When your child pesters, do not scold. Be firm, but not harsh. Express your understanding of your child’s feelings: “Yes, sometimes when we see something interesting or attractive, we want it badly, but we do not buy everything that we want.” Verbalising your child’s feelings helps him deal with feelings of
When you and your child are relaxed and at home, talk to your child about wanting something, about buying, how sometimes it is not about the number of toys but about favourite ones, then refer back to the conversation when your child has trouble resisting impulse buys.
Talk to other adults (like grandparents) and agree on certain dos and don’ts– so that they do not encourage pestering as much as you discourage it!
Set an example; when you go out shopping, try not to do impulse buying yourself.
Make some ground rules as to how many books and toys can be bought for the child in a month. Remind him of these limits whenever he asks for something.
Encourage your child to make a wish list: Every time you go out shopping and your child asks for something, tell him to add it to his wish list at home. Choosing from a wish list (for a birthday gift or a festival gift) will teach him the difference between must-haves and nice-to-haves.
If your child sees something he wants really badly at a shop, then place yourself in his shoes, be fascinated by it, and explore with him. Then place it back on the shelf.
Inputs of an Expert
Arati Deviah works as a counsellor primarily with children with behavioural and emotional issues. She has been a rehabilitation therapist at an early intervention centre and also a movement therapist with special needs children.
We see instances of pestering or demanding behaviour by children outside the home at malls, supermarkets etc. What do you think is the root cause of this behaviour? At what age do children begin pestering?
Children as young as two years old are usually aware of how they are expected to behave in different social situations. While at home, a parent may be more tolerant of raised voices or whining, the situation is very different in a public place like a mall or supermarket. Parents feel pressured to have their children behave well. Raised voices, whining, crying, or any kind of a tantrum is embarrassing in public.
The child quickly figures out the parent’s inability to deal with him firmly or effectively in public. He knows that there is a strong likelihood that the parents will give in to his demands, rather than have
him ‘create a scene in public’.