Kids Health

Stop and think before buying your kids more stuff

Teach kids to take care of their existing toys before buying them new stuff.

By Atika Shukla

In our generation, as parents, we enjoy materialistic comforts and conveniences such as sterilisers, trained nannies, day cares, home delivery, etc. Yet, parenting in today’s generation has actually become more stressful and complex, predominately driven by a nuclear family set-up, a demanding working culture and accelerated peer pressure that’s magnified via social media, device addiction and a host of lifestyle related health issues. This has had an impact on providing a nurturing environment, given a majority of today’s parents are pressed for time and invariably give in to their kids demands.

Don’t give in to every demand

Now, if a three-year-old only visits malls, gets driven in an SUV, to expect them to grow up and not demand these would be unrealistic. We have exposed little children to these comforts very early in life. As the child goes to school and sees his peers, it’s natural for his desires to grow. However, to deny his demands may only lead to frustration and a feeling of deprivation and inferiority. By this, I don’t mean that we give in to every demand, but we need to acknowledge the child’s feelings.

Use logic when saying no

For example, say you understand that he/she would really like to have that toy and then give a logical reason as to why you can’t buy it because they already have a similar one at home. Having our feelings heard and acknowledged by someone whom we trust or whose approval we need helps to legitimise them and builds our self-esteem. This helps a long way in children being assertive, making the right choices, being able to say no and warding off peer pressure or trying to fit in. Self-confidence paves the way to be comfortable with who you are as an individual.

Don’t use gifts as rewards

Children do not learn to value things and become responsible overnight; instead, these need to be inculcated everyday. So, by asking them to keep their toys back in the cupboard and not buying toys they’re liable to break, involving them in the daily chores helps instilling that they are responsible for their things. Also, try not to shower every achievement with materialistic things. It will be more beneficial if the child hears words of appreciation. Every time the child goes to the market doesn’t mean he or she has to buy a toy for himself/ herself so it’s important to not to give in. There may be a tantrum the first two times but the third time he/she will know it’s not going to work.

Encourage creativity

The reason parents give in to tantrums is because it’s too distressing, embarrassing or easier to give in. You can take them to a bookstore, encourage them to browse books and you as a parent should pick up a book or two—there is nothing like leading by example. Also, put a routine in place for bedtime stories or a reading hour to enable your child get into a habit of reading. It will actually help to stimulate their creative imagination. Easily accessible digital devices provide too much stimulus and dent the creativity of children.

One of the key things you need to do as a parent is to set boundaries; do not just lay down the law, rather explain and discuss how the limits you place on them are related to your values and how they benefit your children. Giving children a rationale behind your decisions goes a long way in instilling that there will be consequences to an action and thereby enhancing their decision making.

As parents, if we can manage our emotions we will be able to deal with our children far more effectively.

(The writer is Founder and CEO, Breaking Barriers.)

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