How to practice delayed gratification with kids.
Inside: Where, Why and How to practice delayed gratification for kids, so it becomes their lifestyle and they learn to control their own impulses, and make better decisions as adults!
There has been a lot of talk about delayed gratification these days; and how if we don’t practice delayed gratification our kids start feeling they’re “entitled to whatever they want” or something like that (I don’t totally get that concept..)
For me, it’s important to practice delayed gratificationbecause — that’s how real life works! We don’t always get what we want instantaneously, and a little wait and work can get us most things we want!
Since that’s how most things are going to pan out in their life; that’s how our interactions should be with them right now, so that delayed gratification is normalized in their life from the get go!
BUT, here’s the thing — when I read about delayed gratification most people are always talking about TOYS their child wants to buy; well that’s not even close to what we should be focusing on, it’s much- much, much larger umbrella than toys!
Delayed gratification should be practiced in — food, toys, demands to do things, places to go, basically – everything life!
Just think — there’s a time for everything, and when the time is right, we do what’s appropriate.
And just to be clear — if your kids are not even listening to you about not buying that toy, the reason is because delayed gratification is not being practiced in other areas of their lives, and when you ask them to wait for something they “must have” (in their minds); you’re being unfair; hence the extreme revolt!
[bctt tweet=”Practice Delayed Gratification with kids because in real life — we don’t always get what we want instantaneously, and a little wait and work can get us most things we want!” username=”nestedblissfuly”]
Where and How to Practice Delayed Gratification With Kids?
Here’s the thing — First and foremost, let go of the thought that when you practice delayed gratification with your children you’re doing something extraordinary for them! Yes, if you practice this; you’ll raise amazing individuals who have patience and willingness to work hard. But, that’s how we all should be in the first place.
Plus, when you give special attention to it; they get suspicious and start revolting more.
Think of delayed gratification for kids as a natural way of life; do things in a manner just like you would do to yourself!
For example — Say, your child is hungry right when you are about to leave from a place you’re visiting to go home; instead of pulling over in a drive-in, or pulling out a packaged untimely snack; acknowledge their feelings, tell them you understand they’re hungry it’ll take you X mins to get home, and as soon as you get there the first thing you’ll do is help them with some food as soon as you all get home.
I heard a birdie sayin’ — ” But, my child is a picky eater; if he asks for food, or cries for it and I know he’s crying for food; I’ll rock the world to get him/her that”!
Well, guess what? — Their picky eating habit exists for the exact reason because they know they’ll get what they want to eat when they want to eat it.
When a child experiences hunger in school or in a public place where they can’t get food right away, they’ll get home they eat what is offered. And when you remind them (after that food at home), that they got super hungry because they didn’t eat your breakfast before school, or lunch when offered, they’ll eat it nex time.
You’re not being harsh or cruel; that’s exactly what you would do to yourself; if you got hungry at an odd time; you’ll wait till you go home, and remember to eat your breakfast the next few days!
Our Breakfast Story –
Real hunger changes habbits very quickly! — My son did’nt eat breakfast in the morning before school (maybe it was too early for him), and at school they get their snack at 10:30-11:00 am. One day, I asked him to wait for his supper, and his eyes welled up with tears. I knew instaneously he’s experienced hunger in school, becuase he never get so sad that he tears up without being deeply hurt. So, after dinner we talked about him getting hungry at school, and how he should eat his breakfast before school to keep his tummy full at school, and also that we all do it before we go for work and all…and he’s never missed his breakfast one day since then.
Let me ask you a question — How many times has your child happily eaten a food that they did’nt like at another time? It’s becuase they were hungry this time aka delayed gratification!
I personally, very rarely have snacks in my bags I (I find so many smooshed bars in my bags it’s unbelievable). My kids get snacks when it’s logically feasible, or the snack is preplanned.. or if I ate their snack (yeah, I did that last week in children’s museum; I am on a diet and the only thing I could eat was their cheese sticks; so they got a snack from vending machine… and that was our #reallife raw moment!)
(I specifically picked an example of food; because parents seem to be especially soft towards their child’s hunger)
Delayed Gratification with Toys!
Yes, let’s talk about this one too… I know it’s so difficult to practice delayed gratification with toys that our children ask for — those screeching voices gets us, and it’s usually right when we’re all exhausted, plus the thing they want is less than $10 and it’s right there; AND it has the power to stop that loud and embarrassing public tantrum!
I get it!! Been there.. a big bunch of times (we visit a children’s museum every week).
