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I want I want!
By Lisa Sewards
The Daily Mail
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How do you cope with a child who has everything - except manners? As a BBC series finds out, Lisa Sewards meets the mothers who confess they have spoilt their children rotten.

A new BBC programme, Spoilt Kids, looks at the relationship of parents with their particularly demanding children.

The families are then observed by a behavioural expert, who analyses the problems and advises the parents on how to deal with their offspring.

Kid's Tears

Tears on the Bus

Computer sales expert Kate McElroy, 32, lives with her four-year-old daughter, Alice, in west London. Kate says:

As a single parent who works full-time, I felt guilty that I wasn't giving Alice as much time as I could, leaving her with the child-minder. So when she started having tantrums to get her own way, I'd often give in. But her behaviour deteriorated to the point where she was in control of me, rather than the other way round.

I did everything for her - from getting her dressed, to tidying up her toys and even putting an empty juice carton in the bin when she handed it to me. I felt I was being a loving parent and meeting her needs when, in fact, it left Alice feeling that she was in charge.

She'd scream at me in private and in public. Once we were sitting on the bus and she pointed at me and shouted, 'Don't you touch my hair.' I was so embarrassed. My worst moment was when the bus driver stopped the bus and said, 'Get the child off the bus.' He refused to drive on and in the end we had to get off. I felt dreadful and it made me become isolated. I started avoiding shops, restaurants and even going on holiday with her.

I had started to come home early from work to spend more time with Alice, but her behaviour led me to ask, 'Why do I bother?' So I'd carry on working, then come home for an hour before her bedtime and put her to bed.

Then the BBC put me in touch with the New Learning Centre, who taught me not to be her slave and to be her boss. Now I refuse to do things unless she asks nicely, and I'm getting her to do more things for herself. I no longer feel guilty that I'm a single parent - she's a lucky kid. Now, when she whines, I put on music and ignore her, and when she's being nice I give her lots of attention.

I've also learned to control her materialistic demands. On Christmas Day, for instance, she ripped open a mountain of presents, then demanded more. But, for her birthday, I made sure she opened one present a week, and then only after she'd earned it by getting herself dressed or not being rude to me, for example. She played with every present properly and appreciated it.

Now I'm really proud of her improvement and I feel back in control.

Noël Janis-Norton is director of London's New Learning Centre, which runs courses and workshops for parents, as well as private sessions for children with minor to major problems.
She says:

Alice was born an intense, sensitive child who makes a fuss about everything. Her mother, understandably, was poleaxed by this difficult baby. She met all of her demands and in doing so made a rod for her own back. When Alice was not having a tantrum she was demanding, loud, always interrupting and contradicting. She was like a teenager.

We taught Kate a range of strategies on how to deal with bad behaviour. These included making sure to praise Alice when an instruction was carried through, and talking through potential problems before they arose. For example, at bedtime, Kate would discuss getting dressed the next day and ask Alice what she would do if, say, her zip became stuck - and remind her that she should ask for help rather than cry.

It does work - after seven sessions Alice was a different child.

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