Preview: If you dread taking our kids shopping because they ask for things in the store, try this trick to teach them generosity!
Are you always battling “I want something” tantrum when you take kids shopping? Me too. It makes shopping with kids extra difficult. In our parenting struggles, we always want to teach our kids kindness and generosity. With just a few tricks, we can teach our kids generosity and empower them to make good choices,
Kids keep asking for something in the store? Try this trick!
Is it just me or do your kids go through phases of obsession? I think the first was Strawberry Shortcake, then Princesses… it goes on from there and it changes often. Currently, we are battling an obsession with “lip gloss” (lip balm) and we now have 193,276 tubes of “lip gloss”. I might be exaggerating but it doesn’t feel that way when you are constantly stepping on lip balm caps.
Every time we get close enough to the car that she thinks we might be going somewhere, my daughter starts asking for a lip gloss. Even when she temporarily forgets about lip gloss, she is asking to buy something. Anything. And I get it: the thrill of shopping is innate. (okay, so that is just a fancy way of saying she gets it from me! I admit it.)
Since it is (a little bit ;)) my fault, I need a solution before my house is overrun with toys and lip gloss. If I can’t distract her with Youtube and I still want to avoid a tantrum, I have to come up with something quick. Then I could tackle teaching her generosity because obviously, I have been failing at it.
Teach giving over greed
Here is my new solution: when she asks if she can buy something in the store, I tell her “You may buy something, but it must be a gift for someone else“. I was surprised at how excited she was to agree the first time I suggested it. I expected at least an argument. She was really happy to decide who she would buy a gift for and brainstormed on what that person would like. She actually went in the store and looked for a gift for that person- no arguments, no detours to the lip gloss aisle. She concentrated only on her gift and how much the recipient would like it. I was quite impressed.
Sometimes we underestimate our children. This was one of those times. I took her constant begging for toys and trinkets as self-centered, I-want-it-all mentality when really none of those things were true. She was much more excited to get a gift for someone else than she has ever been about a trinket from any shopping trip.
This trick not only deters “I want, Can I have…” but it can also teach kids the value of giving and generosity. You could take it one step further and allow your child to pick an item to donate to someone in need. Stores are often holding charity promotions right at the checkout. You could also encourage them to pick food items for local food banks (to avoid the temptations of the toy aisle).
For older kids, you can try setting a limit on how much they can spend. For younger children who do not quite understand the value of money, try giving two or three suggestions. This helps you stay on budget and still allows them to exert their independence as the “decision maker”.
This simple kids shopping tip might help keep some of the clutter of trinkets and toys out of your car/house/purse. It also helps your child learn the value of giving and the joy of making other people feel special.
How to raise a generous child
I love Google’s definitions for generous: (1) (of a person) showing a readiness to give more of something, as money or time than is strictly necessary or expected (2) showing kindness toward others.
Kindness and generosity are characteristics we want to instill in our children. There are a few tips to help present generosity in a way that our children can understand it and want to be generous too.
A few ideas:
~ Lead by example- If your children constantly observe you holding doors for people and stopping to help an elderly woman with her groceries, they are more likely to model that behavior. Teach kindness by being kind. Look for opportunities to let your kids see you being generous. (For example, We keep kindness rocks in the car to bring people smiles while we are out on our errands!)
~Talk about generosity– Call it out when you see kindnesses and generosity happening! “Did you see that person add a coin to the other’s car’s meter? That was generous of that man!”. This creates a greater understanding of what generosity really means.
~Identify what generosity isn’t- While talking about being generous, it may be important to point out that giving something away just because a person wants it or doing what a person says just to be kind- those are not acts of kindness or generosity. Talk about the difference between being generous and being bullied in a way that helps your child understand the difference.
~ Create opportunities for giving– When you see an opportunity to be generous, take it. Do it together with your child. If there is a box at the checkout collecting school supplies for children in need, point it out to your child and suggest finding something to give. Allow your child to pick the time or put it in the box. Involving them in the process helps them feel invested and proud.
If you are looking for some additional tips to avoid the materialistic mindset, here is a great article from the American Academy of Pediatrics on helping children learn gratitude: 12 Tips for Teaching Gratitude.
Parenting win. No more tantrums in the store- plus, you are helping people and bonding with your child.
And if they still want to buy something in every store, try these tricks for getting errands done without dragging kids to the store!
We could use so much more kindness in this world. It starts with you!