Thursday, February 24, 2011

Snickers Theory

Snickersphoto © 2008 Sudeep Bajpai | more info (via: Wylio)


"Oohhhh, Snickers!" as I quote the character Cher from the movie "Clueless."  That is exactly the reaction children give when they pass by a Snickers bar (or any candy) at the grocery store. Stores just love taunting children at the check out lines with all kinds of chocolate bars and candy. Like we don't have enough to deal with when we go shopping with our children, having to constantly redirect them AWAY from the temptations.

After I posted about 'Temper Tantrums' the other day, I remembered I forgot to include my 'Snickers Theory.' And it definitely deserves its own post.  Because as a parent, you deal with it ALL the time.

What is the Snickers Theory? Well, basically that our kids have learned that it will take asking their parents 'X'  times for something before they get what they want.

Here is how it works:

When children ask us for something they really love, like a Snickers bar in the check-out line, many parents say 'No' or will try some limit setting as in this previous post here.

Then they ask us again, "please, please I really want the candy bar!" and we reply, "I said no" or a form of limit setting such as, "I can see you really want one, but we are not getting a Snickers bar today."

Then it can go on and on, "But I REALLY want one!"

And after hearing them ask us 8 times, we are annoyed so we finally give in. Why do we give in? For many reasons: we're embarrassed in public, we just want them to be quiet, we can't take hearing 'but why?' one more time, etc.

So what do our children learn from this?

They learn that it will take asking mom 8 times for a Snickers bar before she gives in to me!  Yes, they now know they can get what they want eventually by asking you 'X' amount of times.  They are so excited they have figured out a way to work us, and have become little conniving experts!

Same goes for when asking for routine things at home. For instance, one day I don't let my baby have my iPhone to play with, but then an hour later I do because I want her to stop crying. She has now learned that if she tries hard enough, she can eventually get what she wants.  If I had been strict and said NO iPhone from day 1 and never gave in, she probably would have learned a long time ago not to try asking for it- AND learned that "when mommy says no, she means no."

So what is a parent to do?  BE CONSISTENT.  As hard as it may be, keep your answer firm when your children ask you for something they can not have or do.  Even if they are asking you 20 times, pleading, whining and crying, stick to your limit.  It may create a lot of tears, public embarrassment and temper tantrums, but it will teach them consistency.

Being consistent also teaches them trust.  That they can trust what you say, and will feel safe with you as a parent- which will go a long way in your relationship with them!

I know, sounds easy enough on paper but hard to practice.  Maybe try it for 1 week as an experiment and see what happens, hopefully it will catch on fast and will only take one try at the next super market outing!  Let me know what works for you and if you've had any success. :)


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