5 Ways to Beat the Gimmes and Raise Happier Children

by Tracy · 0 comments

Raising children is expensive enough without catering to their constant pleas for treats, toys, gadgets and gizmos. Even if you don’t give in every time, listening to the whining and cajoling is exhausting and makes family life less pleasant and more stressful.

While it’s probably not possible to eradicate the gimmes completely, here are five tips to help children to grow up with reasonable expectations and demands.

1. Turn off the TV. Companies spend billions of dollars on advertising because it works. While children will eventually have to learn how to evaluate ads and understand the tricks marketers use to trigger their “I want” mechanism, most children are not developmentally ready to do this until they are much older.

Choose commercial free options for your child’s television viewing such as DVDs and ad-free networks and limit their viewing. Even without commercials, television is passive entertainment that will atrophy your child’s imagination in excess.

2. Encourage a reading habit and make family visits to the library a regular part of your routine. Reading will not only help your child excel academically, it is also a great way to teach them how to amuse themselves without spending money.

Reading helps children develop the rich imaginations and creativity that will allow them to use the resources that they have and avoid the trap of thinking the only solutions to their problem involve whipping out the credit card.

3. Give them ample opportunities to play outdoors. Running around outside isn’t just a good and free way for them to exercise and burn off energy, it’s also incredibly important for proper development. Children were not designed for sedentary indoor life and going without active play leads to cranky, whiny children.

Visit your local playgrounds often and look for ways that the entire family can experience the outdoors together such as biking, hiking and picnics. Do provide your children with some outdoor toys like bikes and balls, but also allow them to get bored enough to discover the joy of scratching pictures into the ground with a stick or making a huge pile of leaves to jump in.

4. Let them manage their own money with an allowance. Children do need an opportunity to learn how to use money and how to delay gratification by saving up their own cash to buy something they want. Do give your children some general guidelines on how the money should be used but also allow them the freedom to make some mistakes while the stakes are low as this can make a big impression and give them the experience they’ll need to make good choices when they are on their own.

5. Keep special treats special. It’s easy to fall into the trap of getting children something small every time we visit the store or ending every outing with a fast food meal or ice cream cone. It might not be a budget killer, but it’s teaching your child the lesson that buying things for no reason is a necessary part of daily life.

If you’ve already established these expectations breaking them will be painful but worth it in the long run. Stay resolute and remind yourself that you’re teaching your child an important lesson that will serve him or her well for the rest of their life.

Bonus Tip:

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