It started the minute Halloween was over -- magically, mysteriously, instantaneously -- the holiday decorations popped up in stores.
The ads on TV are all about what you need this holiday - everything from canned food to cars. The toys catalogs are being promoted as the ultimate reading material for kids - we wouldn’t want to miss out on the “must-have” stuff of the season.
It’s no wonder most kids are suffering from a bad case of the “gimmes”!
Just the other day, after finishing up a call with a mom of a “wee one”, I stopped by my local supermarket to pick up something to make for dinner. There, sprawled across the aisle in full out meltdown tantrum mode was a kid sobbing, screaming at her mom to buy her something that was on the shelf. Her mother was trying to stay calm and reason with her, coming up with a host of logical reasons why she wasn’t going to buy the item. The kid would have none of it...with each logical explanation her wails got louder and her sobs grew deeper. Finally, the mom put the bottle of beer in the cart and there was peace and quiet in the supermarket - immediately. She looked at me and said sheepishly, “She always wears me down.”
Now, if you have a kid (or two) - you’ve probably been there. Kids who are tired, hungry, frustrated, or a host of other factors have little reserve to draw on when met with something that upsets them (and almost everything upsets them at those times.) If you’ve been shopping -anywhere - you’ve probably experienced the same.
Here’s the thing: YOU CAN’T REASON WITH SOMEONE WHO IS BEING UNREASONABLE. No matter what the age - someone in the throes of a meltdown is not, at that moment, a reasonable person. With a kid, it’s usually best to remove them from that situation. Conversation will only add fuel to the fire. (Like driving through a tunnel - the only way out is to go through.)
There are three things to think about to curb and curtail this I want it all and want it now behavior.
NO MEANS NO. It’s so important for a kid to know this from very early on. If you are going to “give in” - then don’t say no. “I’ll think about it” “maybe” “we’ll talk about it” are some alternatives. Or - just put the item in the cart right away. Children will model their behavior based on what they see their parents and those around them do. If you want your children to have good character and integrity, make sure that's what they see. Your child needs to trust you, to know that you are truthful with them, and you need to be in integrity with your kid.
BUILD RESILIENCE. Resiliency is built on helping your child to handle disappointments. Weathering the small disappointments helps your child to build the resiliency needed to weather the big disappointment. Let your kids know that it’s not the end of the world when they don’t get what they want. Empathize, acknowledge their feelings, but let them know by your actions that all the fit-throwing, foot-stomping, door-slamming, eye-rolling behavior won’t get it for them. I know you work hard to give your kids what they want. But you also have to give them what they need, right? And resilience is something they will carry with them and will serve them throughout their lives.
GRATITUDE. Gratitude is built by helping kids to appreciate what they have instead of what they want. Studies have documented the benefits of practicing gratitude and those benefits are nearly endless. A daily or nightly practice of gratitude can improve happiness, grades, reduce aggression, improve self-esteem, have better relationships. How can you teach your kids to do this? Have a gratitude jar, say prayers at night thanking God for the good in their lives, play the gratitude game, journal are a few ideas.
As with so many other parenting practices, it's simple. And, like so many aspects of parenting, simple does not equal easy. This is not for the faint of heart; not for someone not willing to do the work. There is no magic wand. There will be trial and error. But you can't beat the rewards.
And if you think this is easier said than done or you are someone who is looking for wisdom and support, I'd love to support you. Let's have a conversation. You can email me directly, or schedule a call. We'll look at your goals, challenges, and opportunities you might be missing. We'll also uncover hidden problems that may be sabotaging the desired results. You'll leave the session feeling renewed, re-energized, and inspired to get results faster and easier than you thought possible. And you'll have a plan of action to do just that.
"Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see." ~Neil Postman
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I'm Mary Kerwin and I’ve been a teacher for over 40 years, as well as a mother to four children who are contributing members of society. I understand the struggle of getting this parenting thing “right”. It’s hard to juggle all. the. things while making sure your children have everything they need to live happy, well-adjusted lives.
I help parents to ditch the overwhelm, uncertainty and guilt and become confident leaders for their kids so they can improve the quality of life for themselves and their families and raise kids who are ready not only to navigate this world but to make it better by becoming tomorrow’s leaders.