Next time this happens, think this to find the strength to not get that toy — Think of all the clutter it’ll add to your house, a better use of those $10 for your child, the understanding your child will gain from not getting that toy!
Not fulfilling their impulse desies does’nt just help you; this helps your child eventually too (a lot), we’re all in this together!
Make it a habit to not buy
It’s difficult, but we must resist impulse buys for all of us. To be honest, if you don’t get it enough of times you and they’ll learn it to be a way of life!
I’ve done this, we just don’t buy toys on a roll; becuase the ones I can get them without a thought are either small, or low quality. Plus, it’s difficult for me to just throw them away, so it adds to the clutter. And, think about it we visit the museum every week, even if I got them something every month; it’ll be a lot of stuff.
And let me assure you this — if you buy things for your kids eveytime you visit a place, you’ll stop going there; just because it feels like an added burden! (A lot of my good friends have told me this as a reason for not going to children’s museums often.)
So, eventually you’ll miss out on amazing learning opportunities and fun, you and your child will get from that place.
Tell them the real deal
If it’s a toy I know my son loves (mostly vehicles) and I feel it’s okay for him to have it; BUT it’s very unfairly priced (which most impulsive buys are). I tell him the real deal — we can get that toy, but it’s very inappropriately priced here, let’s go home and we’ll try it find it online, and that’s what we do!
However, when we reach homeI don’t wait for him to ask me let’s buy that toy now, or hope he forgets it. 90% of the time he’ll forget it. But, I actually remind him; because I see it as an opportunity to gain his trust in me. I want him to believe — if mom said something to me, we’ll fulfill it later!
That trust if gained is not just priceless lifelong, but also comes in handy when you have to ask them to keep their emotions in control (sometimes)!
Make a wishlist
I have a friend from Instagram, she’s Jen from mamapapabubba and the way she practices delayed gratification is everytime her kids like a toy enough to want it, she takes their picture with the toy and they build a wishlist. Some of which is fulfilled on their birthdays or christams! Which I think is a great way to practice gratification. This way, your child feels heard and yet you don’t add something to your home thoughlessly.
Don’t let your budget friendliness fool you
Budget friendly cheap toys or craft material is the most difficult to resist, and the marketers know this so they trap you into it!
And the worst this is this darn mindset becomes a lifestyle before you know it!
But, I must caution you on this one — lot of times we end up buying too many small things that add up in money and in material.
I’ve seen it happen way too many times with so many good friends and did this myself in the past.
We get things thinking — “Well I can’t afford much, and this’s just $5 that she wants it let me get it for her”. And this happens in different areas 5 times a month; in a yr you would have brought $300 worth of toys, plus Christams and Birthdays! That’s a lot of dollars.
It’s a trap, hold yourself from falling for it! Something is cheap should be your last reason to buy it.
While, I also have some other friends who are able to affoard a $200 montessori friendly-european-wooden-toy, becuase they have zero impulse buys!
You it’s your turn to pick!
Finding a Balance!
Since it’s a lifestyle — You treat your child’s desires just like you treat your own!
And just like sometimes we splurge on our impulsive buys ourselves; it’s okay to show that vulnerability of ours to our kids!
When I do it I always have a diffeent reason for it; but the pattern usually is — I buy it impulsively to tame the craziness in my life.
Either it’s because I feel like I’ve found what I want/need and if I don’t get it now it may not be possible for the next 2 weeks becuase of time and memory limitations.
OR because I am not feeling upto it, and this impulsive buy is my pick me up shot. Or (very rarely) I’ve brought something to make the merry moment merrier (which never works) !
BUT — it’s best to have a pre-set standard and preset thought around it. OR you’ll keep talking yourself into buying things for them all the time!
The standard I’ve set for us, to (if) deviate from our goals is — If we’ve been very busy or if kids have been irratable for a few days!
These are the two main reasons I allow myslef to splurge too — so the same standard is set for them.
I want to show them that’s what real life choices are according to me. And, I hope just like I feel later – I did’nt need it, and I’ll catch myself from getting it another time, they feel and realize it too!
It’s a Lifestyle!
So you see delayed gratification, is not such a huge deal as we think it is; it’s a lifestyle that we all have, it’s a way of living and helping our kids learn to keep calm when impulsive desies strike!
It’s a lifestyle!
And, it gets much-much easier and your children learn the pattern.
However, the 2 important things to remember are — Sticking to your plan and fulfilling your promises for later!