In the mail today I received a story from a guy about the lessons to be learned in “waiting”. His name is John Mooy and he has written several children’s books – with his wife Wendy Halperin – as the illustrator. Google them – her art is beautiful. The story is lovely, and it got me thinking. When we as parents, put the “wait” back into “want” we enhance the payoff for our kids. Waiting allows our children to savor the acquisition and experience anticipation. Waiting teaches patience. Waiting allows you to change your mind – maybe even dream bigger than that cheap plastic toy kids buy when they feel the need to spend and experience the high of instant gratification.
One very powerful way to help our children learn the valuable lessons of waiting is to say “no” to their many requests. Saying “no” gives them the opportunity to creatively plan how to accomplish the request on their own. As they plan, they may even change their mind about what they wanted in the first place. Possibly, they (and you) will discover they really did not want it anyway.
I was in Florida recently with my daughter Amanda and her best friend Annika – to attend my niece’s wedding. It was a Disney wedding – they both work there. Amanda and Annika – both 14, watched all the little girls get the princess treatment and commented that they too would like to be a princess. We were in a gift shop on the property and they both spotted princess dresses their size. They asked if they could try them on and I said sure. Right outside the dressing rooms were three sets of grandparent-age couples watching this all take place.
The girls came out and twirled around with big smiles on their faces. They asked me if they could have the dresses to keep. I said no. It was hard – but I said no. I knew it was insane to even think about indulging this whim – but it was still a struggle to say no. As the girls were changing back into their clothes, one of the grandmothers approached me and said “congratulations.” I asked her what she meant, and she explained that it was my job to say no, and she was proud of me that I did. How about that!
As the girls came out, they came over to where I was standing with the grandmother. I looked at Amanda and asked her if she really wanted the dress. Sensing I might be ready to cave, she said, “Oh yes!” Then I asked if she wanted it enough to pay for it with her own money. She looked at me as if I was crazy and said “no way!”
So, my advice to you parents is put the wait back into want by saying “no” more than once in awhile. Your kids will learn the pleasure of anticipation and the skill of patience— all important in the ability to delay gratification and manage the money in their lives wisely.