As parents, we would like our children to appreciate what they already have. Unfortunately, many kids seem to constantly demand more and more. Why do they always ask for new stuff? And how can we best deal with it?
Just a few ideas for you to consider together with some practical tips:
· When your children ask you to buy them things, they are usually trying to fulfil valid emotional needs. For example, they may believe that owning a particular monster-shooting game will make them happy or popular, or that a new shiny pair of shoes will give them confidence. Of course, this does not mean that you should get them whatever they want – but you can help them find alternative ways to feel happy, popular or confident. Knowing there is a need behind their wants will also help you to keep your cool!
· When we reward our children with presents for good behaviour, we unwittingly teach them to associate presents with being loved or being approved of. Once this association is established, our kids are likely to ask us to buy them even more stuff, so that they can experience this warm feeling of approval again. It is much wiser to reward children by noticing and mentioning what they do well, and by spending special fun time with them.
· Advertisers deliberately connect between their products and our emotional needs. They promote the illusion that once our kids own their products, they will instantly become cool. Companies spend a fortune on advertising because it works! The less your children are exposed to advertising in the media, and the more you educate them about the motives of advertisers, the less material demands you will get.
· Educate children about money. Play ‘money’ games with younger kids, and when they are older give them pocket money so that they can learn to save towards a goal. Take your kids shopping with you and model comparing prices and showing restraint! They will learn a lot about money and possessions from observing your own behaviour and attitude.
· Before going shopping with your children, have a preparation conversation. Instead of telling them what they will get and what they will not, ask them leading questions. ‘We are going to the shops tomorrow. What do you think we will get?’ ‘Yes, you would like another game for the DS. Why do you think we are we not going to buy you one?’ Praise any sensible answer and ignore provocations!
· Limit your explanations to the information your children do not already have. Explaining the obvious is called nagging! If you are not sure what your child knows, ask ‘Would you like me to explain to you why we will not buy a new fire engine tomorrow, or do you already know?’
· Give your kids lots of sympathy – after all it is hard for them to see this new and shiny stuff on the shelves and not be tempted. Say: ‘I wish I could buy it for you, wouldn’t it be great if everything in the shops was free?’ or, ‘I know you want it, it can be hard to see things you want and not be able to get them’. Your aim is to show to your children that you understand how they feel, whilst keeping your boundaries at the same time.
· Most importantly- do not give in to pester power! When you give in, you teach your children to harass you even more next time.
Good luck with it, and enjoy your children