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Materialism - Should dd get the doll?

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
Almost 8 yr-old DD1 completely lost it when just turned 6-yr old DD2 opened her birthday presents, which included a new doll. I thought we had prepped her enough this year but she remains obsessed with equality in possessions and with having something new. She loses it (big time) whenever her younger sister gets something she does not have (e.g. a party bag item, a win at a fair stall). Everything she has is old and no good, and she can't sleep for wanting to know exactly what she is getting for her upcoming birthday (and I can predict that anything except a new doll for her will cause an extended tantrum). This is a longstanding trait.

DH and I are not particularly materialistic and we try our best to pass that on, but I feel like we are failing terribly with DD and don't know what to do differently. We don't shop for entertainment and they almost never go into stores. We talk to them about how we make careful decisions about what we buy. We re-use and re-purpose and make from scratch where we can. They watch little tv and then nearly all DVD or pre-recorded with no ads. Their toys are mostly "old-fashioned" - dolls, puzzles, bikes, lego, marbles, sewing.

And it is definitely the dolls where she is the most "gimme". She will get a new doll and it will live with her almost 24/7, clothes changed all day, fed, played with, etc. then when she gets the next doll, it is elevated and the "old" one is severely demoted. We're reading the Little House books and we talk about how Laura only has one doll for years; we talk about poor children around the world; doesn't seem to help. She is fixated on that new, better doll over the horizon. Between birthdays and xmas for the past 5 years, she has accumulated maybe 15-20 dolls - quite a few from grandma or auntie as her requested present. She does play with them alot, especially the 18" of which she now has 3 (all Our Generation from Target which is a great American Girl substitute at a fraction of the price).

Should I be happy that she is loves playing with dolls every day and spend the $30 on another new doll for her birthday? Or do I draw a line in the sand and say enough is enough, newer is not always better, be happy with the dolls you have, you need to learn a life lesson? I tried limiting the number by saying she had to get rid of one to get a new one, but she eagerly foisted an older baby doll onto her little cousin and I feel like that approach promotes the "grass is greener".

DH and I are really twisted in knots on how to handle her on this and the bigger issue of materialism. DD2 is grateful for whatever presents and doesn't get so wound up about always wanting something more/newer. I just read parts of "Raising the Spirited Child" today and DD1 does have some of those issues - doesn't handle transitions well, needs expectations managed carefully. Any and all thoughts appreciated!!!!!! Sorry so long!!!!
post #2 of 33
Does she get to make a list for Christmas/Birthday? Does she play with them all? If so, and the doll is still on the list, I'd get it for her. BUT not until her special day comes. Until that time, she gets to keep her 'old' dolls, and she might get a stern lecture from me about appreciating what she's got.

Ds collects stuffed penguins. Each has a role in the elaborate play that he's created. He's trying to flesh out the whole family tree. As a result, he's asked for more penguins for Christmas. Does he need them? No. Will he play with them ? Yes. So, I've shopped around on Ebay and gotten him two really nice stuffed penguins fairly cheap.

You might also think about asking your dd to go through her dolls and donate a couple that she doesn't play with to someone who doesn't have any toys. If there's a specific charity or specific person (maybe you can check the Holiday Helper list and read her a few stories), maybe she'll respond to that. You can try to teach her compassion and generosity.
post #3 of 33
If you model generous behavior in your own life then your dd`s materialistic ways will fade as she gets older. You don`t need to think too hard beyond `what do my actions tell dd`. Maybe focusing on generosity instead of materialism will help. Find small ways that she is generous with her toys and encourage it, talk about how good it feels to give etc. I really think this is something she will eventually grow out of, especially with a family like yours that does not value materialism. It`s a process, that`s for sure!
post #4 of 33
Thread Starter 
She does make lists and a doll and doll accessories are always at the top. And I do the stern lecture on appreciation on what seems a very frequent basis, usually to no effect. And while I don't like the revolving door concept with her dolls in some ways, I think we need to reduce overall numbers so finding someone specific to pass along less loved dollies would great.

