Teaching kids about delayed gratification?

Delayed gratification is a very hard concept for kids to understand. It is not in their dictionary. With holiday season, stores are filled with gift options and making a trip to any store with kids seems a tough job. They get carried away with the beautiful display. Sometimes it gets very hard to explain them the reason for not buying them. The situation gets worst when you buy something for yourself and say no them. You can picturize the whole scene. Right? We always wonder how to teach kid about delayed gratification.


delayed gratification
Photo Credit:Jennifer C.
Source: https://www.flickr.com

Yesterday we had gone to a store and my daughter said she don’t want to come as if she goes there, she will feel tempted towards some book that she likes. Somehow, I convinced her to come but this gave me a reason to write today’s post. It’s easy for kids to get tempted towards things they have in their wish list.


  • Respect their feeling: If your child is accepting that s(he) will get tempted then respect their feeling of accepting that she will get tempted. That sets a positive stage.


  • Teach them not to compare themselves with others: We all get carried away with the stuff or friends have. It is natural. Adults can control it, kids can’t. Simple. But as parents we know it’s not as simple as it sounds. So, it is our responsibility to teach them not to compare themselves with others. It is tough for the kids to understand it as their desire overpowers the teachings.


  • Tell them why it is not the right time: We tend to say straight No. This is not a satisfactory answer. No need to give them a timeline of when they can get it. When we say no, we have to tell them the difference between Needs and Wants.


  • Not going to the store is not the solution:  Delaying  gratification is hard..very hard for kids. By not going to the store is not going to solve the problem. So, what is the solution? Go there and face it. Try to control your desire. That’s what we did. My daughter was trying to avoid going in that area but somehow she passed through it. She stood there for a while, explored the books, but then she moved away. I know she controlled her desire. And she succeeded in that.


  • Act neutral: Inspite of many instructions and preaching sessions, kids still try their luck by exploring and bringing it to us with a hope of convincing us. They do show their tantrums but that time, we should act very neutral. Listen to them but don’t get too involved in it. You won’t be able to come out if it. So, if I face any such situation, I get transformed into a sincere listener and do not ask questions. When we show a controlled interest, it gives them a signal.


  • Be their role model: Telling kids not to get tempted and buy things and not following the rule just buy what pleases our eyes is not ideal. We have to set an example of the expectations we have from them.


These were my ideas on how to teach kids about delayed gratification. Please share your inputs on how you deal with such a situation.


About Alpana

I am Alpana Deo. You can call me a passionate writer who enjoys writing in any form.I feel motherhood gave me chances to explore and think about many such areas that I never paid attention. Writing to me is a feeling of satisfaction, relaxation after a tiring day and an accomplishment of doing something meaningful.