by Christina Fox
It began with just a toy from the dollar section of our local super store. Then, I started buying him little cars when we went shopping. When we traveled out of town, I bought him new toys to keep him entertained.
And now? Well, every time we go to the store, he asks me to buy something. When I say no, it’s not a pretty response. You too? I’m glad I’m not alone in this. Many parents engage in battle with their children over the issue of buying them a toy from every trip to the store.
I realized something recently that got me thinking. When we are at the grocery store checkout lane, my son never asks for candy. Why? It’s because I’ve never once bought him candy from the checkout line. I can’t blame for him expecting a toy when we go to any store that sells toys. I’ve trained him to expect it. Now, I have to untrain him.
Are you trying to stop the begging tantrums too? Here are a few of the strategies we are using at our house:
- Have set buying days. While most of the time, I will not buy my son a toy, there are times when I do have the extra money to do so. Before we head to the store, I inform him whether or not is it is a “buying day” or not. When he asks to look at the toy aisle, I say, “It’s only a looking day, not a buying day.”
- Start a wish list. If my son sees something that he likes, I tell him that we will add it to his birthday/Christmas wish list. Delayed gratification is an important life lesson and this helps him develop that.
- Teach compassion. We are all naturally self-centered and children are no exception. It’s important to expose our children to what life is like for other children around the world. Most children around the world do not have the same advantages and experiences that our children do here. Our family sponsors a boy in Africa. Learning about his life and what it is like for him to live in poverty has opened my children’s eyes to the world outside themselves. To drive this home, one day, we went around the house exploring to find out how many balls and sports equipment we own. Then, we made a ball out of recycled materials the way a child in Africa often does. Kicking around a ball made out of shopping bags helped my kids see just how blessed they really are.
- Stick to it. As with any change, it will take time for your preschooler to get used to the idea that he/she won’t get a new toy at their next visit to the store. Expect resistance from your child. Perhaps you’ll need to shorten your shopping trips for a short time. Be clear before you enter the store what they can expect from you. And never give in.
My son is doing much better with begging for items at the store. The other day, he saw a Lego set he was interested in. Without me saying anything, he said, “Mommy, can you add this to my wish list?”
Now, if only I could train myself to walk into a shoe store without buying anything…