You really lucked out, in the child lottery, didn't you? Just look at her, that daughter of yours. She's beautiful, obviously-everybody says, she's going to have movie star looks, when she grows up. She's healthy-just the usual childhood illnesses, and she's in the ninetieth-percentile of height, for her age. It goes without saying that she's smart-she was the best thing in the kindergarten Thanksgiving pageant last year, (O. K. , so she flubbed a couple of lines; at least you could hear her!).
But, if she's so perfect (and she has such perfect parents), what's that nagging fear, in the pit of your stomach?
"BUY ME THAT DOLL!!! NOW!!!"
Oh, right. It's the fear that maybe, just maybe, she might be the teeniest, tiniest bit…spoiled. But what a voice, huh?
Kids today are blasted with advertising, from the time they're cognizant. From TV ads, warning them that they can't live without the latest new and improved …whatever… to billboards at the soccer field, young children are the focus of multi-billion-dollar campaigns to separate parents from their dollars.
So, how do you say “no" to an angel?
The best way is to start when she's young. Your toddler won't understand the concepts of value and money, but if you start that discussion early in her development, she'll be used to it, by the time she's old enough to understand. She'll test you, when you say no-that's her job, as a growing human being. Another part of her job is learning her boundaries and yours. If you say no, gently but firmly, and stick to it, she'll learn, eventually, that nagging and begging doesn't work.
Make her work for it. Even young kids can understand the concept of reward. Add some new chores, to her normal, daily ones. If she completes these new tasks, regularly, promise her the new…whatever…as a prize. She'll start to understand the value of work, as well.
TV is the great babysitter of our time, but you can limit the amount of commercial TV your daughter watches, and thus, her exposure to advertising. Parents who do this often find that, when they go shopping with their kids, many of those toys that look so big and pretty on TV seem so small and junky on the store shelves, and their kids are far less attracted to them.
Even grocery stores know how to snag your daughter's interest. Toys and candy fill the shelves at the checkout lane, and she's bound to want something. Show her your list, before you go shopping, and explain that the purpose of the trip is to buy things the whole family needs, and that if it's not on the list, you don't need it. Or make a deal with her, before the trip to the store-if you have enough money, after securing the family's needs, you might buy her one small item, if she's been helpful and well-behaved. A lot of parents find it easier to do the grocery shopping during times when their children can't go-during school hours or later in the evening.
The most important thing you can do for yourself and your perfect angel is to realize that your daughter's tears don't necessarily make you a bad parent. Setting limits-even limits on new…whatevers-will help teach her responsibility, and make both your lives much more pleasant, in the long run.
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