Attachment studies have spoiled the spoiling theory. Researchers Dr.’s Bell and Ainsworth studied two sets of parents and their children. Group A were attachment-parented babies. These babies were securely attached, the products of responsive parenting. Group B babies were parented in a more restrained way, with a set schedule and given a less intuitive and nurturing response to their cues. All these babies were tracked for at least one year. Which group do you think eventually turned out to be the most independent? Group A, the securely attached babies. Researchers who have studied the affects of parenting styles on children’s later outcome have concluded, to put it simply, that the spoiling theory is utter nonsense. Pick them up quickly and they’ll get down quickly. A child must go through a stage of healthy dependence in order to later become securely independent.
Spoiling does become an issue a few years from now, when overindulgence signals a parent’s inability to set limits and boundaries. This happens most often in children who are materially bonded or whose parents are still trapped in dysfunctional patterns from their own childhood.