“I want it now!” “I don’t want to go home!” “I want that toy!” Children live in the here and now and tend to want things immediately. How should we respond when our children demand for things? Do we say no harshly and reprimand them for being ungrateful? Or should we take a step back and dissect the motivation behind their demands?
Here’s how we can respond when our kids demand for things.
Hold your tongue for 20 seconds before responding
The likelihood of us bursting into a lengthy admonishment is high. I have been there, done that with my “angry mum diatribe” aimed at my “spoilt and entitled child”. When we pause and take a moment to respond, we can probably put ourselves in our children’s shoes and remind ourselves they lack the regulation we ought to model. And that the want is probably high since they see the world of little items that might be insignificant to us.
Try to See Their Perspective
Perhaps it’s a coveted toy that everyone has, or more time at the playground, our children has desires just like us. When we see something in store, we might purchase it immediately or without much thought. Impulse buys happen sometimes, this is similar to our kids’ desires which are yearning to be met instantly. One difference is they often do not have the resources nor authority to meet such wants.
It is natural your children want things instantly. Screentime also enforces the cycle of instant gratification, unfortunately. We can help them to correct their mindset of “I get what I want now” by knowing their immaturity still needs guidance and correction.
Help them find their words
If you feel triggered by your child’s demands, whining and tantrums, you are not alone. You can help you child express himself or herself in a clearer and more effective way.
“Hey Buddy, that sounds rude, and you usually won’t get what you want in that tone. Let’s try again”
“Use please, may I in your request”
“Let’s practise asking politely and respectfully.”
“You can say – I would like to have the chocolates. May I have them please?”
“I don’t like the way you asked for it. I am inclined to say no.”
“Your request is declined; I will have to say no because it is dinner time.”
Practise Delayed Gratification
Instead of granting requests on demand, teach your child to wait. You also can decline their requests to help them learn that we can’t have everything we want. For instance, if they ask for dessert before a meal, teach them to finish their meal well first before dessert. If they want more playground time, acknowledge their request and tell them that they can have more playground time on another day.
Rather than whip out the screen at mealtimes, encourage them to feed themselves and learn to enjoy a meal without being entertained. Turning on the screen especially during mealtimes should be discouraged as it promotes an instant gratification and an unhealthy habit.
The words “wait”, “let’s be patient” should be used from a young age so that kids would learn that there are rhythms in life to adhere to.
Get your child to work towards goals
If your child’s goal is to work towards a new gadget, a new book or even a treat, help your child work towards that goal. Parents and caregivers do not always have to be the ones providing the nice-to-haves. Encourage your child to save up or “earn” their prize. Potty training or desirable behaviour can be rewarded in that manner. Kill two birds with one stone by nurturing good habits and helping your child to learn the value of meeting goals.
Say No to the Now
Parents – you have the power to discourage demands by saying no to “nows”. Rather than indulge your child, teach them the value of waiting, patience and hard work.