I am learning how to deal with my kids' materialism meltdowns.
Ellen S.: I recently took my little girl, Sabrina, to the circus. There were trapeze artists doing amazing feats, elephants, tigers, crazy clowns and six motorcyclists flying around a cage. My 5-year-old's favorite thing? The merchandise stand. First, she begged for a $7 popcorn. I gave in. Then she wanted one of those whirly light-up thingies, and I said no. Then I took her to the bathroom and we walked by some snow cones in elephant souvenir cups.
"Mommy, I waaaaaaant one," she said, in her most pitiful voice. "No," I said. "You're never going to use that cup again." And then she leaned over and licked a snow cone. Yep, she licked it. I was horrified. Of course, I had to buy it. I probably should have tossed it on principle, but because I hate to waste food and money, I let her have it.
It put a damper on the event for me -- an afternoon I'd been looking forward to enjoying with my little girl. Because for her, it wasn't about the Greatest Show on Earth; it was all about the Greatest Snow Cone on Earth. After she got it, she barely looked up to see what the performers were doing. As I write this, she is sleeping with the cup next to her. Guaranteed, she'll be over it by tomorrow.
I struggle all the time with my kids' desire to have more, more, more. Both my 7-year-old, Max, and Sabrina regularly request stuff they see on commercials. She's especially dazzled by ads. Last week she tried Brussels sprouts for the first time. I asked what she thought of them. "Good!" she said. She paused, then her whole face lit up. "I think I saw them on a commercial!"
I'm doing what I can to deal. Besides firmly saying, "No, you can't have it" (assuming Sabrina doesn't lick anything), I've also quit taking the kids with me on trips to Target to avoid the "gimmes." After their birthday parties, I hold back about half of the presents and dole them out over the course of the ensuing months. And I recently did a sweep of their playroom and gave away about a third of the stuff they own to charity, to help other kids and also help my kids better see the good toys they already own. When there are too many toys cluttering a room, kids don't know what to play with first.
I highly suspect I am not alone here. Are your kids the same way? And how do you deal with your material girls and boys?!
|Ellen S. is a mother of two, an editor, a writer and a professional snacker. She blogs daily at To The Max, a blog about raising a child with special needs.|