Saturday, September 8, 2012

Immediate Gratification

Do we give in too fast with our kids, or do we try to teach them to delay gratification? I know I've discussed this before here, but it comes up again and again for us in our family.  As I was reading one of my baby books last night, the authors debated this question with newborns.  They wondered if picking up a newborn baby at every cry taught them to be spoiled or if it taught them trust-that we were always there for them?  Ahem, I prefer the latter theory.  Sorry, but I don't think their brains are mature enough to be manipulative or enough to learn how to wait.

But what if you have toddlers or school aged kids, do you always give in to their wishes?  If you're out shopping and they beg for the sugar cereal, do you buy it for them? Or what if your kids beg to be taken to the park. Do you do what they say because it is a healthy and fun activity, or do you say no because you want them to learn that they can't always get what they want?  Or what if you are out and they ask for a candy bar, and they haven't asked for one in a long time and have been doing really well in school and behaving well at home? Hmmm....

I guess the big question is, at what point do you feel like you are giving in to your kid's every demand?

With toddlers, I know it is easy to give in because they whine sooo much and you just don't want to listen to it.  And if you set limits, they will continue to ask and ask and ask even when you say "no".  It's a hard age AND it's even harder to say 'no' since they are so cute at this age.

So in our house, it's taken some practice and trial and error.  My little girl whines at times but it's hard because she isn't quite at the age yet where she will understand the limit, "I can't understand you when you whine, please ask me in your normal voice," or the ignoring technique for whining.  She doesn't understand what the word 'whine' means anyway, plus she just started really talking, so I don't want to set a limit on her speaking right now.  So when she whines, "mommy, I want milk!" I usually tell her she has to ask me in her 'nice' voice, and to her that means saying, "please." :) So for now, that's all she can handle.

I definitely don't want a little Diva on my hands in the near future either.  You know, the demanding, spoiled little kids that get whatever they want, mini Verucas.  They're the ones that most kids don't want to play with because they don't know how to share, and it's all "me, me, me".   I know we will have a lot of work cut out for us to avoid this and it will take a lot of patience.

But since I don't think you can spoil a little newborn baby, at what age do you start setting limits and not giving in to every demand?  When they start crawling, or walking?

I think right around the age they can start getting into stuff, like electrical sockets or pulling on lamps is good practice to set limits, even though they don't understand it, but just saying it so they can get used to hearing, "I know you really want to pull on that lamp, but it's not for pulling on because it can fall on you," and then move it (aka child proof) so they won't be tempted again.  So a little here, a little there, so they get the idea.  And then increase it as they get older.  But still keeping their developmental level in check and not expecting too much at their young age.  No, an 18 month old should not be expected to pick up every toy off the floor at clean up.

So what about the crying and not picking them up debate? I still haven't stopped doing that and my child is 2.  Well, not if you count the 10 minutes of off and on crying during her sleep training, but that's a whole other issue.

What do you guys think? At what point is picking them up and coddling them spoiling and where do you draw the line?  Hmmm, that gives me an idea.  With so many discipline questions I get from readers, I am thinking I may start doing a few child parenting book reviews on here, even though my fave is still How to Talk :)  Stay tuned....



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