This could be one of the most frustrating aspects of parenting. The part where all we hear as parents is “Can I have that.” ” I want one.” Plllleeease, Mom can I get that?” It doesn’t matter if you have one child or 5, you have heard those words, or some variation. Heather here, from FamilyVolley.com, and today I want to give you a few suggestions to help you with teaching our children to be happy with what they have.
And in turn, cut down on the “gimmies.” (As our friends The Berenstein Bears say. By the way, if you have your own little cub that has a bad case of the “galloping-greedy-gimmies,” this book is for you).
First, we have to cut our kids a little slack. They are constantly surrounded by media messages, consumer messages that tell them they MUST have things. Lots of things if they want to be happy and popular. The latest shoes and clothes and vacations and toys, and cell phone. They have to look a certain way, do their hair a certain way and act just like the “cool kids.”Or so the commercials tell us.
So how do we help our children stop wanting the newest tech gadget (when they already have a perfectly good “gadget”), and stop throwing fits in SuperTarget when they don’t get the action figure they “must have”, and instead, appreciate what they have?
Here are 8 Tips for Teaching our children to be happy with what they have.
1. Teach them about their True Worth.
Our children need to understand that who they are is not defined by the clothes they wear or the phone they carry. It comes from within, how they treat others, their honesty and integrity… For them to understand, we have to be careful about how we compliment and the conversations we have. Are we always telling them they “look cute” in their new clothes, but never compliment their hard work, kindness to others, and integrity? Help them see what they are really worth and be sure it is not tied to material possessions.
2. Teach them Where Happiness Really Comes From.
…And it is not from acquiring more “stuff.” “Stuff” is a hollow attempt to be happy. Spend time together as a family. Love one another, and serve others. Teach your children about true happiness and they worry less about seeking it out through more “stuff”.
3. Expect Children to Take Care of What They Have.
We have to teach our kids to take responsibility for the possessions they do have. Hang up their clothes, put their toys away, and not leave their bikes out in the road or in the rain. If they don’t take care of their things, we shouldn’t be so quick to replace them. A baseball glove left out in the rain, doesn’t mean they automatically get a new glove. There are consequences. This will teach our children to appreciate what they have and take care of it.
4. Teach Children to be Contributors, NOT Consumers.
Consumers take, and then take more. Contributors are looking for ways to give back and leave the situation better than they found it.
5. Only Acquire What You Can Maintain.
There is a great quote that says “The things you own, end up owning you.” This is so very very true. I fall pray to this all the time. Do you ever think, “if only I could have 20 pairs of socks for each person in our family, then I wouldn’t have to wash so much, or search for socks so much?” This is not true. You can’t maintain 20 X 7 people (pairs of socks). It is so much easier to keep track of 7 pairs each. If you can’t maintain it, or it doesn’t have a place to be put in your home, don’t buy it, and don’t buy it for your children. When we are constantly trying to maintain too much “stuff” we don’t have time to be together as a family.
6. Teach Your Children About Credit.
Commercials and Media teach us, and our children that we should use credit to get what we want, even when we can’t afford it. We need to teach our children very early about credit, how it works and when we use it. Otherwise, they get themselves into trouble.
7. Tame Technology
Excess technology creates lifestyle envy. Not just for our children, but for us too! We really have to be careful with how much our children engage in technology. Before the internet, we could only compare ourselves to our neighbors, those living next door to us, or in our neighborhood. Now, we compare ourselves to the world. It is the same for our children. They see what is going on around the whole world, and expect things that are far beyond our family’s income and are not necessary in the first place. Limit technology and you will find your children are much more content with what they have.
8. Use the 30 Day Rule
When your children want something, beg for something, have them put it on the 30 day list. They will most likely find that after 30 days, they have either forgotten about it, or learned that it really wasn’t that important in the first place. Delayed gratification does wonders for helping our children appreciate what they have.
It is normal for our children to want the newest, or what they don’t have. We feel the same thing as adults; but there is a difference between seeing things we like and feeling our happiness is based on getting those things. Using the above 8 tips will help our children develop a healthy perspective and find happiness in the right things.
P.S. If you live in Northern Utah, mark your calendars for May 7th. The LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER Show is back and on May 7th we are going to “raise the roof” and celebrate Motherhood. The show is in its third year and has proven to be fantastic. Hope you will join us.
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