Too many parents are "rescuing" their children from situations, preventing kids from experiencing real-world consequences - and the result is spoiled kids, according to family therapist Hal Runkel.
Children's actions need immediate consequences, not warnings about what will happen if they repeat the behaviour, Mr Runkel, the author of several parenting books, told Business Insider.
"When we give them the impression that their choices don't have natural, logical consequences and we rescue them from those - when we say, 'Hey, you do that one more time, I'm going to take that thing away,' and then we don't take that thing away, that's actually what spoils kids," he said.
The therapist gave two specific examples.
In the first scenario, your child uses a toy to hit their sibling. If you say to your child, "do that again and I will take the toy away," that's spoiling them, he said. Parents should immediately remove the toy - that's the consequence of their action.
"What spoils kids is not letting them taste the natural consequences of their mistakes," he said.
Mr Runkel offered a second example of giving children clear consequences - waking them up for school. Kids should be setting their own alarms as soon as they are old enough, and taking responsibility for getting up for school themselves.
"The world is not going to allow them to continue to depend on us forever. Our job is to prepare them for life without us," he told the publication.
In his book, Scream Free Parenting, Mr Runkel argues parents should learn to "unburden" themselves from the responsibility of controlling their child's behaviour and instead control their own.
"We are the only ones we can control. We cannot control our kids - we cannot control the behaviour of any other human being. And yet, so many 'experts' keep giving us more tools ['techniques'] to help us try to do just that," he writes.