WHEN YOUR KID WANTS MORE STUFF
With the holidays rapidly approaching, many parents are confronted again with their children’s endless requests for new gifts. We want to give our children what makes them happy; we don’t want them to feel left out or teased because their boots, phone, or brand name hoody are not the latest trend. At the same time, we want to raise children who are going to work hard to create what they want in the world. So, the question becomes “How do we raise children that feel deserving instead of feeling entitled?”
Here are a few tips to raise deserving kids:
1. Possessions should not replace emotional thirst. Too often, some parents buy things for their children because they feel guilty for not spending enough quality time with their children. When your child becomes demanding, it is then time to reassess your priorities. Ask yourself what you can do with your child to simply enjoy time with her. How can you modify your schedule so that you can spend time reconnecting with your child?
2. Empower your child to create her own abundance. If your child does want something that is not in your plan, then let her know and show some empathy by saying “No, we are not getting that today. I know it is hard on you and I am sorry about that.” If you child keeps insisting, then collaborate with her to find a solution. You may want to say “We can put this on your birthday list. If you want it sooner, you can earn money to buy it. How about doing an odd job that would allow you to buy what you want?” When you interact this way with your child, she feels empowered and learns that through hard work she can get what she wishes. The pursuit of a goal is a reward in itself.
3. Help your child wire her brain for a different type of reward. Show your child what emotional rewards are. For instance, a child who has a passion (e.g. basketball, cooking, writing, music) can practice, and it will build resilience. Then, her brain will be wired to find fulfillment in a different kind of reward that lasts. Material possessions are not satisfying in the long term, and often lead to crave more.
4. Live the values you wish to pass on to your child. What matters to you the most in life? The people you love? Volunteering to help others? Following your passions and contributing to the world? If your attitude in life is to give back and to be grateful for what you already have, your child will follow in your footsteps. Your child needs to hear explicitly and to see you demonstrate the most, what matters to you.
As a parent, if we focus on emotional fulfillment instead of instant material acquisition, then our children will learn the values of emotional connection and contribution to the world.
As a parent and a therapist, I want to offer some tips on how to raise happy and healthy kids. Please feel free to comment on my posts.