THE BLOG
01/27/2016 02:28 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Demanding Child

Does your child demand unceasingly more and more material goods and activities and time with you?

Does it seem like he or she criticizes everything you do without realizing the effect on you?

Has this been going on for weeks, months, or even years and you don't understand how it happened or what to do about it?

There are often two reasons that this may have occurred both of which can be remedied with a great deal of effort and time but it's worth it if you want back your empathic, kind, resilient child.

The Over-Indulged Child

Sometimes parents felt neglected as children and try and make it up with their own children. Or, parents have the resources and energy to try their best to be "perfect" parents. The result is that they over-indulge their children from a young age with constantly planning activities and sometimes buying toys without limits.

These children get used to their world being arranged that way and don't know others don't have or expect what they have. When the parents begin to get exhausted and also realize their child overly expects constant plans and goods, they try to lessen what they are giving and the child complains excessively.

The child knows no other world or parents and thus doesn't understand the shift. They just feel like they aren't getting what they are used to. It's time for parents to have many sit-downs with their child and explain now that they are getting older, they need to learn to play by themselves sometimes and that toys for older children are more expensive.

In sum, the parents begin to set boundaries, rules, and limits and the child will protest perhaps for a long time because it's not what they've had years of experiencing. Parents must persist as the child tests them to see if they mean what they say.

This is when the criticizing of the parents begins extensively.

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The parents may hear, "I hate you. You don't understand. You don't want me anymore. You are a bad parent." This is of course very hard to hear, but it must be withstood for as long as necessary without bursting into vigorous arguments. Simply repeat briefly your limits and say no more. Do not argue even when your child persists on criticizing.

If this is too difficult, seek professional guidance where the parents and child are supported in the change of boundaries, rules, and limits. In time, things will normalize but it is a huge effort.

Antagonistic Parents

When parents aren't getting along and may be heading for a divorce or are divorced already, children may see a lot of vitriolic scenes. This leads to fears of loss of love and security and thus a demanding child.

This time the child is demanding things because he doesn't know how to demand the love he seeks.

Marital, parental, or couple counseling is sorely needed to reduce and remove the outward antagonism that the child is being affected by. When the tension is reduced, the demandingness of the child will be reduced as well.

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Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. is a psychoanalyst with a recent book that offers an approach that will help parents of demanding children, Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child's Behavior, found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Familius and wherever books are found.