From toddler to teen, and many times beyond, we are weary of hearing "I want." These precious grandchildren we've taken in don't understand that we're hemorrhaging money some of us don't have, many of us taking on part- or full-time jobs to support a second generation family.
And yet, think about it. From the time a baby is born all they have to do is let out a wail and we’re right there beside them with a bottle, a toy, or trying to soothe them.
Around a year-old a child begins to try and form words and, when we don’t understand what they want, we ask, “What do you want?” or “Show me what you want.”
Our heart rate speeds up and, in panic mode, we try to understand what they want RIGHT NOW!
They learn very quickly the more aggressive, the louder they cry, the quicker these miniature warriors get what they want.
BABY STEPS: TRANSITIONING FROM “I WANT” TO “PLEASE.”
The other day I told my three-year-old to pick up his toys. He responded, “I’m busy. Not now.”
Smiling, I responded, “Okay. You do it when you’re not busy.”
He’s heard me say this a million times. Mimicking me, however, made me realize he “gets it” more than I’ve given him credit for.
Begin early transitioning from an “I want” to a “Please.” When Luke shouts, “I want,” I tell him, “No, I will not get you what you want unless you say….” I also add many times that I can't do what he wants right now. I will not do anything until he says, “Please,” or “help me.” Manners are good and respecting other's time is not an innate God-given instinct.
It seems to be during the most inopportune times when our hands are covered in suds or we’re about to step into a shower when we hear the first, “I want.” The parent who deals wisely and firmly with a bold request will experience more peace in the short and long run.
It is through patience, tolerance, and OUR will power we will succeed in helping our grandchildren understand that a simple please is worth its weight in gold. And, believe me, no one else will teach him but us. We're it.
When a baby becomes a toddler is the opportune time to start the transition on how to make "I wants" magically happen.
THE LONG FORGOTTEN PIGGY BANK
Anymore, Iarely do i hear anyone talk about a piggy bank. I had one and was able to shake the bank and know piggy was getting fuller and fuller. Explaining how a piggy bank works can start as early as age four or five, depending on when a child is able to understand the concept of saving.
Does that mean they’ll be able to buy a toy by themselves with just quarters? No. It’s a sharing-type-of-deal where, yes, we will pay the bulk but they will begin to learn the value of saving.
However, if you hesitate on saying no from participating in buying something you cannot afford and say, "I'll think about it," you might as well just say yes as you're about to enter the torture zone. To children "I'll think about it" is a yes and there's no way you will escape a trap from which there is no way out.
There’s a dual purpose telling a child that if they do a certain chore you’ll pay, not give, but pay them a quarter. First, they’re saving for something they'll be able to say they helped pay for which builds self esteem, and second, they learn to make choices.
As we know, two days after they say they just HAVE to have THIS changes to they have to have THAT. And now Instead of roller skates they are focused on a clown that lights up, cooks hot dogs, and does card tricks.
Start with a chart. I know. I know. This woman has the audacity to tell me make a chart when I'm comatose by the end of the day and fall asleep upright sipping a glass of wine? When is there time to make a chart?
Bear with me here. It can be as simple as using notebook paper and writing at the top: Goal: $5.00. List only one thing on the chart they can do to make a quarter. It could be as simple as taking the garbage out, or reading a book to their little sister. But only start with one task and add another AFTER they complete the first one and are paid in full. : )
Unless it’s mopping the floor from one end of the house to the other keep it at a quarter. Keep it simple so your child won’t burn out.
Once they've complete the work and you've given them their wages have them put a check mark after the job. This will save you from them coming back and saying you never paid them. A check is only done AFTER you pay them. Manipulation begins early.
Don’t let them get away with dragging a bag across across the floor as it seeps out coffee grounds or leaves behind a banana peel. They don't have to do everything perfectly but they do need to be responsible enough to not add on extra work for you.
Explain beforehand what you expect so there is no misunderstanding. Too many children are sent out into the world thinking all they have to do i show up at a job and they'll get paid. If an employee doesn't repeatedly say “have a nice day” at McDonald'r they won't be there long. Set the goal and stick to it.
The downside is that they may feel that with you by their side there is nothing they can't buy. So with this concept comes an explanation that no one can have everything they want all the time. If this isn’t explained as you continue on with then the piggy bank theory is of no use.
This takes us into the next transition.
IF IT AIN’T BROKEN, YOU CAN FIND IT.
