My Greedy Kid
Having a hard time sharing or acting “greedy” are fairly common stages for most kids. Some kids have a harder time growing out of these stages than others. Here is what my friend, Shannon of Pineapples & Artichokes, is doing with her daughter to help work through some of the “my my mine” issues.
Please share in the comments how you have gently addressed this with your own kiddo.
My kid likes stuff. She has always wanted lots of things, and has a very hard time seeing someone else get something if she’s not also getting something. We have left many a play date in tears because the host owned a toy that she wanted to take home. We have had to leave play dates in our own home because she screamed every time the other kids touch anything we owned. Some days she ends up crying in a pile of precious things because the very idea that another person might look at them is terrifying and overwhelming. Recently, she discovered the idea of “lovies” and so, of course, she tells me now that ALL her toys are her lovies, and must come with us everywhere, and are too precious to be played with, even by her.
I cannot give her a treat, or have a treat myself, without that being the topic of conversation for the next week. When can we have hot chocolate again? Why can’t we have hot chocolate today? Why do you get a coffee and I don’t get a drink? Why are we not buying a toy for me, only a birthday present for that friend? Can we skip the party and keep the toy? Can we go to the party and have cake, but not give them a toy? Can we keep the toy and give them this old, broken toy, I don’t want anymore? Can I also keep the broken toy? When is my birthday so my friends will bring me toys? Can I have a half birthday party, so my friends will bring me more toys? Can I have a birthday every month?
It is exhausting. It is maddening. I worry about her future as a hoarder, about her ability to ever share anything, about her ability to make friends if she won’t ever let them touch anything she likes. How can she interact in society when sometimes the dog can’t even look at her toys?
So, despite our belief that you should only say “no” if there is a very good reason, and that my children’s wants should be respected as much as my own, I have set up a number of limits, regulations, and rules around this one area of our lives.
- She started getting an allowance around 2, as soon as every trip to the store turned into a gimme fest. At first it was 25 cents a week, but it was enough so that when she asked for random things at the store, she had the power to buy them, or not because she’d spent all her money. I had a little change purse with her money in it, that we could pull out and count, to see how long it would be before she could buy that thing.
- I’ve been intentionally creating a world for us where everything is not available at all times. If we go out to lunch we can have dessert or a non water drink, but not both. She can only have one dessert a day, so if you choose dessert at the restaurant, you cannot have a cookie at home. If I buy her something special at the store, we can’t buy something else tomorrow. She gets to pick out one special snack at the store when we grocery shop, but only on our big weekly shopping trip.
- When we have a special treat, like making popcorn, I emphasize the fact that this is something that is just happening today, not something that happens all the time. She has started parroting this, and the last time we made cookies and I handed her a beater, she happily told me that this was a “special thing Momma, but we can’t lick the beaters tomorrow!”
- There is a limit on how many things can be on her wishlist at once, currently 15. If she wants to add something to the wishlist and there’s already 15, something has to come off before the new thing can go on.
- When kids are coming to visit, which she absolutely loves, even though it can still sends her into fits of anxiety, she can pick two special things to get hidden, and everything else is available to be played with under normal house rules. I also remind her that friends will play with your toys at your house, but when they go home, the toys stay with us. Just like we can’t take our friend’s toys home from their houses.
- Related to that, since she now has a sibling to share with all the time, all the toys that I buy, or that were already in our possession before she came along, and all books belong to my husband and me. Anything she was given is hers, but it turns out we LOVE to share, so it’s totally okay for that kid to play with “my” truck, or “my” stroller. She seems to find it much easier to share my toys than hers, and the more limited number of things that are hers means she spends less time all around trying to keep her things safe.
- We have recently, started talking to her about second choices. While standing in line at the fair and eyeing the pink motorcycle is good, but which one would you ride if the pink one is taken? If it’s E day at preschool, so Eve gets the pink spoon, which color is your second favorite?
- We do a lot of giving to other people throughout the year. We don’t force her to participate, like this Christmas where she announced that she didn’t want to pick a tag from the giving tree. We also pay attention to when she wants to give, like when she noticed the request for school supplies for foster kids at her ballet class.
- Finally, we try not to attach negative labels to this part of her, and push back when other people do. She is not selfish, she is still learning to share, just like most of her friends. It’s normal to want lots of things, everyone wants lots of things.
My kid is kind, and caring, and giving. She also struggles with sharing. But I refuse to let that define her. It would be ridiculous to attach a label of “incontinent” to a child who struggles with potty learning, and give up helping them figure it out. I think it would be just as silly to assign my child the label of “greedy” just because she’s struggling to learn to temper her desire for things new and old.
Shannon is former nanny and a current stay at home, crafty, geeky mom to two very energetic kids. She writes about sewing, radical homemaking, and playful parenting at Pineapples & Artichokes, along with featuring her photography. She is passionate about breastfeeding, compassionate parenting, and green living.
Photo Credit: Author
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"My Greedy Kid"
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