I remember as a young child, a trip to the toy store was a huge treat. My brother and I were left mainly to our own devices and I don’t think we were any the worse for it.
These days parents are busy scheduling their kids days with activites, trying to entertain them, home school them. With limited energy these days, the kids are left on their own in the afternoons. Usually they end up playing imaginary games with each other and in the process, they turn the house upside down. I don’t mind since they know that whatever mess they create, they have to clean it up later. Their idea of tidying up isn’t exactly tidy but at least they pitch in and help.
Recently I have realised that Ally has become very demanding. Not in a bratty sort of way, but she expects a special treat daily. It could be something as small as sleeping with the air-conditioner turned on but nonetheless, she expects it. And when that expectation isn’t met, she’ll sometimes sulk or whine for a bit which would result in a stern scolding from us. I kept wondering what brought about this sudden change in her and then I realised, we were giving her too much. She now expected instant gratification, which meant ” I want means I get NOW” without realising, we have created this situation for ourselves. A special treat used to be just that, special, then it became daily which meant it was no longer special. Now, it was EXPECTED.
I read a quote recently and it definitely applies to our current situation. “By allowing down-time, we restore balance, and the “high” moments, the camping trips, the birthday parties, the trips to the zoo, are made even more valuable. They are anticipated. Daydreamed about. Remembered. Kim explains that anticipation counters instant gratification – and strengthens our children’s inner life with patience and an ability to wait, to hold back their own desire for ‘everything now.’
I remember how excited I would be about a trip to the zoo or even a friend’s birthday party. It was a huge deal to me simply because we didn’t do it often. Now we need to undo this mess that we’ve got ourself in with Ally. First I’ve explained to her that priviliges have to be earned. Secondly, I need to remind myself that a treat needs to be just that, a treat. Not something that is given out on a daily basis. If I examine the reasons why I’ve started giving out daily treats, I think it ties in with the fact that I’ve been more tired and spending less quality time with the kids. This in turn has made me feel guilty and therefore I let them have “treats”. Of course I can see how its all backfiring now.
I’m going to have a chat with Ally about her recent behavior and hopefully make some headway. Luckily she is mature and hopefully we’ll be able to turn this situation around.