Curing the Gimme Syndrome with Empathy
Before I reached the checkout counter, I knew what was going to happen. Picking up a few items for dinner at our local market on a Sunday afternoon, I noticed a five-year-old boy with his grandmother, both of them looking a little worse for wear.
The boy sported a Red Power Ranger suit with inflatable triangles along the top of the arm. Our little Power Ranger wore the dazed look of someone who has watched too much television, eaten too many candy bars and stayed up too late for too many nights in a row.
It was an unmistakable case of the Too-Too’s
The grocery cart held a bakery package of jack-o-lantern brownies along with two large bottles of orange soda. At the checkout counter, Mr. Power Ranger spied the bubblegum machine.
‘Grandma, I want some bubblegum.’
“No, sweetheart. No gum. You’ve had enough sweets. Plus we have these brownies you wanted.”
Not a good thing to say to a Power Ranger with the Too-Too’s. Instantaneous meltdown was inevitable.
“GRANDMA I WANT BUBBLEGUM. GIMME SOME MONEY.NOW.”
Grandma, much to her credit, finished paying and led her Power Ranger out by the hand.
With each opening of the automatic door, “BUT GRANDMA I WANT BUBBLEGUM” echoed through the store as this lad refused to get into the car.
I would not wish this for anyone.
As the holiday season for gift giving approaches, catalogs, commercials, and store displays compete for our children’s attention. The I-Wanna’s and the Gimme’s can make unexpected appearances.
To avoid situations where your child becomes a poster child for the Too-Too’s, I-Wanna’s or Gimme’s, take the following precautions. Need I remind you that these conditions are highly contagious?
Monitor your child’s environment
Eliminate or limit television viewing that includes excessive commercials for toys and other goodies. Avoid taking your children shopping if possible. If your child is tired or hungry, be careful to avoid situations that your child might be able to handle. With holiday schedules and activities, try to maintain a regular meal, snack and bed times. Provide non-sugary snacks, such as pretzels, veggies or holiday cookie cutter nut butter sandwiches.
Understand the limits of your role as a parent
Desiring or wishing for things is not necessarily a bad thing. Desire is the seed of motivation.
It is our job as parents to help our children learn how to become independent and have the skills to fulfill their own needs and wants. We can indirectly prepare our children for handling their desires by helping them understand our role as parents.
Our job is not to give our children everything that they express a desire in having
Our job is to teach our children to fulfill their own wishes and needs. We need to teach our children to choose carefully and understand they do have choices, and the responsibility for those choices.
Cultivate a family tradition of giving
When we help our children to think of other’s needs, we help them learn that there are more blessings in giving than receiving. Involve your three-year-olds and up in thinking of ideas for gifts for family members. Ask, “What do you think Granddad would like for his birthday? What is Aunt Suzie’s favorite color? What does Uncle Bob like to eat? What is your brother’s favorite activity?” Let your youngsters select cans of food for the food bank. Help your children purchase gifts for those in need. Bake cookies to take to neighbors.
Avoid or cure the gimme’s by keeping life as uncomplicated as possible, by understanding that your role as a parent is to develop independence, and by helping your child learn to give to others.