As bad as it may sound, kids have their own way to coerce you: pestering. “Mum, I want this! Please, please, if you don't buy it, I'll cry”.
How many times have we seen a scene like this at, for example, the shopping centre? Embarrassed by the temper tantrum thrown by their children, parents give in and end up buying him whatever he wants. This is such a successful example of pestering, the insatiable desire to get new things among kids.
Dealing with pestering may drive you crazy unless you want to and can spoil your son or daughter. But is that really the best solution? Pay attention to the following article to find out ways to change your kid's expectations.
Pestering: Why does he do it?
To answer that question, maybe we should ask ourselves why we want that brand-new car that our neighbour got a couple of weeks ago. We live in the era of consumerism, where companies design marketing campaigns that target all groups of customers. Of course, that includes kids, who can easily fall in love with those colourful toys and candies shown on commercials in between their favourite cartoons. Pestering could be considered as a consequence of consumerism: Kids count on you as their only resource to keep up with trends and fads, no matter how affordable they are. In fact, one of the keys of pestering is that children don’t understand why those things they want aren’t affordable or good for them!
Pestering: Setting boundaries
Pester power leads to a secondary issue: the lack of personal values. Generally, kids don't understand concepts like making budgets or adapting to certain financial situations, and that's why they pressure you to satisfy their whims and their pestering. As parents, our responsibility is to set boundaries and be firm about them.... 'No' is 'no', and your kid needs to accept that, no matter how dramatic the situation gets. You can be flexible, but it's also very important that you show authority and remind him or her that, the same way you provide them with love and a safe environment to grow up in, you make the financial decisions as well. If you don’t set boundaries, your kid’s pestering could get out of control.
Instead of getting angry when facing pestering, you should try to be natural and have an open conversation with your child about why you can't get him what he wants so much. Even if he's now disappointed, such experiences may help him develop a sense of what's important in the long run and make his pestering better. In addition, this can teach him to respect everyone else's opinions, a social skill that he'll need to deal with many situations in life.
Pestering: Techniques to keep you both calm
The best-case scenario would be one in which your child easily gave up pestering and you didn't have to try hard to convince him, but that's a lot to expect. Being more realistic, pestering may push you over the edge, and you need to be aware of your possible reaction. That's why the first way to reduce pester power is by working on your own emotions. Here's some good advice:
- Don't feel bad if you can't or don't want to treat your kid with a present. The sooner he understands you aren't related to the Rockefellers, the better!
- If pestering is getting on your nerves, you should try to relax. Don't answer right away, take deep breaths and count to 10. Then talk to him!
- Let Dad back you up, so you are not left alone on the spot with pestering.
And, now, it's time for the most difficult thing; learn some techniques to fight pestering without causing conflicts between you and your kid:
- Stick to your answers: make sure you don't budge from what you mean. If you change it, especially from 'no' to 'yes', you'll be feeding pester power. The kid gets away with it, so he'll do it again.
- Praise your child for good and pestering-free shopping behaviour: if he doesn't ask for anything, let him know how proud of him you are. You can tell him that he's very mature for his age and 'pay him back' with alternatives, like playing with him once you get home.
- Explain yourself: you don't need to be harsh on your son or daughter. Make sure he realises that you care about his or her feelings, even though you can't please him or her this time.
- Reduce your kid's exposure to TV commercials and advertisements.
If the tension increases and you are in a public place, don't let the 'social pressure' affect your decisions. Your kid crying in the middle of the shopping centre may catch many people's attention, but don't feel bad. This is part of parenting and you know that, as sad as it looks, the screaming tantrum is a necessary lesson for him.
Despite keeping pestering under control, it's important to pinpoint that there's a happiness component revolving this issue. You want your kid to be happy, of course, yet that's not a synonym of giving him everything. He can't just depend on new toys to be content, and that's the positive message that you need to instil him.