Teaching kids self control at a toy store

Apr 24, 2018

Yesterday afternoon we were happily playing in the park as a family, when I remembered that I needed some chewing toys for little Zara that is now 4 1/2 months old. I then also remembered that Toys R Us is closing forever and that it might be a good opportunity for the kids and I to go and check out some last minute sale if anything was even left. We finished up playing and walked home. The kids got their money jars and we headed to the store.

Coming in there were lots of banners urging to buy and come back often before it’s all gone. Needless to say my kids ran inside as fast as they could. I already felt coming in that I needed to teach my kids about the world of marketing and to learn to control the urge that is often created by this world to buy because it will make us happy. I knew that if the opportunity presented it self and we had found a toy I knew they loved for a dirt cheap price we were going to get it. See my kids usually don’t really request very many toys. They don’t really even play with them. Dorian, our 2 year old has been the only child that has loved cars and airplanes the most. Davide finally started showing some interest in toys when he discovered legos. For a long time I almost thought that there might be something wrong with him because he never really liked to sit the and play with toys. Siena will play with anything that she can find around the home. When they were little, we were the ones that bought all their toys and started their toy collection. For a while I was the one that wanted it all for them. Every childhood toy that I had and never had. Then I realized that my kids didn’t care and were started doing some deep cleaning around the house. I remember one time I even asked my kids to help me and I couldn’t believe it myself that they were so eager to donate toys that I thought would have been their most precious possessions.

I do realize at times that a big reason why they also don’t desire for many toys has been due to the fact that we don’t really watch tv at home, and if so we don’t have cable so they are not exposed to commercials. I did watch a lot commercials growing up and I can now tell that a lot of my favorite brands and toys have been influenced by my childhood memories of me watching those commercials, or simply because it would be placed first hand at the grocery store for me to find.

So we went inside of Toys R Us yesterday. Needless to say that most things were 5-10% off only. Others were completely excluded. I have learned over the years to be more minimalist and only shop for a purpose. 1. Because I have just finished spending a year getting rid of junk and I never want to accumulate it again 2. Because I like to save my money for things that I truly love!

My new motto lately has been buy 1 really good one that you really love!!!

My kids have not been trained in all of this. So they would often say, check out this cute swing, check out this chair for Zara, or Oh! Look at this car seat! I found that extremely cute, but in the moment all I could say was, “I love it, but we don’t need it right now!” Then there came the toy section. I am an adult and I felt so exhausted. I have never seen so much merchandise. Dorian just kept asking me to pass him toys. Which I did. I have learned that a lot of times if I can let my child watch and touch a toy while at the store, by the time we get to the cash register he is ready to hand it off to the employee and completely forget about it. After a while though I had to tell him that I couldn’t hand him any more toys because he would have stepped on them and broken some.

Davide went straight to the lego isle and found something that he liked. I then had to remind him that I wanted him to have it, but since the sale would have barely covered the taxes (5% off) we were going to go back to his original goal that we have had all along. (We establish which months of the years he can buy legos, which lego set he loves, and he saves up for it.)
Siena instead never really picked something up, until I said that since we hadn’t really found anything we were going to leave, she saw one toy that she had heard someone mention at school and said, “I found something, this one!”

We did not end up buying it. I told them that we would all go to the car and take some time to talk. I have been learning lately that when you are in the middle of a battle field and emotions are high nothing gets solved. Battlefield being a giant store with toys and visual stimuli that would make anyone want to crack.

I’ll be honest, I felt really bad for them. Because I know what it means for me as an adult to be at a dessert shop, or when I go on a shopping spree. I want it all. I want to run and just buy. I want to come home and look in the mirror and admire my new shiny little trinkets. But I have learned lately that those stimuli go away if I walk away and take the time to think things through. If I set patterns and systems to help me make better decisions.

We aren’t necessarily placed in the position to make the best of decisions at times. Mastering our emotions and urges has been made harder than ever nowadays. We live in a world with so much permissiveness that at times we may feel like we are the only ones left trying to do the right thing.

Yesterday at that store I actually felt myself remembering how many times in my own life I have failed at exerting the right amount of self control and I felt those words coming right back at me with a flash back of another event even recently when I left some impulsed spur of the moment make me make some poor decision.

We ended resuming at home that night. We did purchase some much needed sippy cups for Dorian and Zara. Davide knew that his goal was to get Legos later this year so he was fine, Dorian got to play with toys at the store. I was visually exhausted from the million of objects that I saw and from talking calmly to my kids. Honestly, some days it would almost seem easier to just yell than to explain all this. But like they say, You will thank yourself for choosing the right. And so yes, I can thank myself for that today.

Last, but not least it was my poor little Siena. She felt sad she didn’t buy anything. So we talked about all of this together, and I brought her back to her vision and her own goals. I know what her true goals are, she wants a make up desk and a play kitchen. She wants a pink bedroom. So I reminded her it wasn’t worth to settle for a so so toy in the moment. And then I brought them back to how they felt when we were at the park. we didn’t wake up thinking we were going to Toys R Us that day, we didn’t think we needed anything, we went to check out if they had some dirt cheap deal on some toys, but they didn’t.

It was extremely tempting to divert and make ourselves happy in the moment by possibly buying something visually appeasing just to satisfy an urge, but it wasn’t worth it. But we could resume our day being happy just like we were when we were at the park, and keep our eyes on the true price.

To say I learn so much from my kids everyday is an understatement. I have been trying to record all these teachings because I need them! Because my kids in the end listened to me and to what I explained to them. I know it is my turn now to listen to God a bit more, and hopefully I can be better at resisting the daily urges a bit more too. All in moderation though! I am not saying we can’t ever have anything.

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Serena Essuman


Serena Essuman

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