Are you always battling “I want something” tantrum when you take kids shopping? Try this simple trick to teach gratitude instead.
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.
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. 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).
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.
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.