Explaining to your grands that we cannot afford an expensive bike they want breaks our hearts. So we need to stay ahead of the game and start looking for those gently used toys and expensive bikes that don’t have 50 miles on them and have been traded in for a new model and put up for sale. Does this really happen? All the time.
Here is the site on Facebook. The URL I listed is for toddlers but there all ages and stages of wants are listed. Plugin where you live and how many miles you’re willing to drive to purchase something at a fraction of the price. Here's one http://www.thredup.com/r/ZW4OYS
Except for pajamas and shoes, I purchase most of Luke’s wardrobe here https://www.swap.com/. I have never been disappointed and I’ve been a customer since he was born. And, believe me, I’m one picky Nana as I want Luke to look cool, but snappy.
Having a child browse through used toy listings may very well be a win/win deal. They might not find exactly what they want but, like us, children are fickle when the eye catches something pleasing and their minds are quickly changed.
It never hurts anyone, including our young troopers, to discover bargain shopping.
EVERYONE HAS ONE BUT ME!
Okay, we’ve been through this battle before. Don't tell yourself you're too old to go through this again. We're older, yes, but we have a lot of life-wisdom. And wisdom trumps age.
Remember when we used to say, “no, not everyone has what you want?” And remember that didn’t work? Neither did, “When I was your age I wanted xxxx sooo bad but my dad told me I couldn’t have it because we couldn’t afford it. Save your energy. They don't want to hear about your woes.
Kids aren't into empathy. They're into themselves; period. And they can't comprehend that you don't have the funds to support their wants.
Grab your ankles, hold your breath, and stay strong as dealing with an angry teenager is likened to fighting the biggest, meanest pit bull put on earth. They're relentless and so must we be.
I admit I was not a good teacher in this area for my sons. But I've learned. And if we don’t learn from mistakes we’re bound to set free yet another man- or woman/child who doesn’t have a clue that not only money doesn't grow on trees but will never grow without self-control.
PAY YOURSELF FIRST.
The concept of paying yourself first mean putting funds into a percentage match savings plan with the company you work for or opting to put a portion of your paycheck into an IRA before taxes. It’s not about buying that leather coat you've been eyeing for months without first paying creditors, putting a tank of gas in your car, or having enough food in the house until you receive your next paycheck.
Most young people are lucky if they have a few dollars to to buy a beer and a burger the day after their paycheck arrives. It’s an age-old story that comes with learning how to budget.
Your grandchild is in their teens, they're working part-time while going to school and now have a car and they’re maybe making payments to you which, in turn, you pay the creditor who holds the title.
Cool deal. Right? Frees up time and commitment?
Three months into the “deal” they say, “I can’t pay. I’m sorry.” Ummm, no, that's not going to fly. Before the car was purchased you sat down together, looked at the numbers and decided together that yes, your grandchild could make the payment, plus pay insurance, and oil changes.
SPOILER: Do not sign your name to a document for anything unless you have enough funds that will cover the payment a couple or three times. Trust me on this one.
You've done your due diligence, informed them you’re not going to fill up their gas tank if they don't have the funds..Now what? It's clear they paid themselves first and I don't mean by putting money into an IRA and decided to the car payment go by the wayside thinking you’re going to cover them.
Take the car away and let them figure out how to get around. Not only are they now a month behind but you deliver the news that in addition to the payment you will be adding on more until they've made up for your loss. He/ she might have to pick up a couple of extra shift on a weekend to do this but hey, that's not your problem.
Do you have to drive them everywhere? Nope. Coming from my own experience as an enabling parent the biggest lesson is not to suffer the consequences because of someone else's choice.
Allow your grandchild to become responsible no matter how many slammed doors and angry outbursts. We are in their lives to do what we say. We are role models, not babysitters.
Have you ever borrowed money from your parents? A friend? From the day you’re handed that money a relationship usually goes south. I did it ONCE. I was one day late on a payment only once and I received a call from a very angry mother. One day? Please.
But here’s the deal. She was right. We made a gentlewoman’s agreement and I reneged. But it wasn’t until years later I realized it didn't matter if she was in a better financial position that I was, a deal is a deal.
The bottom line is that it’s up to us to teach, guide, and raise our grandchildren to become responsible adults.
And it all begins with just one toy.
Please join as at Grandparents United at https://www.facebook.com/groups/grandsunite/ as we join together to nurture, support, share our stories, and ask for and offering valuable suggestions.
I would enjoy hearing your thoughts and any insights on our next journey in life.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
or on my contact page at https://www.kimberlyshursen.com/