It is easy to forget when she is whining endlessly about how she has nothing (and her sister has everything) that she can be generous - another request on her list is to "adopt an endangered animal" which she did last year and earned the money to pay for it with our 1:1 match.

Two ideas we've had tonight are:
1) Have a joint birthday party for DDs next year as we always have this intense jealousy in the weeks between DD2 then DD1's parties
2) Make sure we set aside one/some presents for the post-Xmas period as she always seems to have a big let-down then that triggers another tantrumy phase

Any suggestions on books to further the "appreciate what you have" or "others are happy with less" messages would be much appreciated???
post #5 of 33
There's a cute Frances book about generosity and jealousy and giving. Frances' little sister is having a birthday, and Frances has to decide whether to give her sister the whole present she bought, or keep some of it for herself. Lovely whimsical books.

Does your DD1 give presents to DD2 on her birthday? Maybe if she was more involved in the process - helping choose and wrap the present, being the generous big sister - she'd be less jealous? You said she can be generous, so that's hopeful!

At eight, she might be old enough for a serious talk before DD2's birthday. It IS fair that they each get presents on their own day. It is NOT fair that she gets to ruin DD2's day, and I'd be inclined to attach some consequences if she did (might be particularly effective if their birthdays are quite close together). Greed is a really unpleasant trait, IMO, and can lead to horrible "You paid $1500 more for my sister's wedding than mine!"-type scenes down the line. Is eight too young to learn that sometimes, someone else gets the goodies and you learn to suck it up and smile? I don't think so, depending on her maturity in other areas.

And personally, I would not have extra presents after Christmas to prevent tantrums. That seems counterproductive - life isn't a never-ending round of gifts, and they won't seem as special if they happen all the time. Doing something after Christmas is a really good idea - could you make it trips to the zoo or family activities instead of presents? I mean, yes, it would still cost you money, but it'd have a different focus.

Good luck!
post #6 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post
There's a cute Frances book about generosity and jealousy and giving. Frances' little sister is having a birthday, and Frances has to decide whether to give her sister the whole present she bought, or keep some of it for herself. Lovely whimsical books.

Does your DD1 give presents to DD2 on her birthday? Maybe if she was more involved in the process - helping choose and wrap the present, being the generous big sister - she'd be less jealous? You said she can be generous, so that's hopeful!

At eight, she might be old enough for a serious talk before DD2's birthday. It IS fair that they each get presents on their own day. It is NOT fair that she gets to ruin DD2's day, and I'd be inclined to attach some consequences if she did (might be particularly effective if their birthdays are quite close together). Greed is a really unpleasant trait, IMO, and can lead to horrible "You paid $1500 more for my sister's wedding than mine!"-type scenes down the line. Is eight too young to learn that sometimes, someone else gets the goodies and you learn to suck it up and smile? I don't think so, depending on her maturity in other areas.

And personally, I would not have extra presents after Christmas to prevent tantrums. That seems counterproductive - life isn't a never-ending round of gifts, and they won't seem as special if they happen all the time. Doing something after Christmas is a really good idea - could you make it trips to the zoo or family activities instead of presents? I mean, yes, it would still cost you money, but it'd have a different focus.

Good luck!
I agree

The Frances books are so cute
post #7 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by marsmom View Post
And I do the stern lecture on appreciation on what seems a very frequent basis, usually to no effect.
Yeah, I don't think my stern lectures do any good either, but I do feel compelled to give them!

Quote:
Originally Posted by marsmom View Post
Two ideas we've had tonight are:
1) Have a joint birthday party for DDs next year as we always have this intense jealousy in the weeks between DD2 then DD1's parties
2) Make sure we set aside one/some presents for the post-Xmas period as she always seems to have a big let-down then that triggers another tantrumy phase
I wouldn't do either! She needs to learn to deal with (a) her jealousy and (b) her 'let down'. What I might consider at Christmas is setting aside a few toys after she's opened them to bring out later. She needs to learn that she can manage these intense emotions. I know how hard it is. Our intense dd has a birthday 3 weeks after her brother. That week after her brother's bday is rough.

