Indulgences – how much is too much?

When do you stop indulging your child? I define an indulgence as any act that placates a crying toddler. I’m not talking about crying that occurs due to pain or discomfort, but crying that occurs purely so that the kid gets her way.

Three examples from this week:

  1. I’m walking through a store carrying shirts. Little Miss cries until I let her carry all of the shirts, piled in her arms and around her neck. At first I thought her "helping out" was cute. At the cash register, she cries while the clerk rings up my purchase. I decline a bag because I know Miss will insist on carrying the shirts out of the store. The clerk tells me she has three kids and that I shouldn’t indulge mine.
  2. I’m feeding Little Miss lunch and she points at my plate, grimaces and whines. We are eating the same thing, but she isn’t satisfied by my giving her some of my food. She wants to eat off my plate. So we trade plates. A few bites later, she wants to trade again.
  3. Just about any time Little Miss sees a toy or stuffed animal across a room in a location she cannot reach, she cries, with outstretched arms aimed at the object of desire. Sometimes I give her the object. Sometimes I move the object out of sight or into another room.

It seems like I indulge Miss whenever I will be unable to distract her and otherwise avoid a crying fit. I’d love to hear from parents who have the will to just let their child cry out his or her frustration.


One Response to “Indulgences – how much is too much?”

  1. Rebecca D. says:

    Hi there! I just started reading your blog, so I’m not sure how old she is, but I’ll assume she’s two. I’d tell you how I found you, but I’ve been surfing through quite a few daddy-blogs as of late, so you can atleast assume I found you through one of them! And I’ll also warn you that I’m no parent (I hear you going ‘oooh no, here we go!’) but I’ve been a professional sitter in the past, and have quite a bit of experience with children 0-6. Either way, I just thought I’d give you my opinion, and you can take it with a grain of salt!

    It sounds like she’s testing you on one level, but at the same time, she could be trying to prove to herself that she’s capable of doing the things that you and those around her are, which may or may not be completely true at this point (but the will is there!).

    If you were carrying all of the shirts before she asked, I’d think she was just trying to mimic her Daddy! And if you were eating on a ‘grown up’ plate, while she was eating on a ‘toddler’ plate, then she was probably exhibiting the exact same thing as with the shirts.

    I’d recommend offering her choices, rather than just giving in or letting her go into a fit. ‘Would you like to help with the shirts?’ ‘Would you like to carry the blue shirt, or the red shirt?’ And then express that Daddy & Lil’ Miss are both carrying shirts. Or offer her a grown up plate of her own. It may or may not work, but if it doesn’t, then you’ll know she’s just testing you, in which I’d recommend trying to be understanding towards her and validating the emotions she’s not quite ready to express yet with words, like, ‘I know you really want Dad’s plate, but you have your own.’ or ‘I know you want all the shirts, but you have to share’.

    That doesn’t guarantee that she’ll calm down and take that easily, but in the long run, she’ll get that she can’t always have her way, but that you do understand what she wants. If she decides that what you’ve offered her isn’t good enough, then you take it away and say ‘this -object- or no -object-’. If she’s still in the whining stages, give her whatever it was back, but if she’s throwing down a fit then leave her for a minute and offer it again, and give it back once she calms down.

    Same advice for dealing with the stuffed toys, although if simply removing them or distracting her works, I don’t see any problem with that. If she’s not allowed to play with them, just state that you understand her frustration, but those aren’t for playing with, and offer her one of her toys.

    I’m sure you’ll find what works best for you and her, be it my advice or not! I just thought I’d let you in on what has worked for me in the past with similar situations. I never had the will to let the children just cry it out inless it got to the point where I’d given them a choice in the manner, so I felt validated in letting them do so in the end, too, if I had to! :)

    October 8th, 2005 at 12:47 am

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