The Hubs and I grew up in homes where our parents lived month to month. Parents who worked very hard for the money they earned. Parents who didn't have a lot of extra income to splurge. We remember wanting things that we never did get. We remember being told no. Lots.
This is NOT a bad thing.
I do feel though, that it has affected the way we parent now. The whole 'giving our kids what we didn't have' thing. Conscious or not, I think that affects the yes or no dilemma at the check out stand. Oh, what the heck, it's only $3.
I read this brilliant quote which I'm sure to butcher here. Something about my generation (or maybe my parents' generation? or maybe both...) being so busy giving our kids what we didn't have, that we are forgetting to give them what we did.
It is important to me that my kids are not spoiled. That they not become the kids who think they are entitled to getting their way. That they be humble and polite and kind. It is really important to me. So much so, that sometimes it leads me to shout at my four-year old.
I grabbed them each a toy on my way out the door. I saw a doll that my B had been looking for and thought that would be a fun way for them to entertain themselves in the van while I drop off a meal for a fellow church member who just had a baby and then while we drive to the Hubs school to take him lunch. Instead of being thankful, my B started whining that what she really wanted was her Elmo doll (that's who was singing on the radio). I said no. My B struggles with accepting no, it's something we've been working on and talking about.
She's really crying now and I lose it. Right in the van.
Why can't you be grateful for the doll I brought you??? (said very, very loudly)
Why do you have to cry and whine when you don't get things exactly your way???
I don't like it when you act like this!!!
Here I am, trying to teach her to use words and stay calm, but yelling so loud that it's straining my voice.
We talked about it on the way home. I apologized for losing my temper. B promised that next time she would be thankful for the toy. We also talked about what was going to happen next.
Every soft toy she's got, except for one that she can keep out, is going into a blue barrel that I usually use to haul laundry. All of them.
Each day at lunch and each night at bedtime, she will be able to choose one to bring out of the barrel. All she's got to do is stay calm and use words when she's upset. I told her she doesn't have to be a perfect robot, and that she's bound to get upset, but we're not doing the crying/whining/plopping on the floor bit any more. I don't think it's too much to ask. She'll still get a warning. But she's going to have to earn back every soft animal she's got. And there are a few.
Poor little guys, exiled to the basement
This made her very sad, but she understands. It made me sad too. I figure we've gone the punitive route for long enough. It isn't working to decrease the behavior. While this is a punishment right at the start, as I'm hauling her animals out of her room, she will now get two rewards a day. I don't have to buy anything new, but it will seem like a gift for her every day. The best part is, that I hope it also teaches her to be grateful for what she has. Those stuffed animals are her favorite toys and what she plays with the most. Perhaps by the time she's earned them all back, her bad habits (tantrums, whining, crying) will be extinct. There are enough animals in there that this little project could last a couple of weeks, depending how many times she loses it. I'm picturing many teachable moments in the weeks to come.
We'll see how it goes.