One thing that we've done with our kids in the past (and need to get back to) is to have the kids tell us one thing that they're thankful for each night before going to bed.

Actually our pastor's children's sermon last week was really helpful for this: He suggested a simple prayer of: One thing you're thankful for, one thing you're sorry for, and one thing/person you'd like to pray for/you're worried about. This could easily be adapted if you're not religious -- really just take off the "Dear Lord" bit. So, tonight for dd it was: I'm thankful for a mom, I'm sorry I hit my brother, I hope that grandma feels better.

I think these simple rituals of giving thanks, of thinking of others, and seeing their parents do the same is really powerful for children.

Oh, and what about a book like "Children Just Like Me" -- it's not about gratitude exactly, but it does profile different children in different living situations, and what kinds of things they do for fun. I think it helps show kids in our country just how darned privileged they are.
post #8 of 33
this is my take as a fellow mom with a kid who is NOT like me on several levels!

My DD is the same. She wants MORE. MORE of everything.

Partly i blame her father (XP) as he is terrible for taking her to thrift stores and buying her numerous very cheap pre-loved things she doesn't need. Partly i blame me for sewing and knitting so much that a new lovie is only ever 3 scraps and an hour away. Partly i accept that her attitude to stuff is different to mine.

I notice you mention that your DD gave her cousin a doll very easily - that is A GREAT thing. With my DD before Christmas and Birthday (April) she goes through her toys and we sort into 3 piles: Mama's house toybox, Dada's house toybox (she stays overnight with him tues and sat and sees him thursday afternoons so she's there for approaching half of the week anyway) and charity. The first time we did it she found it sooooo hard to conceive that she was really not going to see the charity things again. She struggled at first to find even ONE toy that she could bear to give up (and some of what she owns is monumental crap!). Now, 3 sort-outs later, she is eager to make space for new things to love.

I don't think it's materialistic to like "the new", when one is willing to pass on "the old". She is not hoarding toys. She is more excited by newness than familiarity, which might mean when she is an adult she is a fantastically gifted inventor/scientist/writer/analyst/explorer. Valuing newness is what drives some people to ever-giddier heights in their careers and lives. It needn't be a terrible trait so long as it is balanced. She sounds like she can be as generous as she can greedy (not the word i want but can't think of a better one right now) so i think i would merely decide where the line in the sand is for you (how many dolls can she HAVE) and then help her choose amongst her excess to donate or re-gift (smaller children often value a pre-loved special toy more than a new one).

She sounds jealous of her sister, which is a monstrous thing to deal with (i was jealous as a child and it is painful and hard, feels huge and insurmountable like trying to eat the moon, as i told my mother once). Have you read "siblings without rivalry"? I haven't but it's on my list. DD's cousin is a very jealous and manipulating child and it's really hard to deal with when they're together - a child who locks themself in a cupboard and sobs for 15minutes because papa allowed her cousin to keep the 5p she found on the carpet...? Hard.

