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Are you raising a "chiqueado" or an independent child?

What is chiqueado? The word “chiqueado” in Spanish (at least in Mexico) translates generally to spoiled, pampered or coddled. For the sake of simplicity in this article we’re going to use the English word coddled as the translation.

This article is available on Mighty Families podcast in Spotify where Walt and Haley talk about the repercusions of raising a coddled kid.

The word coddled is used in contexts where parents help their children too much, doing things that they could do for themselves. The kids begin to present as lazy, lacking motivation and autonomy and overly dependent on their parents. Because they’ve never been given the chance to test their limits they don’t feel capable of doing even simple things.

Usually there’s two ways children end up being coddled.

1. Either parents do everything for the child because they don’t feel he/she is capable. OR

2. Parents are not patient with their children in the learning process and prefer to just do everything for them rather than wait through the almost always messy process of the child learning himself.

What should I do if I think my child is being coddled?

Ask an expert. Often we seek council from friends and compare our kids to theirs. Unfortunately this isn’t very helpful since kids all develop at such different rates. Often these comparisons just lead to frustration and unfair judgements on our kids. Teachers are one of the best experts on kids and can give you a clearer picture of how your child is developing. If you’re concerned about a specific developmental milestone asking a pediatrician is another great option.

How can I know when to push my kid? How do I know when they really need a push to be more independent and when I’m asking too much?

Honestly, the word “push” isn’t the best. When it comes to kids development the better word is probably accompany. When does my kid need to be accompanied in a new skill or activity and when do they need to be independent?

First, we recommend that you do a little digging and figure out how often these behaviors are happening in your child. Is it only at home? Does it happen at school? What about at swim practice? etc. When a child is demonstrating behaviors that are indicative of coddling in 3 different areas of his/her life it’s definitely something you want to look into. In these cases there may be something else going on and it’s probably an area that your child really needs to be supported.

We want to cultivate resilience and not fragility.

Sometimes our actions in either pushing our kids too hard or not encouraging them enough in their independence actually lead to fragility instead of strength and resilience over the long haul.

Why on earth do we do this? Here’s a few reasons we see and hear regularly from parents:

  1. I don’t want my kid to suffer what I suffered as a kid.

  2. I don’t have time to teach my kid how to tie their shoes right now. I’ll just do it.

  3. I want my child to be more _________. (I want him/her to be athletic, studious etc.) I want them to be different than how they are naturally.

Coddling is something parents DO not something that children ARE. In other words, this is a behavior that we as parents can change for the benefit of our kids.

For starters we first need to identify what our kids really need in this situation. Do they need to develop a habit or skill? Are they lacking vision for what their life will look like once they can do this?

Second, we need to be consistent. If there’s a new skill or habit that needs to be developed it will take lots and lots and lots of practice. Kids need us to be consistent in our development of them in order for them to build the skills and habits they need.

Third we need to know our kids deeply. We need to know and support the talents and abilities of our kids. This brings insight into which areas they’re going to need extra help in and where we really need to step back and let them shine.

Coddling should be an every now and then indulgence that makes kids feel special and not a state of being in our homes.


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