Life is frustration, among other things. Nobody gets everything they want and there are many things we simply have to wait for. That means we all need the ability to delay gratification. You may begin a job and have to wait to prove yourself to ‘move up the ladder’. Most of us eat dinner before dessert. It’s hard to wait nine months before you get to see your beautiful baby and so on…
When a newborn is hungry, s/he gets fed quickly but, as time passes, that little baby can wait a little. Just hearing mother’s soothing voice that the bottle is coming can help. That’s the beginning of delaying one’s need. Back to that dessert. Young children might prefer to skip the healthy dinner and go straight to the goodies and the whining begins. Parents help the children learn how to wait, an important skill in life.
In order to succeed in the life skills of delaying gratification and tolerating frustration, children need to learn that they are not the center of the universe and, at times, other things and people, come first. That reality pops up quickly if there are siblings, who are also clamoring for attention. Day care is another arena where the reality of learning to wait one’s turn takes hold.
Parents who try to fulfill their child’s every wish, to avoid tantrums, are setting up a pattern. We need to remember that “no” and frustration are gifts to our children. They can be the breeding ground of learning to be patient, have longer-term goals and consider the needs of others.If a child tantrums and get results, they are going to learn that’s how to get their way. Those who don’t learn to tolerate frustration can become demanding and self-centered. They often have problems with intimate relationships as well as friendship. Compromise is not in their vocabulary as they are unable to consider the needs of others. Their solution is to be demanding and manipulate to get their way. Their entitled way of looking at the world can present problems in personal and professional relationships.
So, the next time you have to utter a reasonable “no”, don’t feel you are a meanie but simply a mindful parent, setting a precedent for a patient, caring person.