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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Solving The Satisfaction Dilemma With Little Ones

Somebody asked me to make a post about helping kids appreciate what they have and not want what other's have.

This is part 2 of the "Give Me! Give Me! Give Me! I Want! I Want! I Want! I Need! I Need!" post.

I think one of the biggest disservices we can do to our children is to give them too much. Have you ever been to a toy store and seen little children screaming out "I want that!" "PLEASE GIVE MY THAT!" It changes from row to row as they go down the isle of the toy store. The child is totally overwhelmed with desire and can't make up their mind.
Well, that is what it is like every day for a child who has too much "stuff". We live in a world of "stuff mart". Our kids are bombarded with stuff. And too much "stuff" isn't better, it is just more, and it is a detriment to them.

If you go into a home where there are too many toys, most of the time the kids don't even play with them. They are too overwhelmed overloaded, which can lead to hyperactive play and play without purpose. (destroying things)

When our boys were little they had plenty of toys to choose from, and I was picky about what they had. We made sure the toys were well made, and in the right age bracket to interest them. Then, we put the toys out for them for playing. If they had good toys that they seemed to begin to be bored with, we would put those away and leave others out. We used toys in shifts. We would change them every 2 months, so they always seemed to have something different to play with. It was like having a new toy all over again, but it wasn't new, and the joy of having that old toy back was great to see.

Things we purchased also required imagination. We did not purchase toys that did things FOR you. So, the Tonka Dump Truck was in, but a toy with a siren, and all sorts of gadgets was out. We had the Fischer Price Cash Register, Shopping Cart and fake food items, and several other Fischer Price Quality toys. We also had wooden puzzles and simple cars. We didn't go for buying play houses etc. as those things can be taken care of with a blanket and chairs. (a tent)

The boys never seemed to get bored.

The other thing we did was provide endless hours of hands on play. No TV, you better have something to replace it with. We had a long table with paper, glue, beads, scissors, crayons, a bucket of modeling clay, cookie cutters, rolling pins, etc.

They created great things with those busy little hands and minds.

As they got older and found that other children had things they didn't have, we were able to explain to them WHY we didn't have certain things at home, and that is was great that they could enjoy something different when they visited a friend. It never seemed to be a problem for them to not have those things. Many of their friends like coming over and doing crafts and playing.

We very seldom went out to eat, so when we did it was a true treat. I think the boys instinctively understood that it was a real pleasure to go out, so when we did, they knew not to ask for the biggest or best. We were frugal and that was that. We taught them if they wanted anything bigger,like a big mac instead of a hamburger or a big coke instead of a small one, they would have to pay for it themselves. Suddenly, it wasn't any big deal at all. :)
We also purposely didn't do the happy meal thing if we did go to McDonalds. But periodically, we would get them one.

The girlies know too not to ask or beg. The other day we went out to run an errand and it was around lunch time. I knew we would be back later and intended to stop somewhere for them. I didn't say it though. We were close enough to home to wait if we needed to. So I waited and after passing several yummy places to eat, and the girls saying nothing, I said, "You have been so sweet not to ask mommy to stop, I think we can eat out today." They were very excited about that, and enjoyed their meal.

We have taught the children that parents like to delight their children and bless them, but it isn't a blessing if it is an expectation. So far, it seems to have worked with all 7 of them. Not perfectly of course as we all have sin natures that pop up now and then and need to be brought back into subjection. But, overall, I feel the children have a healthy attitude about things.

Tips for if you have too much or do too much:

1. Go through your children's toys while they are asleep. Discard broken junk that has no value. (the bottom of the toy box stuff) They will not miss it.

2. Go through the age appropriate things. If they have outgrown toys, get rid of them or put them away for another child.

3. If you have too much stuff, give it away! And then when you have what seems the right amount, rotate it out. (put 1/2 in the attic and keep the other 1/2 out)
(do this when the kids are asleep, they will not notice)

4. Only keep enough items so that they can fit into whatever storage bin or box you have. It shouldn't take more than 10-15 minutes to clean a room up.

5. Keep Legos, Lincoln Logs etc. put up for special use, and then when they are done, put them back away before anything else is brought out.

6. Keep ample supply of blank paper, stickers, glitter, glue beads etc. so the children can create wonderful works of art.

7. Spend time WITH them, creating things. They love this. You don't have to be a great artist to draw or make something fun.

8. When you have clay and rolling pens and cookie cutters, that can be very helpful for kids that are stressed to relax them.


Try to find ways to CATCH your children being greatful, helpful, playing well, taking good care of their things and praise them for it. "I am so pleased that you took such good care of that today by putting it away!" "I am so proud of the picture you drew! You are an awesome drawer!" " You have had a great attitude!" "Thanks for not asking for things!" Kids like being praised when it is genuine and they deserve it.

And I am really proud of myself for not buying that new set of towels I had my eye on. I didn't NEED it. :)

2 comments:

Melissa E. said...

Sometimes I think I should just link to your posts since you think and do exactly what I do! We don't have room for a craft table but we do have a box and it is especially fun when we get that out!

Mike and Christie said...

LOL....

I wish we had our old conference table I had when the boys were younger. We too don't have the room any more, so I keep everything in a large accessible cabinet near the kitchen table. It is a built in hutch meant for all those precious breakable dishes you are supposed to have at my age. :)

I prefer the craft stuff. :)

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