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Overindulgence & Teaching Responsibility. Facilitated by Lori Zierl Pierce County UW-Extension Family Living Agent. What Is Overindulgence?. Giving children too much, too soon, too long Giving things or experiences that are not appropriate for their age, interests and talents

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Overindulgence&Teaching Responsibility

Facilitated by Lori Zierl

Pierce County UW-Extension

Family Living Agent

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What Is Overindulgence?

  • Giving children too much, too soon, too long

  • Giving things or experiences that are not appropriate for their age, interests and talents

  • Giving things to children to meet the adult’s needs, not the child’s needs

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What Is Overindulgence? (Continued)

  • Giving a disproportionate amount of family resources to one or more children

  • Children experience scarcity in the midst of plenty

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What Is Overindulgence? (Continued)

  • Overindulgence is doing or having so much of something that it does active harm or at least stagnates and deprives that person of achieving their full potential

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What Is Overindulgence? (Continued)

  • Overindulgence is a form of child neglect

  • It hinders children from doing their developmental tasks, and from learning necessary life lessons

    (How Much is Enough? by Clarke, Dawson & Bredehoft)

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Are You Overindulgent?

  • Do you suspect that you might be overindulging your children?

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  • Undercuts self-discipline

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Clues to Overindulgence

  • Hinders child from learning tasks that support development and learning

  • Gives disproportionate amount of family resources to one or more of the children

  • Benefits adult more than child

  • Child’s behavior potentially harm others, society, or the planet in some way

    (How Much is Enough? by Clarke, Dawson & Bredehoft)

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Hazards of Overindulgence

  • Trouble learning delayed gratification

  • Trouble giving up being the center of attention

  • Trouble becoming competent in:

    • Everyday skills

    • Self-care skills

    • Skill of relating to others

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Hazards of Overindulgence (continued)

  • Trouble taking personal responsibility

  • Trouble developing a sense of personal identity

  • Trouble knowing what is enough

  • Trouble knowing what is normal for other people

    (How Much is Enough? by Clarke, Dawson & Bredehoft)

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What is Enough?

  • Too Little

  • Enough

  • Abundance

  • Too Much

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Who Overindulged?

  • Both parents 43%

  • Mom 42%

  • Dad 11%

  • Grandmother 4%

    (How Much is Enough? by Clarke, Dawson & Bredehoft)

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How Were Children Overindulged?

  • 53% Having things done for child

  • 41% Clothes

  • 36% Privileges

  • 35% Toys

  • 32% Allowed to dominate family

  • 32% Not having to learn skills that were expected of other children

    (How Much is Enough? by Clarke, Dawson & Bredehoft)

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Reasons Parents Overindulged

  • 49% Issues stemming from the parent

  • 18% Death of a loved one

  • 15% Illness

  • 10% Birth order

    (How Much is Enough? by Clarke, Dawson & Bredehoft)

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Areas of Overindulgence

  • Too many things

  • Over-nurturing

  • Soft structure

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Too Many Things

  • Clothes 41%

  • Toys 35%

  • Lessons 22%

  • Entertainment 18%

  • Holidays 17%

    (How Much is Enough? by Clarke, Dawson & Bredehoft)

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Too Many Clothes

  • “I’ve got nothing to wear.”

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Too Many Toys

  • Children’s play is children’s work

  • Are today’s toys merely preparing children to become consumers?

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Too Many Activities

  • “Many families are over-scheduled outside the family and under-scheduled inside the family.”

    (The Intentional Family by William Doherty)

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What is Nurturing?

  • All the ways we provide for the soft needs’ love, touch, warmth, attention, support, stimulation, recognition and response

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Over-nurtured Adults Say…

  • Parents did things for me that I should have done myself

  • Parents gave me too much attention

  • I was allowed lots of privileges

  • Parents made sure I was entertained

    (How Much is Enough? by Clarke, Dawson & Bredehoft)

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Too Much Over-nurturing

  • Nurturing becomes overindulgence when it involves doing things for children they are able to do, and should be expected to do, for themselves

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  • When parents over-function for a child able to function for herself, the child tends to under-function

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What is Structure?

  • Structure is the firm side, the “how to” of care

  • It’s the bones

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Overindulged Adults Say…

  • Parents did not expect me to do chores

  • Not expected to learn same skills as other children

  • Parent’s didn’t have rules or make me follow the

  • Parents gave me too much freedom

    (How Much is Enough? by Clarke, Dawson & Bredehoft)

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Too Soft Structure

  • No rules

  • Not enforcing the rules

  • No chores

  • Too much freedom

  • Allowed to dominate the family

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Why is Soft Structure a Form of Overindulgence?

  • Children fail to learn important life skills

  • They do not learn how to set and respect boundaries

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What is Firm Structure?

  • Reasonable rules that are consistently enforced

  • Mastery of skills

  • Learning family values

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How to Establish Structure

  • Set limits, boundaries, and standards with rules

  • Enforce the rules with rewards for compliance and discomforting consequences for noncompliance

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What is a Rule?

  • “A principle or standard to which an action conforms.”

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  • The expectation that a child will do chores lets a child know that he is valued as a contributing member of the family

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Too Much Freedom

  • Scary for an inexperienced child

  • Expects children to handle people and situations without having learned how to do so safely or responsibly

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Good Freedom

  • Allows children to explore or experiment within the bounds of safety and their abilities

  • Allows for learning important lessons from experience

  • Allows for creativity without destruction

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How to Develop Responsibility in Children

  • Be a responsible person (role model)

  • Communicate expectations clearly

  • Allow children to be involved

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Developing Responsibility(Continued)

  • Offer encouragement, love, and attention

  • Let children know you believe in them

  • Present task in a way that fits your child’s learning styles

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Developing Responsibility(Continued)

  • Responsibility should be age appropriate

  • Allow for consequences

  • Children should not be given an allowance for chores

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Developing Responsibility(Continued)

  • Allow for mistakes and imperfections

  • Set limits and give fewer choices if a child repeatedly fails to fulfill his responsibilities

  • Don’t set your child up to rebel

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  • Resist redoing a task done by a child

  • Divide a task into smaller parts to help a child get it done

  • Parents can encourage a child to do chores by expressing appreciation and encouragement

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  • How Much is Enough? Everything You Need to Know to Steer Clear of Overindulgence and Raise Likeable, Responsible and Respectful Children

    Clarke, Dawson, & Bredehoft, 2004

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  • When Is Enough, Enough?: What You Can Do If You Never Feel Satisfied.

    Meyerson and Ashner, 1996

  • Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child

    John Gottman, 1997

  • Growing Up Again, Parenting Ourselves, Parenting Our Children.

    Clarke and Dawson, 1998

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Lori Zierl, Family Living Agent

UW-Extension Pierce County

Pierce County Office Building

412 West Kinne Street, P.O. Box 69

Ellsworth, WI 54011-0069


University of Wisconsin-Extension, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture and

Wisconsin counties cooperating. UW-Extension provides equal

opportunities in employment and programming, including Title IX and