Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How to Say No When Your Kid Wants a Toy

For most parents, saying no to their children is hard. Parents may feel that they are being mean, unfair, or that they are denying their children life’s pleasures by not letting them have their every heart’s desire. Often times, parents take the saying, “Ask and you shall receive,” a bit too literally.

With brighter, shinier, faster toys on the market these days, it seems that children hardly have a chance to play with their toys before they want the newer, improved version of the thing you just bought last week. When I was young, I was given my siblings’ hand-me-down Barbie dolls and GI Joe action figures to play with. When those things got old, I was scuffled outside to play on the backyard swing set, slide, or tire swing.

Parents today are not able to keep up with the demand, and to supply each and every one of your child’s requests can become costly. These toys also seem to keep children cooped up in the house, allowing them to live alternate realities with out ever leaving their rooms. Don’t take my word for it, but this seems to me like unhealthy behavior!

It is important that parents are able to set boundaries for their children that instill values they can carry with them throughout adulthood. This includes developing coping and relationship skills with the rest of the world. If a child is used to always getting his way, think of how devastating it will be for that child to grow up and realize that the world isn’t always as positive.

Simply telling a child that they can’t have a certain item they want will not suffice. Those who have ever encountered a child knows that they always want to know what the reason for why everything is the way it is (we have to be prepared to honor those questions with valid answers that their minds can process.) Being up front and honest with them is the best way to do this. Yes, this basic law of social conduct applies to our children, too!

Here are some ideas to keep your kids happy while letting them down easy:

• First and foremost, establish an open relationship with your children. Be honest. Talk to them rationally and explain your reasons for saying no. Avoid raising your voice and screaming at all costs. This will only escalate the issue and turn it into a shouting war.

• Be consistent. If you say no, mean it. Don’t back down and don’t change your mind or give in ten minutes later. Following through with your decisions will give your child a sense of security.

• Get involved. If you child wants to go and hang out with friends and you think they are not quite old enough or ready to handle the situation, come up with an activity that you both would enjoy together. Check out that new comedy in the theater, go for a bike ride, play games together on the internet, or discover any museums your city has to offer. There are tons of opportunities out there! You could also offer to chaperone them on this trip or speak to their friends’ parents to switch off on monitoring them.

• Reinforce your veto with something positive. If you aren’t keen on buying your kid that violent new video game, offer to cook them their favorite dinner that evening. Keep your attitude positive throughout the whole experience so that they see there is nothing to get upset about.

Whatever your mode of disciplining your child, always remember to stay calm. Children mirror our ways and adapt to how we handle situations. Keeping your own emotions and actions in check is a sure way to rub off that good behavior onto your kids. Happy parenting!

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