April 21, 2018

Nurturing vs. Spoiling

Research is clear that it is imperative that infants receive nurture, warm touch, comfort, calm words, face time/eye contact and the constant meeting of all of their physical and emotional needs.  And we know that the second year of the attachment phase brings on the need to set limits.  The complete attachment process includes both, nurture and limits.  And, these are the same needs they continue to have as they get older……

I often hear people confuse nurture for “spoiling”.  As a quick side note, I want to say I hate the word “spoiling”, however, this is the word our society is accustomed to, so I will use it here.  We feel like if we nurture too much, then we will are in danger of “spoiling” our child.  It is important to distinguish between nurturing and “spoiling”, as they are two very different things.  We can nurture  without “spoiling”.  And unfortunately I have seen many kids, you might consider “spoiled” who have had very little nurture.

So, what is the difference?

Nurturing activities include:

  • Meeting needs
  • Time spent together doing something you both enjoy
  • Introducing them to something you enjoy
  • Doing something that is of special interest to them
  • Engaging in nurturing touch, massage, hugs, and just holding hands (often for dads, this includes playful, physical wrestling)
  • Verbal affirmations, noticing who they are, highlighting their strengths and protecting their weaknesses
  • Laughing together
  • Playing games that include touch, eye  contact, showing your protective strength
  • Setting limits and helping them calm and learn to accept the word “no”
  • Becoming attuned to them, learning how they feel loved and then engaging in those activities


  • Giving in to their demands when they are whining or having a “fit”
  • Giving them gifts rather than time and attention
  • Not setting appropriate limits and allowing them to hear “no”

You see, our children need all of their needs met.  They need to be loved and heard and taught and delighted in….  And they need us to have firm limits.  They need to learn delayed gratification, etc.  They need to be able to hear and accept a “no”.  We can nurture, nurture, nurture and at the same time comfort and walk with them through the limits, consequences and hard things that come.  Nurturing them and setting limits greatly ups the odds that they will not become that “spoiled” child that you don’t want them to be.


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