Saying no to your child is hard. They often don’t respond well and before you know it your are trying to diffuse a full on melt down in the supermarket. Surely it’d just be easier to just say yes. Of course…but not in the long term. We really don’t want to raise entitled children who expect anything and everything they ask for. Not only would this get very expensive but it’s also doing them a disservice as parents to hand them everything on a plate.
Here area few ways we can encourage children to value what they have and not continually ask for more.
Five way to avoid raising spoilt children
1) Plan Ahead
To avoid confrontations, try hard to predict when children will want stuff you’re not prepared to give them. Maybe the store you’re visiting has a toy section and so you prepare children before you go in. Explain what you are going into the store for. I tell my girls we can look at the toys but we won’t be buying any. Because they know this beforehand, they rarely ask.
Another trick I use is, when they really like something, I ask them to take a photo of it on my phone and add it to their wish list for the next occasion, normally birthday or Christmas. This often seems to satisfy them. In my opinion, toy shopping should be saved for special occasions and not just because the shop you happen to go in has a toy section.
2) Value of Money
Talking about money is a great way to help children understand why they can’t have everything they want. In a very simple way, you can explain where the money for your household comes from and what that money gets spent on. Tell children that we have to choose carefully what we want to spend our money on.
Hand Wash or Ice-Cream
Recently the girls decided to empty a brand new hand wash down the drain. Mummy was not impressed. I really don’t think they understood why I was cross. I told them that now we have got to spend more money to buy a new one and so we can’t spend that money on something we want. Next time the ice cream van appeared, I told them they couldn’t have one as I needed to spend the money on a new hand wash. Surprisingly they didn’t argue and I think my point was made.
3) Reassess your Perspective
Even if you can afford to spoil your children, think before you buy expensive treats. As parents, we need to be teaching our children to put value on experiences and time together over materialistic stuff. This is something they pick up on from you. If you always want what others have, it’s not surprising they will too. They learn from what they see.
4) Model Gratitude
Instead let’s show children what we already have and encourage gratitude. By saying thank you regularly and telling children when you think they are being thoughtful or considerate, they’ll associate being helpful with appreciation. From a young age, children can understand the concept of family and we need to show them how we can all work together as a team to get stuff done. Even a two year old can start to do some simple age appropriate chores. See HERE for 18 Preschool Chores that most children can do.
When children do receive gifts, gestures or someone has done something thoughtful for them, ensure they take the time to be thankful. Not only on receipt but multiple times after. For example, when they play with a toy they’ve been given, they can be reminded how kind it was that someone bought it for them.
5) Healthy Choices
We shouldn’t only say no for financial reason but also to help them make healthy choices. As early as possible, we need to teach children about moderation. Maybe not using that word but explaining that our body needs a whole selection of foods to be healthy and so we can’t always have sweet or salty options. Every day at 3pm we have quiet time and the girls choose a snack. They can have anything from the snack selection but it must be different from the day before. This way they get to make their own choice but it limits them.
At mealtime, they are almost always offered vegetables or salad and we’ve talked about how we need to eat the rainbow. Instead of expecting them to eat everything, I ask them to choose a few different colours to eat. They know they can’t just eat the carbs but that their body needs different foods to keep it healthy.
Saying no can often feel harsh and doesn’t come naturally when we want to give our children the world. But at end of the day, I’m trying to raise my daughters to place appropriate value on stuff and also realise that although they are the centre of our universe, they aren’t entitled to just get given everything they want. I often talk to my girls about children who have far less and we do our bit for charity so they see how fortunate they are.
I’d love to know your thoughts on raising spoilt children.