Monday, January 13, 2014

What to do With Kids Who Always Want, Plead, Beg or Demand

I was shopping for a child relative’s gift and was looking at items in the toy section of a large department store.  Near me were a mother and her son who appeared to be about seven.  He was pleading with her to buy him a toy he really wanted and the begging began to escalate in intensity.  In response to each request, her responses also increased in intensity as she would reply NO and then offer a reason.

Some of this mother’s reasons included: “we have no money,” “your father is on a business trip and he needed to take our extra money with him,” “you already have that kind of toy laying on your bedroom floor,” “you don’t play with what you have,” “I’m tired of buying you toys,” “you don’t appreciate what you have,” “your birthday is coming,” “stop asking for things,” and on and on and on.

Standing next to this drama and hearing it all play out was excruciating.  But deep inside of me was the natural urge to want to stop his pleading by doing exactly what this mother did next… she bought him the toy!  When kids keep demanding something and the parent is already stressed and tired, the natural urge is to yell and get angry, or give in to the child’s demands to stop the noise.  Here are two things you can do to curb the “I want that” demands.

SET UP A MONEY MANAGEMENT PROCESS.  Taking a look at this problem from the child’s perspective; they have little or no control over spending money and you have given in to their requests in the past.  The solution is to set up a money saving/spending plan that they can control.  See how to do this by typing the following link into your Internet browser window and watching a short video 

Whenever you take your child shopping with you, allow him/her to take whatever they have in the ‘spending’ envelope to buy something.  Your responsibilities are to help them set up this system, ensure that it is maintained (supervise it in the beginning) and to approve what they spend it on.

HELP YOUR CHILD CREATE A DREAM BOOK.  Buy your child a composition book (black and white cover and what we used in school) that you can find in the office supply isle of most department or convenience stores.  Tell your child that this is going to be his/her ‘dream book’ where he/she can record all of the things he/she desires.  Encourage your child to draw pictures of what they want or cut out pictures from magazines and fliers to paste into the new dream book. 

When your child sees something a friend has or in a television commercial, you simply say “put it in your dream book.”  You are not responsible for fulfilling their dreams, your job is to teach them HOW to dream.  With the holidays upon us, now is a good time to implement some changes to keep the “I WANT IT” demands from overwhelming you.

Finally, avoid arguing with your child and certainly don’t give in.  Doing so reinforces the behavior (demanding) that drives you crazy.  When they ask for something you’re not willing to provide, tell them that and don’t use the word NO.  Simply say one time, “I’m not willing to buy that today,” and nothing more.  Avoid giving excuses if you know they aren’t going to accept them.  Saying NO seems to move them to demand even more.

Bill Corbett has a degree in clinical psychology and is the author of the award winning book “Love, Limits, & Lessons: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Cooperative Kids,” in English and in Spanish.  He has three grown children, two grandchildren, three step children and lives with his family in Connecticut.  You can visit his Web site for further information and parenting advice, or his professional page at

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