And here’s the thing we can forget in the heat of the moment.
It’s human nature to want what we want.
Children are no different.
Think about it! Don’t we want what we want?
It’s the same reason why you get so mad when your child doesn’t do what you want?!
Children can want what they want; it doesn’t mean we have to get it for them.
We get ourselves all worked up when we make assumptions that our children are greedy, ungrateful or entitled for wanting.
We are but human – to want is natural.
And I hear you asking… what if it’s not within my budget? What if I think she doesn’t need it, or I don’t think it’s suitable?
What if he’s asking for an 18-video game and he’s 9? What if she’s asking for her ears pierced and I think she’s too young?
Like I said. Your child wanting doesn’t mean you have to get it.
It doesn’t mean they are wrong for wanting.
By the way, even if you can afford it, it still doesn’t mean you need to get it for them.
Last November my son really really really wanted a new computer game. And it was coming up to Christmas.
Rather than tell him, “You know it’s nearly Christmas. Wanting a new game now sounds really ungrateful, money doesn’t grow on trees you know!” Or offer a suggestion like, “We’ll put it on your Christmas list and you’ll see if you get it!”
I said. “Hmm, it’s really important to you. Tell me about it? What’s so great about it?” And I got to find out more about what he liked, what’s important to him.
“The thing is,” I said. “It’s nearly Christmas and I’m not buying new toys now. Must be some way to get it?”
And you know what? He came up with a plan. He sold his old games and exchanged them for the new game he wanted.
Can you see how we keep the possibilities open for our children when we don’t shut their wants down?
They find solutions to get what they want. Isn’t that what we want for them as they grow?
To know what they want and how to get it?
So, what gets us triggered when our children want?
Fear that you can’t always give their wants to them. Fear that you’ll raise spoilt, ungrateful children. Fear that your children are greedy.
However, when we make our children feel bad for wanting, when it’s met with our aggression, frustration or trying to persuade our children they are wrong for wanting it in the first place, we stop our children sharing their wants with us.
“Why bother telling mummy what I like? She’ll just say I’m wrong or greedy.” And slowly slowly we erode our connection.
There are times when we agree with what they want, and we get it for them. They feel heard, seen, validated, loved.
And then they form the beliefs – if I get what I want I am loved if I get what I want, my feelings are validated.
So, getting what they want becomes even more important to them, but at the same time, they’re fearful to share their desires with their parents in case they get into trouble.
Validation for their wants is what frees then up to move on.
And yes, teach our children it’s okay to feel disappointed or upset they can’t have what they want, but never that they’re bad for wanting.
After learning this, things were different with Sophie. She changed her reaction to her children’s demands.
“Oooh look at that! It’s sooo cool, it looks like so much fun. No wonder you want it! Not today sweetie and thanks for sharing what you like with me!”
And with that, after a little moan from her children and Sophie standing firm with her boundary, they all walked out of the shop smiling and excited for the present they just bought Daddy.