A few weeks ago, I surprised Lincoln with a trip to Monster Golf, an indoor, monster-themed mini golf course that also has a few arcade games.
Lincoln LOVES playing games, however, I had zero cash on me that day, and I wasn’t taking him to play games. I was taking him to golf, the activity he’d talked about doing for at least a week. So, I didn't stop and get any cash.
I "warned" Lincoln in the car I had no cash for him to play any games there and that we were going to play golf, not games. I actually told him in the car on the way there, in the car in the parking lot, walking into the place, during our golf game, and right when we were done and would be passing the games on the way out. He never did ask, I just kept tell him "Now remember, mommy has no money for games. We won’t be playing any arcade games." To which he’d reply, "OK, mommy." "Well good," I thought, "he gets it."
On the way out he told me he wanted to play this game and that game and on and on. I reminded him I didn’t have any money, but NOW it was a problem. He left with a sad face, and the whole way home he said "I really wish I could have played those games." He didn’t throw a tantrum or anything. He just repeated in a soft, kind of depressing voice that he wanted to play those games. I told him that we played golf and that should be enough for him that day. What I really wanted to do was remind him how he should be grateful he got to play Monster Golf. I wanted to remind him that he'd been talking about it all week and that I spent money for us to play together, and he should be happy with that...AND GET OVER THE GAMES!
Tuesday, we went to Chuck E Cheese's with some of his friends. He had an awesome time! We stayed until 8:30 p.m., and when we arrived at home, he told me he wanted to watch three of his shows. I told him three way too many for that time of night, and he could do two after his bath.
He. Freaked. Out.
What the heck?! I took that opportunity to tell him that a lot of kids his age were in bed at this time and that he should remember we spent a lot of time at Chuck E Cheese's.
He just kept crying. I was PO’d. How dare he, right?! COME ON!
With a stern voice I told him he was getting a bath and going to bed. NO SHOWS. I told him how watching TV, going to Chuck E Cheese's, and other things he gets to do are privileges, and we don't have to let him do that stuff. I told him about how other kids don’t do this or that and how he needs to learn how to be grateful (a term I didn’t know how to explain to a four year old). He was upset for a good hour. Then he fell asleep.
Frustrated and sad I thought, “Oh crap! Am I raising a brat?”
I preach to him to say thank you and please and religiously hold tight to my instructions that he can’t do x until he does y, and he does this?
It is clear gratitude needs to be taught at our house and that TV time and other activities shouldn’t be so willy-nilly. They should be earned more than given, but Linc is a good boy usually. To me, he does earn these special trips. It's just never said. Like, I never say "you were a good boy yesterday so you get to go today" and if he's not good, I don't take him.
What do you do with your kids to teach gratitude? Have you had this problem and were able to fix it? Is he just being a four year old? Should I be more diligent and say he earned this because of that? I don't really want to start matching things tit for tat and have him expect something every time he does something good. I want him to just be and do good!