Best of luck and It's tough isn't it?
post #9 of 33
Are you crafty at all? Could you get her interested in making some toys? At 8 she could learn simple crochet or sew felt toys with supervision, maybe some to keep and some to give away. She might like to have a project, it might take her mind off collecting things.
post #10 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by marsmom View Post
Two ideas we've had tonight are:
1) Have a joint birthday party for DDs next year as we always have this intense jealousy in the weeks between DD2 then DD1's parties
2) Make sure we set aside one/some presents for the post-Xmas period as she always seems to have a big let-down then that triggers another tantrumy phase
I just can't stomach this. She seems too old for this pouting. It isn't her birthday and the idea of getting her more presents after Xmas seems like it would only exacerbate the problem. She will be receiving more in each situation so her tantrums will be working.
post #11 of 33
Maybe it would be a good thing if you could involve both children infinding/getting/making a present for the occasion of the sibling's birthday? That way your daughter(s) do not have feel ex-cluded and treated unfairly (fed by feelings of jealousy) about the sibling's birthday celebration but can be fully part in it and be excited about giving her own (co-)present to her sister?
Once I had my 5yo helping me make a cardboard wall-e for his 3yo brother's birthday, it was a great and satisfying craft project! He was so proud to give it and his brother was so happy with it. (And I can tell you, jealousy between both, especially from the eldest towards the youngest can be HUGE around here, so I also read 'siblings without rivalry' because of that, which I can recommend, the craft project dated from before I read the book btw).
Of course, he also 'wanted' something like this for himself (I had expected that ;-), and my suggestion was that I would make him an Eve for HIS BD, which he was very excited about. Since ds2 was still too young to really help with this, I sewed an Eve from scraps and kept ds2 informed on the progress, he also took part in the giving, and his older brother just LOVED it, and slept with it for months in a row. Those were some of the best ideas we've ever had in this house.

Let your daughter(s) have a wish list for her own birthday if that's what they feel comfortable about.

And the 'preeches', yes, sometimes it may seem what you say goes in and out again in no time. I do like to keep my 'preaches' more as 'lessons' I teach, or maybe better said as things I teach my kids inbetween issues, not when an issue actually emerges. More by explaining issues in life and by showing, rather than by preaching, at a time when my child seems to have huge difficulties with something, which at that moment does not really help her. By preaching it may seem you are accusing a person of doing the wrong thing. By talking about things through the day, it is more a way accustoming to other ways and ideas and at least a way in which you can explain how YOU think and feel about certain issues, or others might.

I would not recommend a joint birthday party, and I do not think we will do this (here their bds are 1,5 month apart) because I think it could actually lead to more jealousy and related issues (especially if such is already the case between siblings) instead of less. I think children have the right to their own birthday celebration, even if ages or birthdays are very close. But it could be just a small family or very low profile at home party with just some of your child's friends around, which may cause much less stress or issues for all family members.

I personally did consider to do an at home joint birthday party next year and see how that goes, but only if they are excited about the idea, and would also still keep the school bd celebration seperate (handing out cakes or cookies or small presents to their school friends, however, now ds2's pre-school doesn't do birthdays, so I think we can't go for this idea anymore anyway). The birthdays themselves are always celebrated on cosy and small family scale on the exact day.
post #12 of 33
I don't think having a joint birthday party is such a bad idea if you don't think your other dd would mind. Modern birthdays where everything is about the birthday child are already weird. But chances are by next year, she'll be fine. I know kids who have really matured about this kind of thing between 8 and 9.

For Xmas, you could celebrate the 12 days of Christmas. Have stockings and a present on Christmas Day followed by 11 more days. I liked the idea of doing that when ds was younger because he liked to really check out his new toy and I didn't like pressuring him to finish opening gifts (because there was company waiting for him to open something). But it would be hard to suddenly switch to that since the kids have expectations. You could do a modified version, a few gifts on Christmas followed by a few days with one gift each. I loved when people sent packages late!

I'd still get her a new doll for her birthday. I still get ds legos although he has plenty, lol. Some kids just are collectors. Some stop as they get older and some turn into adults who collect things. But your dd is still pretty young. I'd want my child to behave appropriately but I wouldn't expect her to not want new dolls just because she has some. Not getting her one would likely fuel jealousy of her sister more than anything else.
post #13 of 33
I think that wanting things is common for kids no matter how many siblings they have or don't have. I only have one child and I have gone through some intense whining periods also. I like the Berenstain Bear books and movies for this topic. I also talked to my dd about how if she didn't appreciate her things we could (would actually because I was flipping out at the moment) give them to other people. I talked to her more rationally about it later and it really seemed to help her to focus on what makes her fortunate. She has an allowance so it helps that she can use that to buy things she wants.

