Are you giving in to kids' pestering this Christmas?
Every parent is acutely aware of their child’s ‘pester power’– a behaviour involving repeated requests, typically indulged in while out shopping. It can start with a small request or two and, if left unchecked, can snowball into constant nagging and occasionally into to a full-blown meltdown. But does pestering really work and how are parents handling it? According to research from the University of South Australia, Aussie parents are faring very well, with just over half of all shopping trips occurring without any challenging behaviours from children, and when requests do occur, less than 20 per cent of parents cave in. Lead researcher, UniSA’s Dr Bill Page says the finding is a positive sign for parents heading into the Christmas holiday season.
“Christmas is a time where families spend lots of time together which often means the kids need to accompany parents on the weekly shopping trip,” Dr Page says.
“Parents often cringe at this thought… yet despite the narrative about parents feeling relatively powerless in the face of children’s nagging, our research shows otherwise, with most parents holding their ground when it comes to pester-power. We found that while 80% of children asked for something every four or so minutes, parents actually denied an overwhelming 76% of requests, showing that children’s pestering is perhaps not as powerful as is often thought.”
Dr Page offers up some ideas to help Christmas shopping with children go more smoothly.
- Kids love having a job to do. If you can devise a useful task, such as pushing the trolley or ticking items off a list, they’ll feel more involved and interested.
- Visit the free fruit station. Supermarkets don’t give out free fruit to kids because they’re good people, but because they want to build a fresh food image and want you to stay in store longer. A healthy snack might give you the time to complete the shop with minimal fussing.
- Take things to distract. Difficult behaviour often arises when kids are hungry or tired. If you have a book, toy or something to eat on hand, you might be able to stretch their patience until the shop is done.
- Just say no. You probably already do this, but delaying or distracting tactics can help. Remember you are in charge, not the kids.
- Don’t be afraid to cut a trip short. If it’s all going pear-shaped, sometimes it’s best to just cut and run. Go home, have a cup of tea and try again another time.