When your children keep asking for things they can’t have – and don’t take ‘no’ for an answer – that’s pestering. If it works, that’s pester power. It can be hard to handle. It helps to understand why children pester and how to respond.
Why children pester
To your child, the world is full of interesting things. In shopping centres, they’re often at your child’s eye level. Children are also easily influenced by clever marketing of children’s products – for example, toys and unhealthy food. It can also be hard for children to understand that some pretty, shiny or yummy things aren’t good for them or cost too much.
All of this can lead to pestering – ‘Can I have some candy?’ ‘I want a toy!’ ‘Please, please, please!’
Pestering can wear you down. It can even put you in embarrassing situations – for example, when they shout out loud ‘Why don’t we have enough money to buy that toy?’ It can be hard to say no when you know that giving in will bring your child instant pleasure – or bring you instant relief from repeated requests, whingeing or temper tantrums.
However, if you give in, your child learns that pestering works - and this means he’ll keep pestering.
Asking for things isn’t always pestering. The way you respond to children’s requests teaches them important lessons about how to influence, negotiate and communicate. Find out more in our article on how to be constructive when children ask for things.
You can take steps to make pestering less likely to happen in the first place:
One way to reduce online or in-app advertising is by choosing children’s games, apps and movies without advertising. Sometimes you might have to pay a little more for the ad-free version of an app, for example, but it can be worth it.
If your child pesters or tries to get you to buy things by whining, demanding or threatening, you could try the following:
Staying calm when children pester
Pestering can be frustrating and annoying. If you feel that pestering is getting the better of you, this exercise might help:
That extra 10 seconds is often enough to calm you down.
Pestering can be particularly stressful when your child throws a tantrum in a public place. Don’t be tempted to give in because there are strangers watching. Stay calm and forget your audience – it’s likely that most will be watching with sympathy, and that they’ve probably been through it too!