Good things come to those who wait. The concept of delayed gratification is hardly new, but it's one that children may still have trouble grasping. Our increasingly "stuff"-focused society and reality TV make this difficult, and even foster poor impulse control. But it's parents' responsibility to teach their children delayed gratification, which will "give them a foundation for recognizing what’s of true value in their lives," says Dr. Harvey Karp. Karp is a nationally renowned child development specialist and author of The Happiest Toddler on the Block. "Even a 2-year-old can learn that there will be thousands of things she’ll want but won’t get," he says. "But that it doesn’t matter as long as she gets the ultimate consolation prize: the loving, respectful attention of her family.”
Karp recommends sharing memories with your child about a time you wanted something that you couldn’t have and how it turned out for the better. You might read stories and articles together about people in other parts of the world who live happily with much less. If you’re put on the spot when your child begs for something at a store, remind her of other things she “had to have” that she no longer uses.
For more on delayed gratification:
5 ways to raise even-tempered kids
The secret to teaching discipline
When it's hard to wait for a turn
How children express frustration