Q: [School-Aged] I have just been informed by my first grader that I am to help make a ‘leprechaun trap’ that will somehow result in a leprechaun leaving gifts on March 17th. I am all for celebrating holidays in fun ways, but why does everything have to involve the expectation of getting ‘stuff’? Even if we balk, there will be kids that score and then mine will feel sad when she gets to school empty-handed. Is there any hope of raising a child who is not materialistic in OC?
A: What a wonderful opportunity to battle “entitlemania”. Entitlemania is a state of mind in which children believe they deserve to have anything they want, without putting forth the effort to earn it. The first step is to recognize that often we, well-meaning parents, are the cause. But we can also be the cure. It just takes creativity.
Here is one suggestion:
Pretending to read from an old book, tell your daughter you know a secret legend about the Leprechaun Queen. (Add a leprechaun’s Irish brogue for full effect.)
“Ask for yourself, and you won’t see a thing. But wish for other children…and see what the Queen will bring!”
Explain one doesn’t need to “trap” the Leprechaun Queen, just offer an invitation. Tell her the Leprechaun Queen comes once a year, the day before St. Patrick’s Day, and loves to help cheer up little children who don’t feel well. Ask your daughter to leave a note and one of her used dolls in exchange for a new doll to take to a recovering young patient at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County. After the Leprechaun Queen leaves a new doll, take your daughter to CHOC, and take pictures of her bringing joy to a patient her own age.
Send her to school with the photos and while others share their trap-booty, let her share her journey with her teacher and class. Explaining to her classmates how she and the Leprechaun Queen helped make a hospitalized little girl smile might inspire others to think outside their own wants. Always introduce your kids to experiences instead of things. And if a lesson can be taught in the process…better still.
Richard Watts is the author of ENTITLEMANIA: How Not To Spoil Your Kids, And What To Do If You have! He is a personal advisor and legal counsel to the super wealthy, who call on him to offer counsel on some of the most intimate decisions they have to make. For more information visit www.entitlemania.com