Not only am I on the struggle bus on this one, but I am the freakin’ driver. Yes, ma’am. I am horrible when it comes to buying my children little nonsense trinkets “just because”. Well in all honestly, I have valid reasons like:
…just because I don’t want to hear you whine.
…just because I don’t have the energy to deal with a crying child (or two, or three), or a tantrum.
…just because it will get us through this grocery shopping trip meltdown-free.
…just because you’ve been good for two hours.
…just because it’s Friday.
What do you mean those aren’t valid reasons? Some other parents may disagree with you, but I guess when I think about it, I can see where you are coming from.
Back in May, I published a post about What Is Easy Is Rarely Best. In this article I discussed how, more often than not, I (and many other parents) take the easy way out when it comes to our children. The article goes on to talk about how I do what causes the least amount of stress for me, with no or minimal care to whether or not it’s what’s best for the kids. I openly state that the majority of our days are spent with me finding a way to make things a little less challenging, even if that means letting my children have sugar cookies at 6:30am.
But, this thing that I do where I buy a toy for them a few times a week, well, this is the candle on the cake. It is by far one of my worst mom habits. Besides their immediate gratification, my behavior does absolutely nothing to better them as people, and in fact, I may be hurting their development and depriving them of opportunities for learning and growing.
When I buy my children toys all of the time, even if they are from the $1 trinket section, I am making a mistake. Here is why it’s a bad choice for any parent:
- Your child develops an expectation every time you go out.
- Your child believes he is always deserving of tangible gifts.
- Your child, who may have a different “love language,” may begin to adopt the love language of “receiving gifts”.
- Your child will become or remain to be “spoiled”.
- Your child will think frivolously spending is okay.
- Your child will learn poor money habits overall.
- Your child may solely rely on extrinsic motivation for good behavior.
This brief list just scratches the surface of how we can screw up our child by always buying them gifts.
Alternatively, here is a brief, but super helpful real-life and actionable list of how you can “reward” your child without buying them something:
- Praise, praise, praise them. Directly to them and in front of other people. Make sure that your praise references their hard work and effort, as opposed to the result.
- Keep a chart or log at home, or a chalkboard where their positive behavior can be recognized for the whole family to see.
- Keep a washable marker or pen handy and draw a star or smiley face on their hand to mimic a sticker or a stamp.
- Create a positive behavior jar at home and add (via sticky note) a sentence about your child’s good behavior. Inform them that twice a year, on their birthday and at holiday time, the jar will be examined and all that good behavior will be considered by Mommy and Daddy.
- Talk to your child about how they can earn the money they need to buy the toy they want.
Well, I hope that these tips help you to transition from a parent who always takes the easier road, to a parent who has decided to take the more challenging path because you understand that it’s what’s best for your kids.
And, if you happen to see my cart veering towards the $1 section at Target in the next few weeks, just scream at me to “move it on, lady” and I will be forever grateful.
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