It all started a few weeks ago while we were shopping at Target. I found a bunch of silly-band type bracelets on clearance, so I picked up about 10 packs. I buying them in anticipation of the Operation Christmas Child boxes I was going to be packing with my MOPs group.
Unfortunately, my normally sweet 4 year old son did not seem to understand this. He stood in the aisle at Target, crossed his arms and said (in a very demanding voice):
“I want SOMETHING. I want something.”
I explained that these were for children who didn’t get lots of presents like he does, or have lots of toys.
It didn’t matter.
Over and over again, he repeated this as we headed toward the check out stand. The more he said it, the more infuriated I became. Hadn’t I taught him empathy? Where did this greedy, jealous child come from? And why did he have the notion that because I was buying these things for other children that I should automatically be buying something for him?
The whining continued through the check out (even the man behind me said something about how his wife always had to buy their granddaughter something) and to the car. In addition to the whining, I’d been trying to talk to him, explain to him, and had finally resorted to threats whispered in his ear through clenched teeth – none of it worked.
This was a problem I had caused – maybe not on purpose, but something I had failed to see or address throughout the year. But now, how do I fix it?
First, I started by talking. A LOT. We talked about the children that would receive the boxes and their situations and how their lives were so different. Then, instead of avoiding the possible tantrums, I took my children with me to purchase more items for the boxes. When I’d pick something up, my son would say: “Is that for the kids who don’t get presents?” I felt like he was starting to understand!
It really helped when I had them pick out three small toys each to give away – they both really wanted what they picked out, but knew that they weren’t going to keep them.
Operation Christmas Child is such a great way to give your time and money to children around the world – even in the United States!
Other great organizations to help fight the greed monster in your child are:
Angel Tree (purchasing gifts for children who’s parents are in prison)
Christian Family Care (your family or a group of families can adopt a foster family and purchase gifts for them)
Phoenix Rescue Mission (you can donate to help feed homeless people in Phoenix)
In addition to donating goods or money, you can also donate your time. If you have older children, most shelters will allow them to volunteer. I remember volunteering and serving meals to homeless people in Milwaukee when I was young – maybe 10 – and it really impacted my life.
How about you? What do you do to fight the greed monster?