Maren Schmidt: Gimmee! Gimmee!

’Tis the season to be jolly. If only our over-demanding children would stop with the demands for this and that, and this again.

Frustrated? Take the time and try to see the world from your child’s point of view. You might see that some of the following situations reinforce whiny requests.

Too many commercials. Lots of money is spent on advertising to our under sixes, and even more so around the holidays. Cut down on commercials and you’ll see a decline on the phrase, “ I want …”

Rewarding behavior with a toy or treat. Do you bribe your child into compliance? Be aware of how many times you offer a material favor to get your child to change behavior. Think about how that feeds the gimmees.

Instant gratification. Teach your child to wait and learn to delay gratification, a little bit at a time. For example, if he or she asks for a snack, don’t drop everything you are doing to get a snack. Say, “Let’s finish folding the laundry, then we’ll get a snack.” Learning to wait helps children learn to be careful about their requests.

Too many gifts. Does your child get a gift every time grandparents visit or every time a parent goes on a business trip? Too many aunts or uncles? Ask the adults in your child’s life to cut back on the gift giving.

Shopping trips. Taking our children shopping can bring out an outbreak of the “wannas.” Try to avoid shopping trips if possible. If you can’t, bring along a favorite book or toy for your child to hold.

Try to understand that everything is new and exciting for your child. Sometimes “I want” only means “I want to know what that is, what you do with it, what if feels like.” Curiosity can at times be sated with a word or explanation.

During shopping excursions, offer your child some decisions. “Do you want green apples or red ones?”

Or perhaps make a wish. Simply respond to a request with “Let’s put that on your birthday wish list.” Perhaps you can keep a list in your purse to add to immediately and with a flourish.

Say what you mean and mean what you say. No means no. Don’t give into a tantrum. If your child is prone to tantrums be prepared to leave your shopping trip and go home. You will probably only have to do this once in your life. My grown daughters remembered the one and only time we had to leave a store. Being taken home without our groceries, as they told me recently, was “a great listening and learning moment.”

When your child suffers from a bad case of the gimmees, remember to try to see it from his or her point of view and then redirect behavior by changing the situation and changing expectations. In this way you can help your child learn that life has limits.

We can’t always get what we want. But if we learn to wait and think, we can learn to understand what we truly need.

Kids Talk TM deals with childhood development issues. Maren Schmidt founded a Montessori school and holds a Masters of Education from Loyola College in Maryland. She has more than 25 years experience working with children and holds teaching credentials from the Association Montessori Internationale. She is author of “Building Cathedrals Not Walls: Essays for Parents and Teachers.” Contact her at maren@kidstalknews.com or visit www.MarenSchmidt.com. Copyright 2009.

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