I like the idea of giving her something in the middle of the year, I surprise dd with buying one thing she is really wanting in the summer time as a special treat because I want to. I do not buy gifts to stave off tantrums though and I don't think you should either. If you aren't comfortable with her wanting something new now then you probably won't be any more comfortable dolling out gifts after Christmas in the hopes of not having to hear a tantrum, and you may just put off the tantrum rather than stopping it all together.

I think some of what is going on with your dd sounds like sibling stuff and you should probably address the sibling issue rather than the need for gifts. My brother and I were constantly comparing notes, we even counted the M&M's in our bags and evened the score out if one of us had more. I believe there are cartoons and books that joke about sibling stuff like that because it is true and funny at the same time (though not until you are older and not so focused on fair). There may be books about being happy for your sibling when they get something to build that love. If you don't get suggestions here you might try calling your local library and seeing if the children's librarian can give you suggestions or guide you to a resource book that can. They make resource books with every topic you could imagine and the books that go with them.
post #14 of 33
I don't think it is fair to your DD2 to have to give up having her own birthday party just because her older sister has a fit about it. Even though DD2 is more easy going now, if your older daughter always gets her way because she throws a tantrum it will harbour serious resentment in the younger girl as she gets older.

And no way (!!) would I buy extra presents for after Christmas. To me, that only will reinforce the sequence of have a fit == get a present. I do like the PP's suggestion of a special outing instead.

If this was my DD, she would probably get one empathetic response along the lines of "I know it is hard sometimes when other people get gifts that we would like to have ourselves. If there is something you would really like you should put it on your wish list. But today is DD2's special day and we need to be happy for her." After that, any further whining would result in an invitation to go to her room until she can be pleasant.

If you haven't already, I would give serious thought to starting an allowance. Then if there is something she really wants she can save up and buy it herself.
post #15 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by marsmom View Post
Two ideas we've had tonight are:
1) Have a joint birthday party for DDs next year as we always have this intense jealousy in the weeks between DD2 then DD1's parties
2) Make sure we set aside one/some presents for the post-Xmas period as she always seems to have a big let-down then that triggers another tantrumy phase

Any suggestions on books to further the "appreciate what you have" or "others are happy with less" messages would be much appreciated???
I don't like either of those two ideas. You are sacrificing the specialness of the birthday event.

And, post x-mas let down is not a good excuse to get more presents. You'll end up giving this kid something all the time.

I'd give her less and expect her to appreciate more. It is better she learn this hard lesson now. Ungrateful, whiny people don't have good adult lives. Who wants to be friends with that attitude?
post #16 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by just_lily View Post
I don't think it is fair to your DD2 to have to give up having her own birthday party just because her older sister has a fit about it. Even though DD2 is more easy going now, if your older daughter always gets her way because she throws a tantrum it will harbour serious resentment in the younger girl as she gets older.

I really have to second this. My second child is very easy going and I had to watch myself not to give in to my first born because my second born didn't make a stink....it wasn't fair the the squeaky wheel got the grease, it was me making him a bit of a doormat. I'd hate to be treated that way.
post #17 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by marsmom View Post

Two ideas we've had tonight are:
1) Have a joint birthday party for DDs next year as we always have this intense jealousy in the weeks between DD2 then DD1's parties
2) Make sure we set aside one/some presents for the post-Xmas period as she always seems to have a big let-down then that triggers another tantrumy phase
I have to agree with the other pp's that these two things will just make it so that she's getting what she wants.

The first MIGHT work - but is she going to expect a second party? I would only do the first if you make it VERY clear that she only gets ONE party.

