Gimmee-Free Holiday Shopping
By Elizabeth Pantley
"I've reached the point where I don't want to take my child into a store. It doesn't matter if we're in a toy store, the grocery store, or the gas station - my kid finds something he "must" have. He usually starts out with a gentle plea, moves up to an annoying whine, and eventually works himself up to frantic begging and pleading. I HAVE to get my holiday shopping done! Help!"
Think about it: It's a simple equation. Take lots of exciting TV commercials, add a peek at a friend's prized possessions. Multiply the result by attractive store displays. Sprinkle liberally with a child's natural desires and the result is: THE GIMMEES. It's a hard lesson, but kids can learn to enjoy viewing the finer things in life without demanding that they have a piece of every pie they see.
Give the shopping list of the day: Let your child know in advance what you will or will not be buying that day. For example, "We're going to the mall to buy gifts for Nathan and Julia. We may get socks as well, but that's all we'll be purchasing for ourselves today." When your child makes a request for a sweatshirt, simply remind him, "That's a great shirt, but remember, we're here to buy gifts today."
Accept their wishes: Acknowledge your child's desire for nice things, "Wow! That is an amazing game. It looks like fun." Follow this with a statement of why you'll not be buying it, without sounding reproving, such as, "We're only buying groceries today." Or "We're here to buy a gift for your cousin Oishi today."
Santa's list: Create a "wish list" for your child and keep it in your wallet. Whenever your child says, "I want this" make a comment such as, "Do you prefer the blue one or the rainbow colored one?" Then pull out the list and add the item saying, "I'll add this to your wish list."
Play pretend: Validate your child's wish for new things by using a fantasy statement, "Wouldn't it be great if the owner of this store told us we could fill up our cart with anything we wanted for free!" What typically ensues is a fun game of make believe.
Teaching, too: Don't ever say, "We can't afford it." The message is that if you could you'd buy that two-hundred-dollar shoes! Instead make a comment that can teach your child something about making money decisions, such as, "Those are pretty, but we choose not to spend $200 on a pair of shoes when we can find ones we like for thirty dollars."
(Excerpted with permission by NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group Inc. from Perfect Parenting, The Dictionary of 1,000 Parenting Tips by Elizabeth Pantley, copyright 1999)
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