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Delay gratification for more appreciation

When my kids go shopping with me, I usually don't buy them things they want.

They've known from the time they were toddlers that when Mom says "No," she means it. They might have asked for something, but they didn't throw a fit and cry when they didn't get what they wanted.

Recently, I went to a department store with my kids. This time, for a very good reason, I agreed to give them each a small amount of money to buy something they wanted.

Soon after we entered the store, my nine-year-old son quickly disappeared into the toy department. A few minutes later, he reappeared with a $30 Lego set and a $10 toy gun in his hands and put them in the shopping cart.

"Andy, why do you need another Lego set? You already have too many Legos at home," I said. "I don't want you to have another gun. And besides, you can't buy these with the amount of money I gave you."

My son responded, "I know Mom, I can use my own money."

I countered with, "Sorry, you can't buy them even with your own money. We can consider it when it's your birthday. Please put them back."

My son took the two items out of the cart and put them back. Then with tears in his eyes, he walked away from me.

I called his name a couple of times to ask him back, but he kept walking.

In that moment, I felt a little guilty. I almost wanted to call him back to allow him to buy the items with his own money. But I let it go instead.

Later, Andy picked two small packs of candy for himself. As we walked out of the store, I still felt uneasy. I knew I did the right thing, but my heart felt heavy.

Then out of my son's mouth came the familiar sentence: "Mom, thank you for bringing us here."

What a relief when I heard my son saying that. The same expression sounded sweeter now than just a few hours ago when he said: "Mom, thank you for bringing us to the library."

I was relieved because my son proved what I knew without a doubt that I didn't do him any harm by not giving him what he wanted. I didn't harm his self-esteem by depriving him of things he wanted. Quite the contrary, I have taught him the lesson of discipline and delayed gratification.

As the result, my kids are more appreciative of what I do buy or do for them.

Whenever I buy them something, it can be as little as an ice cream cone in the Central Park, they never forget to say: "Mom, thank you for buying this for us."

Whenever I bring my kids somewhere, whether it's the library, a store, or their piano lesson, they usually say, "Mom, thank you for bringing us." Every day after I make dinner, they say, "Mom, thank you for making dinner."

It warms my heart every time I hear them saying that.

My children have learned to be savers, not compulsive spenders.

Not long ago, when my son had $125 from allowance and holidays, he asked me to deposit $100 into his saving account for him. Then for my birthday, he gave me $20 as a present. He usually brings one dollar to church every week without being reminded. I am very proud of him for being a saver and giver.

I don't want my kids to have the instant gratification mentality which is so prevalent in our society.

Instant gratification has affected every aspects of our modern life. We want something now and quickly. We don't have time, patience and discipline to wait for something.

In our everyday busy life, often we only have time for drive-through fast food. We don't have time and patience to make a meal at home that is healthier for our body.

We use "the plastic" to buy things we can't afford but we want now. We can worry about payment later. The same thing happens to our reading habit.

We only have a few minutes here and there to read some news and a few articles, but don't have the time and patience to read a book and really enjoy it.

Here is the truth we probably all know in our mind. The easier for you to get something, the less valuable it means to you and the less you appreciate it. The harder for you to get something, the more valuable it means to you and the more you treasure and appreciate it. The more we want, the more we have, the less we value.

If you learn to delay gratification, you will naturally have a better attitude of gratitude.