I take my two-year-old son to his grandparents every weekend. They pamper him by giving him chocolates and toys, which he demands from us, too, when he comes back home. It’s not that we can’t afford it, but I think it’s not good for him to demand something and get it instantly. I can’t stop my in-laws from pampering him, either. How should I deal with this situation?
Your son is too young to understand why he can’t be indulged all the time. When he is older, you can make the distinction and explain why it’s okay to be indulged by grandparents for weekends, but not on an everyday basis. Right now, you (preferably your spouse) will have to explain to the grandparents that they need to pamper him in ways that do not involve foodstuff and toys. There are many things grandparents can do—from chatting or playing with him to telling him stories—which will not confuse the child when he returns to his parents. It’s not just grandparents but we, too, and our kids’ uncles and aunts, godparents and fond neighbours, who need to relearn that the good things in life are free. Over the years, the emphasis has shifted to entertainment that money can buy: vacations, camps, sportsgear, toys, clothes, special classes, etc.
A parent recently mentioned how, when he was taking his son Ninad out for a short drive, the six-year-old asked, “Taken your wallet?” Our children are growing up with the notion that no fun can be had without an exchange of money. After this incident, Ninad’s parents decided that they would do a weekly outing when the wallet would be forgotten at home.
It takes only a little extra effort to come up with fun trips or activities that do not involve spending money. Consider these:
1) Every season, your city has some tree or the other in bloom. Walk down to the nearest one with your child and fill a whole basket with flowers, or seeds and seed-pods shed on the ground. You’ll be surprised how engrossed a child can get in this activity.
2) Take a walk up a low hill or along the seashore with your kids and collect stones or shells. Come home, scrub them clean with your kids and watch them sparkle in a tray or an artistic pile at the entrance to your home. Again, absolutely free.
3) Involve your kid in any minor repair/maintenance work you’re doing on your vehicle, instrument, or any part of your home, even if it’s something as simple as oiling the hinges of a creaky door. Plan for it with enthusiasm and it won’t be a chore, but a fun activity, full of unspoken lessons.
4) Revive indoor games, such as good old carom and chess.
5) Involve your child in gardening—even a little windowsill garden fascinates every child.
6) Get a good storyteller to narrate tales to your kids.
7) Draw your child into cooking/baking.
Of course, all this assumes that as a parent, grandparent or godparent, you are willing to invest more complex resources than money in your child: time, energy and imagination. It also assumes that you yourself do not always need the props and distractions of shops, technology and merchandise to engage you with the world.
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