Also, parents sometimes try to compensate for the lack of time they give their children by indulging them with material things. This is an issue for the parent to deal with. It is an unhealthy practice and parents
need to realize that giving in to a child’s material demands can in no way substitute quality time spent with the child.
What are the parental actions and reactions that lead children to believe that pestering works?
As I said earlier, parents would like to be perceived by others as being in control of a situation, especially when it is with regard to their children. And most often, they are. But this is possible only if the parent is
able to be firm and wait out the tantrum or the persistent nagging. At home, children are effectively disciplined for negative behaviour by the parent raising his voice or perhaps by the parent ignoring the child. But to avoid attracting attention in public, parents have to resort to flustered looks and whispered threats; these are no match to the ‘drama’ created by the pestering child. And children are quick to recognise this power and take advantage of the situation. Hence, the term ‘pester power’!
Why should the parent not give in to pester power?
It is important for parents to recognise that they are encouraging unhealthy patterns in their child. Pestering is basically a form of manipulation and by giving in to it, we are encouraging the child to use negative means to achieve his ends. Children should learn healthy means of communication: to
ask for things in a polite and reasonable manner and definitely to respect “no” for an answer even if they may feel disappointed.
Is it alright for the parent to give in sometimes, or will this encourage the behaviour?
Parents need to learn to be firm in their decisions irrespective of the situation. If the parent feels that the child is making an unreasonable demand, he should be strong enough to stick to this decision. Consistency is key to this disciplining process. Nagging, whining, tantrums and any form of pestering should not be encouraged. If a parent gives in to this behaviour occasionally, the child realizes that this behaviour can work to his advantage.
How should parents handle these situations without losing their cool:
(a) While buying a gift for another child’s birthday, and your child also wants a toy (b) While grocery shopping, when your child wants
to buy chocolate or cookies and eat
• Do not buy your child an expensive toy or promise him that you will buy it for him later. He will never forget! Do explain to your child that it is not his birthday, but his friend’s and remind him that he will get gifts of his choice for his birthday.
• Do not buy food items that you find unreasonably expensive or unhealthy. • Do not drag your whining child around the store. Cut short your shopping trip if required.
• Allow him to choose snack that you approve of on the condition that he eats it after his next meal.
• If you do not approve of store bought cookies, guide him to his favourite fruits and distract him.
• Do talk him into helping you bake his cookies at home.
• It is possible that he is looking for the sugar hit if he is hungry. If so, buy him a snack/ drink that is acceptable to both of you.