Krisanna Jeffery
Registered Clinical Counselor, B.S.W, M.Ed


Fear of Spoiling Children-A Confusing Issue for New Parents 

New parents often wonder…“Is it possible to spoil my child?”  Definitely yes! We can spoil them by making them more insecure, anxious, inhibited, and emotionally repressed. This has been accomplished in many children of our culture. How do we do it? Well, it starts in early infancy. 

Since the time of Dr Spock, parents were taught to not always answer their child’s cry for comfort, for fear of spoiling them. Many parents (now grandparents) took this advice very seriously. They didn’t realize, that how we respond to their cues for comforting, will influence how they feel about themselves and relate to other people in their future. Parents were led to believe that continual comforting could be spoiling. But there is a vast difference that begs to be recognized. 

According to pediatrician, Dr.Meriam Rossi, research has shown that how consistently you comfort your baby when sick, upset, or hurt, especially in the first year, is extremely important. By responding to your child’s cues for comfort with acceptance and loving gestures, your child will soon learn to calm and comfort itself. (the payoff!) 

On the other hand, consistently making light of a child’s discomfort, (big boys don’t cry) (don’t be a cry baby), trying to distract a crying   baby with food, or getting annoyed, can be eventually interpreted as rejection. Eventually, the child learns to keep their feelings to themselves, fearing ridicule, teasing, or upsetting the parent. They can also learn such troublesome core beliefs such as “I am not worthy of Love”, “The world is not a safe place”  

Inconsistent acceptance of feelings by parents, makes it difficult for some individuals to develop close, loving relationships later because unconsciously, they don’t feel worthy of love. As we all know, boys particularly have been discouraged from crying and feeling, even as infants. We have very intense cultural conditioning around boys and feelings. This does not help them become loving, caring, or stable men. 

But both sexes can develop many undesirable defense mechanisms to reduce the likelihood of rejection in their lives when solid attachment has not taken place.  Perhaps you know someone like this.  

A child who gets rejected for having uncomfortable feelings, has to work very hard to get their parents attention. They can become very demanding. Some demanding children have been “spoiled”, not necessarily through over indulgence but often through lack of adequate comforting. They have not been helped to feel secure in the world and worthy of love. 

I know that most parents want to be the best parent they can be. So don’t be afraid to comfort your baby anytime, regardless of the criticism you might get.  It’s a safe rule to say that loving and accepting your child won’t spoil them, but not comforting them consistently when they ask for it, probably will. 

Let’s support parents who are creating a more loving society. Because we could sure use it!



For more information, please contact Krisanna Jeffery
1348 Gabriola Dr. Parksville, BC
Canada V9P 2X8

Tel (250) 951-2299 between 9-5 Pacific
fax (250) 947-9920 anytime

Copyright 2003     Krisanna Jeffery