In a day and age of birthday registrations at toy stores and advertisements geared toward younger audiences every week, it is difficult to teach your children about contentment. Learning to be content with what you already have is a tall order to fill for any adult, much less a toddler or a preschooler, but studies show that health and happiness grow with contentment. Make the effort to show that short-lived excitement over something new does not guarantee happiness in the long run.
Being truly thankful for your experiences and possessions can help you feel greater contentment. Sit down with your preschooler at the end of the day and ask him to share three good things from his day. Even a small event, like finding a four-leaf clover is cause for celebration. Say to him, "Look at this four-leaf clover! That is so special. You rarely find these. What a special day!" Family dinner time is another excellent platform to have every one give his “high” for the day, whether it was being the line leader at school or getting ice cream for dessert. Fill a notebook with your daily lists of good things, and use it to remind your tot about how blessed he is when a not-so-great day comes.
Teach the Value of Money
Understanding how much things cost and where money comes from can help your preschooler learn to be more content with the things she does receive. How about making small payments for household chores, like picking up toys or brushing teeth? Then when she wants a toy at the grocery store, she can use her own money to buy the extras. Tell her, "Sure honey, you can have that toy as long as you pay me back as soon as we get home." A quickly diminishing piggy bank balance just might make her think twice before asking for something new.
Instead of killing the afternoon at the local pizzeria, combating tyke-sized terrors hyped up on soda and video games, why not try a more simple approach to play time at home or outdoors? Toddlers love to make tents with couch cushions and extra blankets, or squish homemade play dough around on paper plates, created with only corn flour and water. Visiting a story time at your library can introduce your little one to borrowing as many books as he wants at no cost. The park provides fresh air and a place to just be silly with mom while getting out lots of energy.
Lead the Way
Create some healthy limits for yourself on items like new clothes, café lattes (this can be very difficult to limit!) or house decorations to help set an example for your child. When little Johnny knows that Mommy never spends more than she has on things she does not need, he will develop that habit for himself. It’s alright to admit to your preschooler that you struggle sometimes, too, but demonstrate in a real way that you are choosing to be content. Say, “I really wanted to go see that movie tomorrow, too, but I will enjoy my day just as much watching a video on the couch with you. Let’s pretend we are at the theater and make some buttery popcorn.”