If you're tired of watching your daughter's father contort himself around your little girl's finger, it's time for some tough love to shut the spoiling down. Help him see that overindulging his girl's whims might set her up for failure later in life. Although lax discipline, gifts and treats might make her happy at home, she'll receive a rude awakening once she has to grow up and face the real world.
Have the Big Talk
Getting a dad to stop spoiling his daughter won't happen overnight. Sit him down -- when his daughter is not around -- to have a serious talk about his behavior and its consequences. Maybe this is his first daughter and he’s overwhelmed with love, or maybe she’s so cute and he doesn’t know how to say "no," or maybe he just wants to give her the childhood his parents couldn’t afford. Explain to him that, while his heart is in the right place, spoiling his little girl will ultimately do more harm than good.
Create a Plan
Dad will need concrete rules to stick to when his knees get weak. According to WebMD, kids need consistency to help establish healthy boundaries. Help him come up with a list of guidelines his daughter should adhere to, depending on her age and maturity level. For little ones, rules might include include no dessert without eating your vegetables, or no watching television until she picks up her toys. For older girls, examples might include no playing outside until her chores are completed or not watching television unless her grades are up to par. For teen girls, rules can include no extracurricular activities or working unless her chores are done and her grades are high. After the rules are in place, help dad come up with consistent consequences for breaking his rules.
Dad’s impulse to spoil his daughter isn’t going to just go away, but perhaps he can channel that energy into giving her rewards for good behavior. A 2012 article on ABC.com recommends implementing a system of tasks and rewards, to help kids realize they'll get what they want only after fulfilling certain responsibilities, not just for being cute or whining. Remind dad that the rewards should be age- and task-appropriate -- in other words, a 4-year-old doesn’t get a new tricycle just for making up her bed. Tell him to save the big gifts for birthdays and holidays.
So dad doesn’t have to go from being a softie to Mr. Meanie, teach him to give his daughter choices so she retains the the illusion of control. Rather than say, “Eat your vegetables,” for example, or “Get dressed,” he can say, “Do you want carrots or broccoli?” or “Do you want to put on your blue dress or yellow shorts?”
Dad will need coping skills to deal with the inevitable tantrums, attitudes and silent treatments that will come once his daughter realizes his parenting style has changed. Tell him to remember that his little girl loves him no matter what she says, and she’ll ultimately benefit from his firm new stance. Also, reminds WebMD, dads have to keep cool, especially when they're frustrated, because kids learn how to act by watching their parents.