL; otherwise, the first dark moment would hinder our survival.
And How About Your Child?
Did you notice how sensitive your child is to the well-being of his friends? How worried he is when you are not feeling too well?
Did you notice his natural tendency for order, even though it is his own order?
Did you notice how imaginative your child is, and how everything quickly turns into the most fantastic story?
Did you ever notice how enthusiastic he is about something new that he wishes to learn?
Did you notice how PRESENT your child is, how he concentrates on the task at hand?
Did you notice how expressive your child is and how eager he is to share his truth?
Did you notice how shameless and fearless he is about his mistakes?
Did you notice how unconditional your child’s love is?
Did you notice how eager he is for your smile? For your kind words, and your warm embrace?
So How Does One Spoil A Child?
Modernity teaches parents that all of the above are qualities that have to be taught; that parents are the ones who need to be actively teaching these qualities. It is, however, the other way around.
Children are born with these qualities, it is us, adults, that spoil these qualities with our “adult learning.”
We Turn Attentiveness to Neglect
You see, children are born attentive to their physical needs, but we insist they are cold when they say that they aren’t, and we insist that they eat more even though they’ve said they had enough. This is how we teach children to neglect their inner voices.
We Turn Sensitivity to Indifference
Children are born sensitive to others, but we insist they show love, care, and connection to those they are not connected to, and at times that don’t suit them, and we teach them to not listen to their hearts.
We Turn Order into Chaos
Children are born with their need for order, but we insist on teaching them the systems to our order, and we make it into a must. This is how we teach them to neglect their natural sense of order and turn it into a fight.
We Turn Curiosity into Disinterest
Children are born eager to learn and improve in a variety of fields, but we insist on the areas and the subjects they should pursue, and we extinguish their inner fire. We tell them how, when, what, and why they should learn until learning becomes something extremely undesirable.
We Turn Mindfulness into Dullness
Children are born with the astonishing ability to be present with emotions, needs, interests, and affections, but for us, it is never the right time, the right mood, or the right topic. So we send them away, upon their emotions, and we teach them that their feelings are only worthy of our love when we find these emotions pleasant.
We Turn Self-Expression into Silence
Children are born NEEDING the truth, needing the authentic self-expression, and they follow these needs. But only until we tell them that their truth is not worthy of sharing.
We Turn Courage and Resilience into Shame and Fear
Children are born with the incredible ability to move on from their mistakes and use their mistakes as tools for growth, learning, and improvement. But we use their mistakes to shame, guilt and fear them about unlikely consequences. This is how we teach kids that sometimes they shouldn’t even try.
We Turn Unconditional Love into Conditional and Dependent
Children are born unconditionally loving; they love us on our best days as much as they love us on our worst days. They love us when we show them love, and they love us when we disconnect. Children’s love is the epitome of unconditional love, and it is us, upon our “adult knowledge,” who disconnect, judge, label, and teach kids that unconditional love doesn’t really exist.
We spoil children when we don’t let them talk, we spoil children when we don’t listen. We spoil children when we insist that we are the ones teaching them, rather than being humble and letting them teach us.
Don’t we all want to see the world and to live life through the eyes and the heart of a child? Don’t we wish to unlearn at least some of these painful lessons that we’ve learned? I know we do; most of us do. So why is it that we talk so much, and listen so little?
How To Not Spoil A Child?
It is actually straightforward: let the child be. From his very first day. Be there to support him through his life, but remember the journey is his, it isn’t yours. And listen. Listen ALL THE TIME. Each word matters.
Teach him to recognize what he really needs, and he will not feel the need to scream for what he wants. Because those kids who feel seen, heard, accepted, and celebrated for who they are don’t need much more than that.
Want to talk about it? Join my parenting support group on Facebook, I’d love to meet you 🙂