If you’ve been parenting your children for more than a few minutes you already know that “Everyone has it” means that someone has it. How do we respond to our children when they try to guilt us about how they are the only ones in their class or camp group that does not have a certain item or who isn’t allowed to do a certain activity?
Clarify Your Values
First, get clear about the actual lifestyle you want your family to have. Make sure to choose schools and camps that match the lifestyle that you are looking for your family and your children. All too often parents say that 95 percent of the children in their kids’ classes do or have a certain thing that they as parents are totally against. If that is the case, parents can rethink whether the school is a good fit for their family. If not, although it is not easy, your best bet is to find a different setting that matches the value system of their home. With an open mind, you will see that there are many schools to choose from these days.
Once you are comfortable with the lifestyle of MOST of the school’s population, recognize that you will be saying no to things that other parents say yes to. The healthiest way to go is to never judge the other parents, and to also be confident that different families do different things. If your children play outside, you will see that some neighbors might allow their children to play outside until 8:00 p.m., while others call the kids in earlier or permit them to stay out later, and that is 100 percent okay. If we are judgmental of other families who allow different things, our children will sense our insecurity about the limits we set.
If the child senses that a part of you wants to tell them no but the other part of you pities the child, your child will pity himself because, as we know, children always feel our vibes. Our children can feel disappointed in a healthy way and then be able to move on. (If validation of our children’s feelings is left out of the equation, it makes it much harder for them to move on.) It becomes tricky when we ourselves are not confident about whether or not this is good for our child. So, before we give the child an answer, think it over so that you actually get confident.
The next rule is: don’t make your child the odd man out. You don’t want to be the one mother who’s saying no to a certain item when 95 percent of the class really does have it. If it is, in fact, something that you passionately believe is unhealthy, perhaps you can speak to a school administrator and work together to try to bring the student body to a better place. School administrators are happier to listen to parents when instead of expressing complaints we frame what we are saying in a way that brings about collaboration to raise our children to a higher level.
Get clear on what’s right, get confident, and lead the healthy way for your children!
Make Your Child Feel Validated
If your child asks why other children are allowed to do something or have something you do not permit, you can respond with any of the following statements:
First start with, “It’s so normal that you wish you can have…” (validation)
Then wait a few seconds, and you can add: (Pick one)
“Every family does things differently.”
“This is what we decided is best for our family.”
“When you ask why other families have things it comes across like you think every family should have/do the same things, and I know you don’t really believe that.”
“My thoughts also sometimes tell me to look at what other people have.”
Remember that the goal is for your child to feel validated, and to also know that it’s actually not good for them to have everything they want. Making these statements is not going to make your child magically stop wanting the item, but your confidence about the limit can certainly help them get through the disappointment.