Kids In The Land Of Plenty

gimmes

Did you read the Berenstain Bears books when you were a kid? I did and I remember the book “The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies” as one that we frequently enjoyed reading in our family. Now I know why my parents bought it and likely encouraged us to read it so often! Kids with a case of  the “galloping gimmies” are quite a challenge!

I think much of our current struggle is due to culture shock after just arriving in the US, but wow, going into any store with my daughter right now (3 1/2 yrs old) is pretty much a recipe for disasters. EVERYTHING seems to be marketed to children with some sort of cartoon character, free toy, or balloon attached. We have faced drama like I have never experienced before. If you are like me, when on the field you likely daydream about trips with your kids to the big American grocery store where you could get anything and everything that you could want. This new dimension of constant whining and near-tantrum melt downs is enough to make me long for the day that we get back to Russia and can shop again in stores that are a bit more tantrum-resistant!

Being that my kids are little, this is uncharted territory for me. We are trying to strike a balance of enjoying some of the advantages of being where we are, but also teaching values such as contentment and delayed gratification (we can’t ride the merry-go-round at the mall today, but we can come back and ride it another day), etc. Unfortunately it is more difficult than it sounds to try to help your toddler understand that just because there is a life-sized cardboard cut-out of Buzz Lightyear offering her a box of cookies at her own level doesn’t mean those cookies are actually for her.

Ok expert moms (and moms who along with me are enduring this for the first time), please share your advice, even if it is just to say to suck it up, hold onto what is reasonable, and endure the tantrums! It would be fun to hear from your experiences and wisdom!

Here are a few online articles that came up on Parenting.com that are related.  There were some good ideas in both articles.

I Waaaant It!

No More Whining!

Also, I am planning to go back and go through the book  “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” , as I know it talks about the whole issue of whining and goes in depth about addressing the heart issues behind such behavioral challenges. Has anyone else read this book? I think it’s great!

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4 Responses to “Kids In The Land Of Plenty”


  1. 1 Bethany May 7, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Elijah is approaching his 1 yr. birthday, so I am not too worried about him having the gimmies when we go back next month. I am actually worried about myself! It’s so strange. I love living without while in Malawi and feel as though I have learned the difference between wants and needs. However, I know that once I step foot into a big red Target, I will be begging my husband for sunglasses, shoes and lip gloss…I need to pray that God will prepare my heart for our time back in the States. I want to be a good example for Elijah.

  2. 2 Becka May 7, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    In our family we do two things. First we (and we do this for us as parents because let’s face it, kids catch the “gimmies” from the adults in their lives), focus ourselves on giving to others. We have a catalog from Sameritan’s purse available just for these times.

    The second thing we do is have a “rice fast”. I wrote about this on my home blog:

    http://toasty-toes.blogspot.com/2008/11/day-to-be-grateful.html

    I hope it helps you.

  3. 3 alatvala May 7, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Bethany, how fun that you’ll be in Seattle when we are! I hope I get the chance to meet you! It is so true about our own “gimmie” nature too! We’re still living out of bags and burdened by our stuff, but I know I will need to watch out once we are settled and have places to put things!

    Becka, what great ideas. I love them! They are wonderfully helpful and I look forward to trying them. I’ll have to get Sameritan’s Purse catalog and I know that there is also a good one from World Vision too.

  4. 4 Richelle Wright May 9, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    We just lived and survived the gimmies when I went home with my 2 year old, 4 year old and 11 year old – and I tend to use a different approach with different ages and different personalities. So, here are a few things of the successful things I’ve tried:
    1) Gently redirecting attention – not on getting the cookies but “What is your favorite color on that Buzz Light year poster?” “Do you and Buzz have the same favorite type of cookie?” “Look! There is the next thing on Mama’s list. Can you walk over there, gently pick it up and then I’ll help you put it in the cart.” …that type of thing. If I keep a running dialogue going with the kids and interact with them, then they don’t always have times.
    2) If a tantrum starts, we leave immediately, go home and there is appropriate discipline.
    3) I have kids help me plan menus and make the grocery list so that they know what they are looking for… usually including something of their choice so they know that with good behavior a built in “gimmie” is already included.
    4) Shopping with Mama is a privilege that you can loose if your store behavior is not acceptable – and we discuss what I to expect before we get in the car. This works for me now b/c I’ve got biggers that can stay home with the littlers…
    5) Make a teaching moment – Why do you want that? What would you do with it? Do you think getting that would make you happy for very long? What could be a better choice to make you happy? What do you think Jesus would want you to do? etc.

    In my experience the worst time for this is that 3-5 age group, depending on the personality of the child. My current 4 year old is super enthusiastic and impulsive about EVERYTHING – so even though he was pretty good about this by the end of our recent medical leave, I’m thinking we’ll have to fight the battle again when we go on furlough this summer. I’ve also found that with time, I get less “frazzled” when my child starts to act in such a way in public. If they sense that they are making you uncomfortable, they push even harder….


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