As far as the doll for her b-day goes, I would skip dolls for a LONG time if its causing this much drama. I would also ask her to go through her dolls and get rid of 10 of them (you said she had 15-20 - I would make her reduce that to like 5-10)
post #18 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by just_lily View Post
And no way (!!) would I buy extra presents for after Christmas. To me, that only will reinforce the sequence of have a fit == get a present. I do like the PP's suggestion of a special outing instead.
Quote:
Originally Posted by philomom View Post
And, post x-mas let down is not a good excuse to get more presents. You'll end up giving this kid something all the time.
The OP didn't suggest giving her DDs MORE presents after Christmas. She said she is thinking about giving them LESS on Christmas so she can give them some afterward. It's a pretty traditional thing to do. There are 12 days of Christmas after all.
post #19 of 33
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the great ideas, I really needed feedback on this as it has been such an ongoing struggle. She can be so greedy (there is no other word! and yes it is a horrible trait that we badly want her to outgrow) and it's not just whining, this is full-blown wailing, screaming - I can see her being almost torn apart by the intensity of her emotions sometimes - and it goes on for days, not something resolved by sending her to her room. Normally, she is a mature, intellectual (if intense) child and this jealousy and neediness just overwhelm her - and yes, she does seem too old for this, arghh. I hoped it would be better this year, maybe next. It is a contrast to her easygoing younger sister, and yes, I can see DD2 picking up bits of DD1's behavior so that makes me even more anxious to modify it.

I'm happy to say that I seem to have been doing a few things right - I love the Frances books and read them the originals saved from my childhood. She is very crafty and makes these little felt lovies for herself and friends. She has Children Like Me, as I thought that would put more realism into my constant "you need to realize how lucky you are" speeches. We do try to model generosity and talk about it when we sponsor part of a child's education or buy groceries for other families through church programs. And I like the Berenstein books for other topics so I'll have to look for this - didn't know there were movies.

To clarify, we were not going to increase the total xmas presents, just spread them out. I like this idea:
Quote:
Have stockings and a present on Christmas Day followed by 11 more days. I liked the idea of doing that when ds was younger because he liked to really check out his new toy and I didn't like pressuring him to finish opening gifts
would just have to decide and agree the logistics - maybe Santa comes on xmas but presents from Mama & Daddy are spread out afterwards so she can enjoy and focus on each one. We tend to do family trips to parks, museums and zoos on a fairly regular basis so I don't think an outing would placate the gimmes.

I just read a bit in Raising Your Spirited Child about the importance of managing expectations and how the child was told they weren't getting x to keep the surprise and then cried when they did get it because they had been disappointed and gotten beyond it and then actually getting it through them out of balance again - I may not be paraphrasing well, but the scenario was something I could envision with DD1. So maybe we need to focus on not just making the lists but making sure they are realistic and therefore highly likely to be satisfied. I will definitely look at Siblings Without Rivalry for ideas.

On birthdays, we would still do cake and candles with just us on the day for each, but I think that having a half-birthday joint party over the summer when we can doing something at a nature center or outside may work - they would have to agree setting/theme - they are close enough in age to like similar things, share some friends, and half-birthday parties have worked for us in the past to get away from everything at once in Nov/Dec - and then that present-fest is half a year away from xmas.

I try very hard not to reward tantrums and very rarely buy things for them through the year (daddy on the other hand has a harder time getting through gift shops though he still stays under $5) - we have tried allowance but I haven't done it in awhile because 1) she'd want to buy candy (which she isn't allowed as she has a sugar issue) or 2) she'd beg to go to the store the second she had enough for a small doll (that joined the pile of ones she didn't really like) rather than wait until she had enough for the doll she really wanted, and 3) that got her into a toy store where I would never usually take her so she would see loads of other things and kick off a new round of greedies.

I like LynnS6's idea of a daily ritual of thanks, sorries, thinking of. And I really appreciate GoBecGo's support and new perspective on a difficult trait. Still eager for more book recs for her with "sometimes others get more than you" or "appreciate what you have" or "others are happy with less" messages??? (I will ask at the library too)
post #20 of 33
I don't have any great advice. My DDs are 5 months, and 3 so I haven't had to deal with these issues yet. However I grew up with a sister 2 years younger than me that was and IS obsessed with fairness. I have read parts of "Siblings Without Rivalry" and I thought it had some excellent suggestions for dealing with the "fairness' thing - those parts popped because of my experiences with my younger sister. I would highly recommend reading it, I think you would get a lot of great ideas!
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