Teach Your Kids the Satisfaction of Wanting
By Mary McLaurine
Technology these days is incredible, isn’t it? We have access to just about anything right at our fingertips and can possess it the next day if we’re willing to pay a few extra dollars. Instant (almost) gratification. While there are myriad reasons this is fantastic, handy, and fun, what happens to the joy of wanting?
Even as adults we often find ourselves lying awake at night pondering scenarios of an important event on the horizon, just as we did as children the night before Christmas, our birthday, or a play we were in. A plethora of emotions tumbled in our tummies, everything from excitement to fright, but the mere thought of what was coming, the wanting of it, was exhilarating.
Will it be as expected? Will something delay its arrival? Will Santa pass by the house? Will you forget the words of the three big lines in your first play? Will no one show up? Or will it be better than you imagined? Will your presents be bountiful, the applause thunderous and your party a smashing success with everyone and everything you want in sight?
The big day arrives, you throw back the covers, leap out of bed and hit the floor running – running toward what you’ve been wanting more than anything else in the world. Your heart pounds and hands sweat, all in the discovery of fruition of your heart’s desire.
These are the magical moments of wanting, the joy in manifesting things we want to bring into our life. Have you ever experienced your child at their big event or opening the last gift at their party only to find them a bit sad and disappointed? I believe we as parents have all dealt with this situation and it isn’t difficult to understand, because even as adults, we do the same thing.
Children experience complex emotions navigating and trying to understand the process of fruition. Of course they’re thrilled when what they’ve been dreaming of arrives, but often this feeling of elation is followed by sadness and confusion. The experience has come and gone, and with it, the joy in the mere wanting of it.
Thanks to the Internet, trinkets and temptations of the entire world are dangled right before our children’s eyes. It’s up to us as parents to teach them the joy they can find in the wanting: The excitement of putting that first jagged little tooth under the pillow, the thought of going to visit grandma, or wondering who’s on the other side of the door when the bell rings.
Teach them to savor the feeling; the awareness of anticipation is a powerful tool in learning to be in and appreciate the present moment. Talk to them and engage their feelings as it’s happening so they grasp the fire and passion of something unfolding just as they imagined it.
“It’s worth the wait,” is an expression we often hear as kids. “All good things come in time,” is another, and both are true. Children aren’t always happy about the wait. They’re impatient and excited, and depending on their age, the concept of days, and even hours, can be hard for them to understand and cope with. Parlay the conversation into what’s coming, thereby redirecting their thoughts from frustration and disappointment to appreciation and gratitude.
“What are you thinking right now? Why are you so excited about this? What do you think grandma will have made especially for you? How does the Tooth Fairy get here? How does Santa get down our little chimney?” Ask them anything to continue their train of thought and as they answer each question, take note of the happy smiles on their faces and the joy in their eyes. The more we speak of it, the more joyful we become.
Teaching patience to our children is a necessity. They need to learn not everything comes overnight or under a pillow. What better way to do this than cultivating their joy in the wanting of what they desire most, and to learn that at the end of patience is gratification? It’s a lesson they will utilize and embrace throughout their lives if we teach them well.
Like all things with kids, it’s a process, but it behooves us as parents to instill in them the tools they’ll need to navigate their world and the path they choose to travel. If they can find joy, pleasure and ease in the belief of what will come, they’ll always be mindfully present and know peace in their lives.
If you are depressed, you’re living in the past. If you’re anxious, you’re living in the future, if you’re at peace, you’re living in the present.
– Lao Tzu