We had the Chanukah Carnival at Temple today. I‘m on the Religious School Committee, so I volunteered to help. I ended up minding the Chanukah Store, which was better than selling cotton candy.
Alas, as a part of the store, my table also took Gelt tickets. For those unfamiliar with Chanukah traditions, Gelt is a popular item among the kids. It’s that little bag of chocolate covered coins. The kids would go through the carnival, earn coupons for various activities, and come to me to purchase Gelt, Dreidles, or a mystery item from the grab-box.
This was fine, until this one kid came up… this one little kid, who obviously never heard the word “no” in his young life. He hands over his coupon for the grab box, reaches in, and grabs his item. He looks at it and immediately tells his mother, “I don’t like it! I want a different one!” Y’know, I have other kids waiting in line. You get what you get. But before I can say anything, she lets him switch his prize. I politely ask her not to do that again, and explain that the grab box is a quick grab-and-go item, fun for everyone. It’s a “mystery”, but what you grab is what you get. I’m really nice about it and so is she. So her kid changes his prize… then he says, “I WANT TO DO IT AGAIN! I WANT ANOTHER ONE!” And he starts to reach in to get another toy in addition to the one he just grabbed. She has to drag him away mid-temper-tantrum.
Oh, it gets better…
Later, the little demon-spawn comes back without his mom. He has another coupon. There is a long line of kids ahead of him, but he circumvents the line and just goes up to the side of the box. I politely tell him, “Sweetie, of course you can draw again, but you need to get in line and wait your turn.”
He looked at me as though I’d smashed his hopes and dreams. I told him he had to wait?? He went running from the room as fast as he could, throwing a fit. Well… I wasn’t too concerned. Everyone knows everyone at our small Temple. When I got to a stopping point, I looked up at his mother and said, “Your son just tore out of here in a temper tantrum. I don’t think he wanted to wait his turn.” She got this panicked look on her face and went off after him. She brings him back and molly-coddled him through picking another item from the box.
The kid is maybe 3 or 4. I can’t wait to see how she’ll handle things when he’s a teen.
Whether you believe in corporal punishment or just handling things via “time-out”, at some point you have to establish boundaries. It’s OK to tell your child “No.” Trust me. They’re going to hear that word quite frequently in the real world once they’re an adult. If you don’t expose them to it early on, you aren’t doing them (or yourself) any favors.