“Mommy, Daddy -- Can I Have It?”
The best planned shopping trips can suddenly fall apart into tears and tantrums, but a little forward thinking can prevent momentary disappointments from ruining an entire day. Here’s how to prevent your holiday bubble from bursting over your children’s exuberant cries of “Mommy, Daddy, I want that!”
- Put yourself in their shoes. Of course kids want the delightful things they see advertised on television and winking through enticing store windows! Brilliant minds have spent months creating products, colorful packaging, and advertising to ensure a chorus of cries of, “I want that!”
What to do: Try to understand and reflect what your child is feeling. “Wow! That looks like fun!” and “You wish you could have them both! It’s so hard to choose.”
- Remind yourself that having to make choices is not a tragedy. It’s absolutely built into the nature of life. Today your child has to decide between a new book and a new doll; soon it will be choices about dating and careers. Your children can’t have it all – and that’s truly all right.
What to do: Present the reality. Together, identify some choices.
- Stay positive. It’s normal and healthy for children to want things that attract them. In fact, desire is a component of ambition. So the goal is not to squelch that happy, healthy desire; it’s to empower children by teaching them to make good choices about what to go after.
It’s also normal for kids to feel anger over not getting what they want. Accept their frustration with neutrality, rather than punishing them for it.
What to do: Try to stay calm if your child explodes with frustration. Stormy emotions have to blow on through, and that’s okay, too. By accepting your child’s feelings, you demonstrate that emotions are not bad or dangerous; they’re just facts of life.
Each time you help your children work through their emotions rather than criticizing them, they feel understood and, as a result, are able to grow as people. Inconvenient as these moments can be for parents, they ultimately stand out for children as powerful experiences of love.