Why don’t they appreciate anything?
At Parenting Power, our beliefs are simple. You build a child from the inside – out; from the ground – up. You devote time to cultivating strong roots and a firm core. You allow leaves and shoots to develop once the foundation has been set.
Just because it is simple, doesn’t make it easy.
This month we are talking about #TooMuchStuff. Adding stuff to the outside of our kids does not help with building them up on the inside. Today, the stuff we are highlighting is gifts.
For many kids in our society, they get so many gifts that they can’t even remember what they have. We hear from parents,
“Kids today don’t appreciate the stuff that they do have!
They are always wanting more!”
It’s pretty hard to appreciate the stuff when there is always more stuff coming along as a distraction. When special treats become things that happen all the time, the ‘special’ nature of it no longer exists. Giving kids many gifts sends a message that “stuff” makes them happy. It feels like we are giving, but we may also be taking things away from them:
The value of special gifts
The opportunity to learn to delay gratification
There is a lot of research around the importance of delayed gratification, one component of Executive Functioning. One of the most famous studies is summarized here. The New Zealand Longitudinal Marshmallow study traced a correlation between a 3-year-old’s ability to delay eating a marshmallow with future success markers in life. Self-control at a young age was linked to better health, financial success and stronger relationships.
One of the key elements to come out of this research is the ability for people to learn self-control; one is not simply born with it or without it. To that end, we have an opportunity to be supporting our kids in learning to delay gratification by not instantly giving them every gift they request.
So how can we make a change?
Today, we are encouraging you to consider how often kids are getting gifts in your family. There may be some really easy ways to cut back. We offer up these to areas as ways to cut back:
1. Many parents think that they have to buy their kids a gift every time they go away on a trip. Sometimes this is about guilt (I got to go away and they had to be home without me). Sometimes we genuinely find something on a trip that our kids would love. Get clear what is important for your family.
2. Loot bags have long been a secret (or not so secret) pet peeve of ours at Parenting Power. They often consist of items that are fairly junky and will likely end up in the landfill. Consider whether loot bags are something necessary at your child’s parties.
Just to be clear – In no way are we suggesting that you stop giving your family members gifts 100% of the time! We encourage you to consider the stuff coming into your home and ask yourself the following questions:
Do we buy our kids treats and gifts all the time?
Do we argue with our kids about cleaning up all of their stuff?
Do our kids know how to wait for things that they want? If not, how can we start teaching that with baby steps?
Does my child really need this thing that I’m buying right now?
If you are curious about what strategies you can share with your kids, we are always here to answer your questions and give you real life parenting tools.