This is a guest post from my friend Ashley at Wide Open Wallet. Make sure to check out her blog!
I have an interesting little situation brewing. My son is getting spoiled. Well not “getting” spoiled. He is spoiled. In general I do pretty well at not buying the kids something every time we go to the store. I say “No” about 99% of the time. But recently I’ve been slipping with my son.
I’ve been picking up little things for him when we are out. A teddy bear here, a coloring book there, I didn’t think much of it. But apparently my son thinks it’s a new habit. We went to Wal-mart yesterday and he just went around the store picking out things he would like. A Backyardigans DVD, a Curious George T-shirt, a Mickey Mouse balloon, all shot down by mean ole’ mom. But it really came to a head when he picked out a pack of strawberry flavored Mentos and put them up by the cash register. When we went to leave my son was just stunned that he wasn’t getting his candy. We had quite the scene. I was glad we were near the door.
While he got over quickly and was being his normal silly self by the time the sun was shining on us, I can see how easily parents fall into their trap. It’s so easy to think, “Well, it’s only 50 cents and it’s not worth the fit he’s going to throw. I’ll just get them.” You are being manipulated! Obviously, my son wasn’t that upset. It was less than a minute of screaming. I know what you’re thinking. “But my kid will scream all the way home.” I believe you. I really do. My kid can throw some monster fits when he gets going. But if you’re serious about breaking this habit there are a couple of things you can do.
Before you go into the store, let them know they will not be getting a toy. This works wonders on my daughter. If she knows what to expect ahead of time she behaves a lot better. Then when they pick something up, gently remind them that they won’t be getting anything today. If you are there to buy them something specific then let them know that. “We are here to get you one pair of shoes and nothing else.” Then stick to it.
Ignore their fits. Just simply ignore them. This is the hard part, but it’s also the important part. Don’t feel bad that they are crying over not getting the impulse buy of their choice. Think about where this fit throwing is headed, right now they are screaming over a pack of Pokemon cards, in 10 years it’s going to be over a car. Where are you going to draw the line? If you need some motivation in this department read Do your kids a favor by saying no over at Remodeling this Life. She wrote a great post about what happens when you don’t say no.
Be consistent. Consistency is key. Every time you give in you are giving your kids power. If they think the fit throwing is going to work even one out of 10 times then they will keep doing it. They need to know that it’s not going work… ever! If this means you have to plan your trips so you can go alone then do it. Toys R Us probably isn’t a good idea right now. That doesn’t mean that you will never be able to buy your kids something without a plan. Someday you will, and when that day comes your kids will actually appreciate it! You will be giving to them out of love, rather than fear. Won’t that be a great day!