Over Christmas break, I took Grace and Leah grocery shopping which Grace was excited to do - mostly because she wanted to ride in the race car shopping cart, ahh the little things in life. While we were picking up our food for the week, I decided to get my oldest some new mitts since the ones she normally wears get wet easily. So new mitts went into the cart. Up and down the aisle we went, checking off what we needed on the list. At one point I saw that Valentine's Day items were already being displayed and thought I should pick up some Valentine's for Grace's class before I forget. Grace picked out a box that she wanted to hand out. After that we were pretty much done. But then it happened as I was unloading the cart, Grace asked if she could get a chocolate Kinder Egg, you know the ones with the tiny plastic toy surprise inside. I calmly told her that she just got a new pair of mitts and a box of Valentine's plus in case she had forgotten she had been having chocolate pretty much since the middle of December. Grace then started to cry. Getting annoyed I calmly told her that if she don't stop, I would put back her mitts and Valentine's and she would get nothing - her choice. My oldest stopped crying but was still upset. I don't think I spoil my children, they do get treats every now and then - mostly in the home made food department but it's a rare thing that they would get something as a toy while we are out shopping. A majourity of both my girl's clothes are hand me downs from older cousins but they do get the odd new thing every now and then. On this day I was confused on how to feel about Grace acting this way. I understand children (and some adults) want everything they see. I get that's a good reason why there are rows of treats at the check out line. But Grace hasn't really acted like this before. I get that it could be because Christmas had just passed and it may have seemed to her it was two weeks of gifts and treats and well thats how it should be from now on.
On the way home I explain to her that I was upset with how she acted and how lucky she was to have what she has in her life. I explained to her, hopefully in a way that she can understand, that there are many children in our community and around the world that don't have what she does - they aren't healthy, they aren't warm in the winter, they don't have people in their life who love them and they don't often have a lot of food to eat. I hated that I had to talk about that kind of life with my daughter who is only four. I don't want to scare her or even have her think at this age that there are kids who aren't safe and are hungry. That there are kids who live a very different life than she does. At the time that was the only way I could think of to get her to understand how lucky she is and to be satisfied with what she has instead of always wanting more. Later on, after reading 'The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies" - when Brother and Sister Bear whine and have tantrums when they don't get the treat they want (sounds familiar), I felt better about the approach I took with Grace. It may have seemed harsh and to the point but I'd rather teach my children empathy as well as about greed instead of just greed - two birds, one stone. I think Grace got the lesson, she hasn't whined about not getting a treat - she hasn't gone shopping with me either but that's besides the point.