Thursday, August 18, 2011

Shopping with the Bears

Someone recently complimented my kids's behavior during a trip to the store for household essentials:

"They are so good, they do not beg for things."  

After thanking the complimenter for taking the time to recognize my kids' good behavior (thanks, sweet sis-in-law for reminding me to thank and not defer such compliments), I reflected on what a treat their behavior is in this regard.  

It's not that my kids never ask for things while we are at the store.  However, as of yet, we have not had a problem with fussing or tantrums over requested items when I say we won't be buying them.  The kids enjoy showing me things they find attractive, and I enjoy sharing in their excitement and interest as well.  I love a good window shopping!  Even so, we very rarely make spontaneous purchases that are not on our list.

To what do I attribute this complimented behavior?  Since many good things come in threes (the Godhead, our kids, and the number of times I warmed my coffee in our new microwave this morning before getting to drink it  (thanks, MoMo for  convincing me to surrender the counterspace!)....), my reasoning on this issue will include three parts:

#1.  That's just how G-Bear and E-Bear are:  If it sounds parentally prideful to basically say my kids are "just that good by nature," know that by absolving myself from taking responsibility for this good behavior I also *at least partially* absolve myself from fault when their behavior is less desirable.  Hey, I gotta leave myself some slack for when the going gets tough.

#2.  The store is for things we need, rarely for things we want:  T and I try really hard to model the behavior for our kids that we expect them to adopt.  This goes for our family behavior at the store.  The kids rarely see T and I purchasing attractive but unnecessary items that we see at the store.  We often comment on things, window shop, or show one another something we like, but we rarely add it to the cart.  When I do add something to our cart and the kids ask me why we are getting it,  I explain that it is the needed, recognizable item from home that we have exhausted.   It's hard to get too revved up about adding toilet paper and laundry detergent to the cart.  I don't think I am giving my kids too much credit to say that they can tell the difference between something we need and something I (or they) want.

#3.  Delayed gratification works (sometimes), even with little kids:  T and I have developed a technique with the kids that has blessedly given us an additional tool in our arsenal when something really attractive is spotted.  This trick will probably not always work with our kids.  So, in the future, let this post serve as a reminder of sweet days gone by (which now can seem exhausting sometimes).  Hopefully this technique is laying a foundation of respect in our kids for delayed gratification. We'll see.  Our technique goes like this:  when the kids spy something really special at the store, we say "let's take a picture of it" to remember the item for a later time when we might be able to get it.  When T is around, he actually takes a picture with his phone of the kids holding the desired item.  Then he showed them the picture so they can see the record of the item.  When the kids and I are alone, since my phone doesn't take pictures (or if it does, I haven't a clue how to make it do that), I tell them I am taking a picture with my mind so I will be sure to remember.  The trick of this technique is that we actually HAVE gone back to the store to get items that we have told the kids to remember.  For instance, once when the kids needed new swimsuits, we had them pick out the ones they liked while at a store shopping for something else.  The next day, we reviewed the pictures we had taken on T's phone and returned to the store to get the suits.  Voila!   After a few episodes of similar occurrences, my kids know that a promise to "take a picture of it" is not just an empty cliche, yet neither is it a promise of gratification.

Today as I was "click, click, clicking" around the store with the kids, I took a moment to be extra thankful for them and their behavior.  May God grant us many happy (window) shopping trips in the future.

1 comment:

B-Mama said...

Brilliant idea about the picture-taking! We talk a lot about putting things on our "wish lists", but the boys are starting to catch onto me and say "why do we always have to use our wish lists?"!!! LOL. We may have to start working in some picture-taking. Love it. Way to go, bears!