Teach Him (or her) Appreciation 'N' Kindness Specifically
Clever, right? Heehee
(If you're a weirdo and haven't already read my previous post, check it out now, so you'll know what I'm talking about. Mostly because I'm too lazy to recap.)
Week one of my little experiment went very well. Shockingly well, in fact. Gavin didn't have a single meltdown over the temporary loss of his toys. He did try to bribe me at one point, but I'm actually a little proud of that. Heh heh
"I'll put up all of Rhett's toys for you, if you let me have some of mine back."
When I first sat him down and informed him of the plan, I wanted to make sure he understood the point of it, and I've reiterated that point every single day since. He's almost five, and he's very smart, but the kid still puts his underwear on backwards; it's necessary to repeat myself a lot.
It was very important to me that he knew he wasn't in trouble. This was not a punishment but an opportunity to learn an essential life lesson.
It wasn't as easy as I anticipated it would be to explain the concept. You try defining something intangible to a preschooler! Not only did I have a limited time to work with before I would completely lose his attention, I had to explain it using words he was already very familiar with. After all, I didn't want him to merely recite back to me whatever I told him; I wanted him to get it.
What I ultimately came up with is that being thankful means you are happier with the things you already have than you are sad about the things you don't have. It's perfectly fine and understandable to want more, but it's not a good attitude to spend more time and energy pining away for things you don't have than you do being appreciative of what you already have. (Obviously, this goes for intangible things as well, but I figured this was a good first step... because it's actually visible.)
*If anyone has any other suggestions about how to help explain it, seriously let me know.
So, Gavin survived with having only three toys for a week. He learned a little about thankfulness, and he was forced to use his imagination even more than he normally does. For real - along the way I found him playing actively with a string, a scrap piece of fabric, and a Christmas ornament.
And BONUS, he said he actually kind of liked it because it was "way easier" and faster to clean his room each night before bedtime. This, of course, didn't keep him from ripping the lid off of the toy box this morning, though!