My son came up to me yesterday afternoon and asked to be taken to the store to get a new cap gun. He and his stepbrothers have been playing with those old revolver-style cap guns…you know, the kind with the red ring of caps with about a 50 percent success rate.
I asked what was wrong with the ones they had, and he said they did not work quite as well as they could, so he wanted to get new ones – immediately.
We did not go to get new cap guns, and the boys continued playing Quick Draw McGraw and other made up games in the back yard. They had plenty of fun with what they had.
So, I wondered what made him feel the need to stop playing, go to the store, spend money, and buy new cap guns as soon as the current arsenal did not perform perfectly.
I suppose I have contributed to his attitude. Thinking back, I have become impatient and impulsive with purchases. He has watched me hop in the car, drive to Best Buy, and get something I wanted (whether I needed it immediately or not).
Maybe the culture of immediate gratification has contributed. Fast food is not fast enough. Amazon Prime delivery is great…but when they do same-day deliver, it is even better.
So, his request yesterday got me thinking about how to temper this need for immediate gratification.
You may have your own strategies for this, but two ideas came to mind:
- Express gratitude. If you get into the habit (and Thanksgiving is a perfect excuse to begin this practice) of writing down a couple things you are grateful for, you shift your thinking and get into the habit of seeing what you have rather than what you want. Researchers have looked at the practice of gratitude and find neurological benefits. This article is one of many you can find on the subject.
- Make a list and a plan for what you want and how you will get it. Empower your kids by encouraging them to make a “want” list (which can also be helpful come time to pick out a birthday gift). But, ask them to prioritize their wants and ask them to come up with a plan about how they will get what they want. It may involve…heaven forbid…saving up money. It may involve doing extra chores. But it will certainly involve waiting and anticipating.
How do you train your kids to be patient? Do you model patience or immediate gratification?