Kate Hawkesby: How to deal with kids' 'pester power' this Christmas

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Thu, 12 Dec 2019, 10:45AM
Taking your kids shopping around Christmastime can be a nightmare, writes Kate Hawkesby. Photo / 123rf

Kate Hawkesby: How to deal with kids' 'pester power' this Christmas

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Thu, 12 Dec 2019, 10:45AM

The Christmas messages are coming thick and fast. It's like the pep talk we never knew we needed, or should I say, the many pep talks. How to keep your relationship alive, how to draw boundaries with family and friends, how to find time for self care, what to eat and how to plan ... it's endless.

The latest missive out of a university in Australia is to warn parents about pester power.

Pester power is the niggly whiney constant asking by kids at this time of year, which they say starts with a small ask and then rises to a full blown tantrum. So according to the university research, parents are combatting this quite well - fewer than 20 percent of Australian parents were caving in to their children's demands.

We often can't avoid having kids with us when we shop, they're on holiday, they're kicking around and they often want to come and "help" with the Christmas or food shopping. But apparently parents are getting better at dealing with pester power. So is the pestering losing its power then?

If you think about the level of pestering - can you believe every 4 minutes a child will ask for something? That's 80 percent of children out shopping, asking every 4 minutes for something to be bought for them. That's an exhausting 4 minute cycle on repeat.

But one expert says it's a necessary part of a child's development as they "learn to express themselves and practice communication and negotiation skills". Really? It just sounds annoying to me.

Giving kids tasks to do at the supermarket or the free fruit on offer will hold off the pestering while you shop. Photo / 123rf
Giving kids tasks to do at the supermarket or the free fruit on offer will hold off the pestering while you shop. Photo / 123rf

But here are the tips for diluting the pester power - give them a job, like pushing the trolley or ticking things off a list.

Let them eat the free fruit at the supermarket - healthy snack plus buys you some time -win win.

Take things to distract, like a book or toy they might like.

Cut the trip short if need be.

And my personal favourite, just say no. Wow. The experts remind us that we the parents, are in charge. What a revelation. Did we really need reminding of this? Are we that whipped by our own kids?

I feel like the experts missed an obvious and very critical point here though. Leave them at home. If you know your kid is not up for it, or will pester you every 4 minutes to buy them something, why are you even taking them?

Also, since when did threats not become a well-versed part of parenting? Before the trip begins, you tell your kid, if I hear one single moan from you whining about things you want, we're going home. Is that not kosher these days?

I worry that we have universities wasting their time researching these topics and then handing out tips which are just common sense. Have we become that devoid of parenting abilities that we need to be told how to say no to our kids?

If so, then I hope Santa's handing out backbones this Christmas.