Am I Spoiling My 2-Year-Old?

Am I Spoiling My 2-Year-Old?

Mom Jeanine
February 19, 2011


Gifts, Good Question, hot topic, Jeanine Edwards

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When I was pregnant, I fantasized about being a stay at home. I dreamed about all the fun ways I would spend my days with my little girl and all the amazing things we’d do. Well, that didn’t happen. In part because I needed to work for the money, but I also really missed working. After 3 months of maternity leave, it was hard for me to go back to work, but when I eventually got into the groove, I liked being a working mother.

Oddly, though, as my daughter has gotten older–she’s 2–it’s been harder and harder for me to leave her every morning. Just as I’m leaving for work every day she says, “Where are you going?” I explain that I’m going to work and then the “Whys” begin. It eventually ends with her saying “No, stay home and play with me” and me promising to bring her a surprise after work just so I can get out of the door.

Which leads me to my question. I don’t bring her a gift every single day, but I do typically bring some little trinket home for my daughter 3-4 days out of the work week. Whether it’s a new cup or a little stuffed animal or even a bag of chips, she is beginning to ask, “Where’s my surprise?” as soon as I walk in the door. If I don’t happen to have one, she doesn’t throw a huge fit, but I’m wondering if I’m setting a bad pattern. Am I spoiling her?

I have a pretty hippy dippy doctor and she doesn’t believe children can be spoiled, only loved. So I am putting it out there to the rest of you: if you give a 2-year-old gifts almost every day, is he/she bound to be a spoiled brat? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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  • Mnemosyne
    February 19, 2011

  • If you are worried about giving too much “stuff”, you might try making the surprise a special story (or joke if/when she’s old enough). That way she still gets something special just for her that she only gets when you go to work. You can try and make it an interesting thing you saw or did (or pretend you saw or did) while out of the house – it could be real (like a cat you saw) or more of a Dr. Seuss adventure story.

  • Angie
    February 19, 2011

  • That is crazy! Children aren’t born knowing how the world works. It’s our job to teach them. You are teaching yours that because you feel guilty about working, you will ease that guilt by giving her a gift almost every day. You will soon have a child who feels entitled. A little girl in my daughter’s first grade class cries all the time because she doesn’t get picked to be the line leader, or isn’t chosen first for a game or someone else is getting attention. That is originating from home. At home, she is treated like a princess. The real world doesn’t work like that. Children learn by example. Instead of gifts, take her to the park, or do some other activity where the two of you can really connect. It will mean much more to her than any trinket or stuffed animal.

  • Oscarmama
    February 20, 2011

  • Treats do not have to be things. What your daughter (and you) are really craving is special time together to connect. There’s nothing wrong with an occasional trinket or coloring book, but the things she will remember are giggling in a blanket fort with you, playing playdoh, going for a walk to collect cool stuff, baking a box of brownies–There are a million ideas that require little more than you just being present for her for a little while every day.

    Will the gifts spoil her? Kids are never spoiled by love. But I think it will set up some unrealistic expectations of how she will be treated by you and others (daily gifts from future partners? bigger and bigger gifts from you?).

    I can see an age where the toy is more important than your homecoming–not because she’s spoiled, but because that just happens. If you’ve built a tradition of spending time together, you can still coax her into the kitchen with some apple slices and talk of the day. Now imagine what that day would be like if you’ve built that connection on stuff.

  • S.A.M.
    February 21, 2011

  • I felt the same way as you did going back to work. I really like working now, but it is harder to drop my little girl of at daycare every day. I too get way too many gifts (in my opinion) but it’s more like every other week than a few times a day. My reasons are a little different, I need to keep her busy for the circa 45 minutes it takes me to get dinner on the table since my hubby works for longer than I do (I am home around 5:30pm).

    Either way I think we may be setting up expectations that they will get things and I like the suggestions of special time instead. I also have a story book that she has not been able to sit still for, but may be old enough for now (she is 22 months). I am thinking I would start with reading a story to her every day when we get home before we start playtime.