Do you know about the Culture of More? This is a culture where More is never Enough. Every possession presents a problem which could, apparently, be rectified by the addition of another possession. If having one of something is good, then having two is better, having six is desirable, and not having at least ten results in sadness and despondency.
I'm not sure which I hate more: The Culture of More or Candy Culture.
At least with the Candy Culture I was able to feel completely self-righteous because it is the OTHER adult in our house who brings home candy. But when it comes to The Culture of More, I have only myself to blame.
Yes, you read that correctly: I created The Culture of More which my daughter is so dependent on. This, in spite of my constant attempt to bring less of everything into this house. I created a situation where my daughter feels loved when she receives a gift and the more she gets from her parents the more she wants to feel the love so the more she asks for more. Did you follow that?
So how do I solve this? How do I get my daughter to stop asking for more (stuffed animals, Littlest Pet Shops, My Little Ponies, books, markers, crayons, stickers, Barbies, DVDs) all day, every day?
The short answer is: Stop buying her stuff.
That would be the wrong answer.
If my daughter feels loved when her parents give her gifts then the solution is to make her feel loved in other ways. The goal is not to change her behaviour. The goal is to strengthen the relationship.
- Offer unconditional acceptance. Even if I am sick to death of hearing my daughter ask for more stuff, I have to show her that SHE is more important than her behaviour. I must hold back my critical words and instead, show her by word and by gesture, that my relationship with her is safe. Her worth and importance to me must always be in evidence. LESSON: Listen more, talk less.
- Seize every opportunity. Whenever my daughter is engaged in enjoying her world, I must make eye contact and smile so that she sees the warmth and pleasure I am offering. If possible, offer physical contact. Touch is such a valuable way of showing love and too often an older child will get less because the younger child demands so much hands-on attention. The hunger for physical contact never goes away. LESSON: More hugs.
- Give lots of space. I must accept that my daughter is sensitive to coercion or being bossed around. She requires acknowledgement of herself as a separate person. I must put away any anger, frustration or force. To be an individual is to have one's own meanings, ideas and boundaries. I must delight in who she is in this moment. LESSON: More respect.
- Surprise her with love. It is not enough to just meet her needs as she expresses them. I must show her the value of our relationship by initiating attention, affection and recognition. I must seize the moment and invite contact when she is not expecting it. LESSON: Love more freely.
Because if the relationship isn't the priority, then what is?
When one of your children behaves in a way that brings out your frustration, how do YOU reconnect?