DON'T USE THEM AS STATUS SYMBOLS
Be honest. Is another reason you give your children all the latest toys, and designer clothes because you're using them as a way to show off what a good parent you are - or how much you can afford? If so, restrain your spending, so the message that material things are important doesn't rub off on them.
MAKE KIDS EARN IT
A treat is something that should be earned, says child behaviour specialist Noel Janis-Norton of the New Learning Centre in London. "If you give treats to children all the time, they won't thank you," he says. "Instead, they'll take it for granted and want something new the next day." Noel says children should earn privileges, because they will respect things more when they have to work for them - and appreciate them more when they are given.
EXPLAIN HOW IT'S GOING TO CHANGE
Half-hearted attempts to un-spoil children won't work. You have to work at it - and make sure your partner is on the same wavelength as kids are expert at playing parents off against each other. Noel recommends drawing a line in the sand with children if you feel it's all gone too far. Choose a quiet, unstressed time and explain to your child that money does not come easily and fun things need to be earned. Listen carefully to your child's questions and try to answer them. Afterwards, buckle yourself in for a few tantrums, but stick to your guns.
DON'T TALK UP TREATS
When you take kids on outings or holidays, are you constantly talking them up and raising their expectations? Noel says: "Parents often talk things up and say how fun it's going to be. With such high expectations, the child then thinks, 'Well this isn't as much fun as they said', and say they are bored, infuriating the parents." Instead, Noel recommends telling them ahead of time: "You may like it or you may not."
DON'T FALL FOR 'IT'S NOT FAIR'
Don't let your child bribe you with claims that it's not fair when you don't give them what they want.
Noel says: "Children don't really understand the concept of fairness. What they really mean is, 'I don't like what you're saying', or, 'I thought I'd be getting something that you're not going to give me'. "Many of our children are among the most privileged in the western world, and that's not really fair, either, is it?"
GADGETS WON'T MAKE KIDS CLEVER
Many parents shower kids with the latest educational toys, gadgets, and puzzles because they think it will make them cleverer at school. But Noel says: "What will really make your child smart is not possessions, but the amount of time you spend talking to and explaining the world to them."
RESIST PESTER POWER
Many mums and dads buy kids new things because they think they'll get left out at school if they don't have all the latest fads. If you really think they might suffer, first make sure it's something you want them to have - and tell them they can still earn it with extra jobs around the house or saving up their allowance.
GIVE CONSEQUENCES, NOT REWARDS
It's fine to give something special for something that a child does for the first time or makes a special effort over. But don't dole out treats for the things kids should be doing anyway - like being polite or tidying their rooms. You'll find yourself giving treats all the time if you do, and they'll take them even more for granted. If your child demands to know what's in it for them all the time, analyse when they are demanding the most treats. Then break the cycle by explaining there's a new rule and the consequences if they break it, not the reward if they observe it.
Many mums know the embarrassment of watching kids opening present after present at birthdays and Christmases and barely looking up to say thank you before moving on to the next gift. So, at a quiet time, explain to your child that there will be a rule that gifts will be spaced out throughout the year. Set limits by asking friends and relatives to give just one gift on special occasions - and thendonating any extra gifts of money to your child's savings account.
GIVE TIME, NOT GIFTS
"There's a corny expression that children spell love T.I.M.E - and it's true," says Noel. "It doesn't have to be a lot of "It doesn't have to be a lot of time, but you do need to let children know it's going to be regular - and you're making a choice to spend it with them." As kids start to feel better about themselves, Noel says you should also start to find that their behaviour becomes less and less demanding.
DON'T BECOME A SERVANT TO YOUR KIDS
"It's amazing how much parents mistake doing everything for their children out of love," says Noel. But if kids behave like they're the centre of the universe, they'll get a shock when they grow up and find they're not. So don't become a servant on call. Remember, they'll never learn empathy, responsibility or confidence in their own abilities if you always wait on them hand and foot.
ENCOURAGE CHARITY AND VOLUNTARY WORK
Teach kids that it's not just receiving that makes them feel good. Giving is rewarding, too.
Take your child along to help with voluntary work at a charity to show them others are not as lucky as they are - and ask them donate clothes and other items they no longer want to charity shops.