Experiencing disappointment builds character

Q: My father thinks I give in too much to my 10-year-old son, such as changing my schedule just to take him on an outing as promised. He says I should let my son learn to face disappointment. What should I do?

A: Your father is concerned about your son and wishes to impart good values to him. As to whether your child has been overly indulged, here are some signs that he could be:

He is unable to take no for an answer and throws tantrums to get his way.

He has not been disciplined since young and is used to getting things his way, and challenges authority figures. He disregards school rules and traffic regulations, for example.

He takes things for granted, expects others to give in to him all the time and is unable to handle failure or defeats graciously.

When something goes wrong, he refuses to take responsibility and blames his failure on others. For example, he may blame you for not waking him up on time when he is late for school.

He does not understand the value of money and spends beyond his means.

He appears to have a low emotional quotient, lacks social skills and team spirit. He is also unable to manage his emotions and temper.

Your father's advice can be valuable and you can certainly take it into consideration. However, developing and disciplining a child is essentially the responsibility of both parents.

Speak with your spouse to re-evaluate your child's behaviour and attitude.

In the meantime, your son needs to learn that experiencing disappointment is part of life. This will help to develop his character and resilience.

Whenever he is upset about his requests being turned down, gently explain why this has to be so. Then seek an alternative action plan which both of you can agree on.

Mrs Chan-Lai Fung Ling, who answered this question, is senior counsellor at Touch Family Services, an affiliate of Touch Community Services.

Got a parenting query? E-mail stlife@sph.com.sg with the header Parenting 101.

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