Velma Black's 4-year-old daughter, Simone, has no problem asking for what she wants. The trouble is, Simone always wants something, from candy bars to coloring books. "Any time she sees a commercial, she asks for whatever's advertised," says Black, who's from Woodridge, Illinois.
Does your kid have a case of the gimmes too? If she's got tons of toys but still wants more, the answer is yes. Ditto if she badgers you for stuff long after you've said no, or demands things because her friends have them. (And double ditto if "let's get a new one" is her refrain whenever she breaks something.) Greed isn't good—but it is common among 4- and 5-year-olds. Here's how to teach your child that less is more.
Your kid's obsession with acquiring stuff may seem obnoxious, but it's actually a natural outgrowth of two very positive developments. First, his imagination is blossoming, which is terrific—except for the fact that it makes him much more vulnerable to advertising. If he sees a kid having a great time playing with a truck on TV, for instance, he can easily picture how much fun he'd have with it too.
Your child is also getting good at socializing and communicating. While this makes for great playdates, it means he's now comparing notes about toys, clothes, and other gear with his peers—and then demanding that you buy him the same stuff.
It's fun to indulge your child's desires, but giving in too often shows her that nagging works. "She'll expect to always get her way, which will lead to constant arguments and disappointment," says Jean Illsley Clarke, Ph.D., a family-life educator in Minneapolis and co-author of How Much Is Enough? Follow these steps to strike a balance.
Copyright© 2005. Reprinted with permission from the June 2005 issue of Parents magazine.
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