Not only am I riding the #strugglebus on this one, but I am the freakin’ driver.
Yes, ma’am, I am horrible when it comes to buying my children little nonsense trinkets “just because.”
Well, truthfully, I have valid reasons like...
just because I don’t want to hear you whine.
just because I don’t have the energy to deal with a crying child (or two, or three) and an epic tantrum.
just because it will get us through this grocery shopping trip meltdown-free
just because you’ve been good for two hours.
just because it’s Friday.
What do you mean those aren’t valid reasons?
Okay, okay, I guess I can see where you are coming from.
A while back, I wrote an article titled 'What Is Easy Is Rarely Best,' and in it, I admitted that, more often than not, I (and many other parents) take the easy way out when it comes to our children.
We base our parenting decisions on what causes the least amount of stress for me, and embarrassingly sometimes with no or minimal care to whether or not it’s what’s best for the kids.
In the piece, I even shared that the majority of my days are spent with me finding a way to make things a little less challenging, even if that means letting my children have sugar cookies at 6:30 am.
Eek! I'm one of those.
BUT, this thing that I do where I buy a toy for them a few times a week, this is the candle on the cake that I am ashamed to eat (or better yet, embarrassed to admit I bought, likely as a bribe for good behavior).
Buying unnecessary and undeserved toys for my kids is by far one of my worst mom habits.
Besides their immediate gratification, my behavior does absolutely nothing to better them as people, and in fact, I may be hurting their development and depriving them of opportunities for learning and growing.
When I buy my children toys all of the time, even if they are from the $1 trinket section, I am making a mistake.
Here's why daily or weekly toy purchases for your kids is a bad choice for any parent:
Your child will have this expectation every time you go out.
Your child will believe he is always deserving of tangible gifts.
Your child, who may have a different “love language,” may begin to adopt the love language of “receiving gifts.”
Your child will become or stay “spoiled.”
Your child will think frivolous spending is okay.
Your child will learn poor money habits overall.
Your child may solely rely on extrinsic motivations for good behavior.
This brief list barely scratches the surface of how we can screw up our children by always buying them gifts.
But, AHA, here is a brief, but super helpful real-life and actionable list of how you can “reward” your child without buying them something:
Praise, praise, praise them. Directly to them and in front of other people.
Make sure that your praise references their hard work and effort, as opposed to a result.
Keep a chart or log at home, or a chalkboard where their positive behavior can be recognized for the whole family to see.
Keep a washable marker or pen handy and draw a star or smiley face on their hand to mimic a sticker or a stamp.
Create a positive behavior jar at home and add (via sticky note) a sentence about your child’s good behavior. Inform them that twice a year, on their birthday and at holiday time, the jar will be examined and Mommy and Daddy will consider all that good behavior when considering earned holiday or birthday gifts.
Talk to your child about how they can earn the money they need to buy the toy they want.
These are just a handful of tips to help you to transition from a parent who always takes the easier road, to a parent who has decided to take the more challenging path because you understand that is what is best for your children.
Now, later or in the next few weeks, if you happen to see my cart veering towards the $1 section at Target, just scream at me to “move it on, lady” and I promise I will forever be grateful.