Miss N has been in a funk the last few days. I have been praying for insight about what it is and how I can help her out of it. Not sure I have found it yet, but we made some progress this morning and I learned something in the process.
Today everything came to a head. We were in Target. I made it clear what we were doing at Target and that we were not buying any toys. Things were going well until we got to the checkout, where a beautiful princess Barbie was on display. Miss N decided she wanted it. I explained that I had not brought money for toys today, and she started whining and complaining. “You never buy me anything, I don’t want earrings (we were headed to the mall to buy them for her newly pierced ears). I just want this Barbie. She’s so pretty and I want her so bad!” You get the idea.
To her credit, she was not throwing a fit. In fact, to others her behavior may have been “normal” or just a “phase,” but I am trying to teach her to be content with what she has and to not constantly ask for things she does not need. It is a lesson mommy needs to learn too sometimes.
As we walked back to the car I launched into lecture mode. Even though I know this is ineffective, I still do it sometimes. I even pulled the whole, “there are children in the world whose parents cannot buy them toys, and there are even children who do not have parents! You should be thankful for the nice things they have.”
She didn’t believe me. Apparently we need to do more talking about orphans and adoption.
The lecture was ineffective, but when we started driving to our next stop, I decided on a different tactic. “Miss N, tell me 5 things you are thankful for, and one cannot be a toy.” I didn’t even talk about the Barbie or the previous lecture. I think she thought I was changing the subject.
She came up with seven.
And instantly, her attitude, demeanor, and tone of voice changed. We then tried to help Miss M do the activity, but she had some trouble.
After that, the Barbie was forgotten, the foul mood of the morning was fixed, and we had a lovely morning out as a family.
The “Put off, put on” principle taught in the Bible is something I am finding my children struggle to comprehend. I am deciding that my job, as a parent, is to help them do this without actually realizing they are doing it. By asking her what she was thankful for, I was able to change her thinking from what she didn’t have (the Barbie) to what she did have, without any negative speech on my part.
I’m going to have to tuck this one into my bag of tricks.
But, I have to be careful. The other day I was trying to get her to stop thinking about something that Miss M had that she didn’t and how unfair that was, and I told her, “There are plenty of things you have that your sister does not have because you are five and she is two.” This launched into plenty of boasting. “Miss M, I have this bracelet and you-u-u- don’t.” Oops. Perhaps I should have phrased that one differently.