Saturdays are best spent outside. But this Saturday was spent at the mall, because the girls bribed my wife and me by virtually cleaning the entire house, beginning at 8AM. Girls can be crafty…

So, Christina and I spent mall time with Ava, our three year old, while Emma and her friend went off doing their own thing. Of course, we ended up visiting the Disney Store where Ava found Anna and Elsa dolls, from the movie Frozen. We purchased both. That’s two toys, roughly 30 dollars… not too bad.

Afterwards, we visited an indoor playground for a chunk of time to let Ava burn off energy while the two others continued their mall time.

Towards the end of our stay we visited another store where Ava spotted another toy, Puppy Dog Pals. It looked like a cute toy, a mini playhouse complete with two dog figurines. Ava definitely loves the Puppy Dog Pals cartoon, but there was one big problem… Ava already had 2 toys.

Perfect lesson opportunity! I explained to Ava that she already had two new toys. This other new toy would have to wait for another time, because you can’t always get everything you want when you want it. Simple as that…

Only, Ava didn’t see it that way. A three year old wants what she wants when she wants it. That’s perfect healthy, perfectly normal. So, as she realized daddy was serious, that she couldn’t get the Puppy Dog Pal toy she started crying, and that crying got louder and more pronounced.

This is the point at which many parents give in. But giving in during such a situation reinforces bad behavior for the child. It instills within them patterns of behavior of acting out when they don’t get their way, and furthermore creates an entitlement mentality: “I get what I want when I want it because that’s the way it goes.”

Entitled kids are snots, but they’re snotty, entitled behavior can often be traced back to parents who cave, and who have failed to regularly enforce common sense discipline. I would label most of these parents simply as “bad parents”… I’m not saying they’re bad people, but they suck as parents. Their crappy parenting has ramifications that follow the child into adulthood and likely for the remainder of their lives, and furthermore leaves society with self centered, egotistical, narcissistic citizens – we all know these kinds of people. They absolutely suck!

So, as Ava cried and cried, I held my ground, “No, you can’t have the Puppy Dog Pals.” I scooped her up as she cried and threw her fit, and carried her out of the store. She cried all the way to the car, and continued to cry all the way home.

I didn’t mind the crying. It is all part of the process of maturing, of learning basic, fundamental life lessons.

This Saturday I helped Ava grow. I helped establish healthy future behavior. Without a doubt Ava will be upset again and we’ll revisit the same type of scenario. Afterall, she’s a kid. Kids cry, they throw tantrums, they try to manipulate parents to get their way. Don’t want to deal with this? Then, don’t have kids!

By holding my ground this Saturday I’ve also set the stage for my own future behavior in helping Ava to develop into a mature, responsible person.

Behavior is learned. It is formed and molded. As as parent your responsibility is to help guide your child to develop healthy behaviors so they have the best chance for living a successful, fulfilling, and useful life.

Remember this the next time you’re tempted to give into your screaming, upset child. It might just be a priceless opportunity for both of you to grow.

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