This is Kathryn Jones, the Peaceful Parenting Coach with the message today, that giving them what they want isn’t the answer — and I’m going to tell you about that by telling you a story. Bit of an embarrassing story really, because I know better.
So my son — he’s six — is addicted to Pokemon cards because so are all the kids at school, and it’s this big thing about swapping cards and all this sort of thing. So he was nagging me and nagging me and nagging me, he wants more Pokemon cards. Eventually, I give in — we go to one of these cheap shops and we buy this big packet of Pokemon cards at a very cheap price because they’re probably from China or probably not real, but he doesn’t mind because he’s six. And he’s happy as Larry for about 5 minutes as he sorts through them.
Now, you might be thinking, well you know, Pokemon — that’s probably a frivolous sort of thing. And I tend to agree on some levels; but I have noticed that one, when he has the Pokemon cards he spends a lot of time sorting them out and organizing them — which is actually a very important developmental process for him at his age. That whole sorting and understanding groups and putting things into groups — very good. Also, they have numbers on them and based on the number they’re more powerful or something like that, so he’s been learning about less than and greater than, some real mathematical concepts.
And we were sitting in the car actually, and he was saying to me — and I realized later that it was Pokemon cards he was talking about — but he said to me:“Mummy, what’s 80 plus 80?”
“Okay. So if you add 100, that’s 260 right?”
“Okay, I’ve got two 50’s. If I put 50 and 50 together, that’s 100, right?”
“If I add 100 to 260, that’s 360, isn’t it?”
And I was quite amazed, because for a six-year-old, that’s actually quite complicated maths.
So, this certainly has been some intellectual benefit in this whole Pokemon craze; but what isn’t helpful is the whole thing around giving them what they want whenever they want. So the deal was, when we bought these Pokemon cards, that was it. That he wouldn’t ask for anymore, it wasn’t Eid, there wasn’t any particular reason why he should keep getting gift after gift after gift.
He agreed, “Yes, I won’t ask again.” But by the next day, he came home from school and he wanted Pokemon cards. And we had lots of listening through the tears and the tantrums, and I’m thinking, “Great, here we go.” The next day the same thing, the next day the same thing, and at this point, I actually should know what to do. And I will tell you what it is in a minute, but I was a bit sort of focused on work, a bit hectic at that time, and I wasn’t thinking straight. So by about day 3 or 4, it doesn’t matter, it’s only a few dollars, let’s just get him another packet.
Now, Einstein actually said, “A sign of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over expecting different results.” I don’t know why I thought by going and buying another packet, I would get a different result, but yeah, there you go. When we’re not thinking, things like that happen. We went and bought another packet. Same deal — that’s it, no more, we’re not doing anymore, that’s it, finished. He comes home, he’s happy for a while, sorts them all out, compares them with the ones he’s got, works out what he’s got duplicates for, gets excited about the high runs and high values and whatever — the e-x’s or whatever they’re called. The next day, we’re back again: “I want more Pokemon cards!” And we’re back to the crying and tantrums again. But I started to twig — that actually, it’s not about the Pokemon cards, it’s actually what he’s actually telling me all this time, right from the beginning even from the first packet of Pokemon cards.
Was it at the moment he’s a bit off-track and feeling a bit disconnected from me — which isn’t surprising, because as I said I was a bit preoccupied with the work stuff I was working on — and that he wants my attention? So we started this thing about having some pillow fights, some wrestling, some noodle fights after school each day, and you know what? Now, when we’re at home, he brings me the noodles and he goes, “It’s time for a wrestle,” or “It’s time for a fight now,” and we have some time fighting. I’m not talking about “fight” fighting; I’m talking about, you know, rough and tumble stuff that young kids really love and need. Lots of laughter, lots of fun, me being really silly. And you know what? I’m not quite sure how long it is, but it’s been a very long time since he asked for any more Pokemon cards.
The answer isn’t giving them what they want, and it’s not for the reasons you’re thinking; it’s because of what they actually want. And what you do need to give them is your warm, loving connection. That’s what they’re after, not the particular item, not the materialistic thing they’re talking about.
Actually, you do need to give them what they want, it’s just that they’re not articulating what it is. They’re telling you through some kind of materialistic object, that they need you. Stop what you’re doing, connect with your kids and have some fun; that’s all they want.
That’s it for me for now. All the best in parenting from a peaceful place inside.
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