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Bought DD a new bike today, and she sulked

(16 Posts)
Earlybird Mon 14-Feb-05 21:37:39

It's dd's birthday on Thursday, and I took her to choose a bicycle today as her big gift. Would love to have simply surprised her with it, but needed to "test drive" various models to ensure we got the right size bike/helmet. We chose a lovely bike with girly ribbons and a special front handlebar rucksack. She knew in advance that we'd choose the bike today but she wouldn't get it until her birthday.

Once she chose the bike, I asked the shopkeeper if he had bells, and he said yes and brought out a tray of the various ones available. We looked at some of them, and then I told dd she could either buy one later using her pocket money (recently have been explaining to her that things cost money, so we can't have everything we want all the time), or that I might get it for her another time as a "special treat" if she is good (also have been trying to teach her that some things are earned/rewarded).

We got ready to leave the shop, and I noticed that she had started to sulk......eyes downcast, lower lip stuck out, the works. It dawned on me she was upset that I hadn't gotten the bell for her. I had two very strong immediate reactions - the first was angry with myself for mentioning the bell in the first place, and the second was completely pissed off with dd that I'd just spent 100 pounds on a very nice gift, and instead of an excited, happy girl.....I had a child who was pouting. I was almost inclined to tell her that if she was so unhappy that maybe we shouldn't get the bike/helmet after all.

Upon reflection I don't know if it was the right lesson at the wrong time/in the wrong way....or if I've got a child who doesn't know how to be grateful/thankful for what she's given. Also, what's the best way to talk to her about this? Don't know why I feel so emotional/upset about it. Must say that it's taken away the excitement I felt about getting the bike for her...

ionesmum Mon 14-Feb-05 21:39:26

Oh, poor you. How old is dd?

motherinferior Mon 14-Feb-05 21:40:51

I can imagine a very similar scenario with my dd1 (who was four 12 days ago). And I too would have got upset.

I think at that age they still have a lot of the self-centredness of toddlerhood and also very little concept of time/postponement. I'm not sure how much they do gratitude in a sophisticated way either.

KBear Mon 14-Feb-05 21:41:07

Rest easy Earlybird, you're not alone. We expect them to be grateful and appreciative as an adult would be but we have to remember that they are small children to whom money means nothing! I know exactly how you feel, I think most parents do!!

Earlybird Mon 14-Feb-05 21:51:05

ionesmum - she'll be 4 on maybe it's hoping/expecting too much from her to handle this situation.

motherinferior Mon 14-Feb-05 21:54:54

I do think my daughter would have been quite similar. Their concepts of time and of gratification are still very baby-like in many ways, I really think - the idea of 'you'll have it later' is very hard to explain, I find.

Evesmama Mon 14-Feb-05 21:55:46

she was 'handed' two presents and left only knowing she would definatly be gettin one...too soon for me to offer 'experience' but i think its just part of growing up and understanding that you dont always get everything you want..she had the option to buy it herself and didnt..she is young, so i wouldnt expect her to understand, but i think you did the right thing...i bet she forsets about it straight away

Earlybird Mon 14-Feb-05 22:00:59

motherinferior - when do you think they are old enough to grasp the concept of "later, if you're good"? Any suggestions on how to discuss the incident with her now? Or do I simply rely on that other toddler trait of "out of sight, out of mind" and assume that she'll be thrilled when the bike reappears (without bell!) on her birthday?

The flippin' bell was only 4 pounds, but would send completely the wrong message to get it for her now, I think.....

motherinferior Mon 14-Feb-05 22:03:36

Knowing DD1's capacity for recalling detail, I think it might be worth raising with her now.

Would it help, instead of 'later' to say 'next week' or something? It pins the concept down very slightly.

goreousgirl Mon 14-Feb-05 22:12:50

I have this battle daily, and get really cross. Try and think how you would feel if you removed all sense of social etiquette, and you'll probably arrive at their emotions - it's a pig!! Big hug for you, and you're a lovely mum with a very normal dd!!

Piabeth Tue 15-Feb-05 10:34:41

Don't think you're a mean mum at all but I do wonder if you're expecting a bit too much from her in terms of understanding the value of money? My DD will be 4 in a couple of weeks and has just about got delayed gratification sussed (we have a weekly trip to TK Maxx to stare in awe at the toy she wants for her b'day) but I don't think she'd fully understand pocket money, presumably it would take your DD a long time to save up four quid?

ionesmum Tue 15-Feb-05 20:59:29

Hi, Earlybird, I think your dd's behaviour is really normal too. I don't think that little ones have any real idea about money, even to the extent that your dd probably doesn't realise the difference in value between the bike and the bell! Personally I wouldn't mention the bell unless she does, and if she does then you could negotiate how she could get one e.g. if she goes to bed on time for a week, or whatever.

You're a great mum and dd is obviously going to learn a lot of good values from you. I hope you all have a good day on Thursday

trefusis Tue 15-Feb-05 21:12:07

Message withdrawn

SofiaAmes Tue 15-Feb-05 22:27:18

Well, if you are asking for opinions...
Please don't take this as judgemental...I'm just playing a little devil's advocate and trying to offer another way of viewing things...

I think that 4 is far too early to start teaching about saving and spending pocket money. I also think that 4 is far too young to expect a child to understand being "given" two gifts and then having one "taken away" and then having to wait for the second gift. Furthermore, I think that £100 is an exhorbitant amount of money to spend on a bicycle for a 4 year old and if you are trying to teach your child the value of money perhaps you might want to consider the appropriateness of spending £100 on something that could have been purchased for £40. And perhaps you are expecting her to be extra excited and extra grateful because you spent too much? And isn't she the one who's supposed to be excited about the bike...not you? You bought her a nice present, she will enjoy it when she's done sulking, so give yourself and her a break...

Ok, having said that....

My ds is 4 and he got a bike for christmas. I deliberated with the issues of how much to spend and how to size the bike and when to give it to him. (Note that when I asked him what kind of bike he wanted he said he wanted the kind with a bell) We went to ToysRUs to buy a bday present for a friend of his and sized out the bikes as part of the outing, so he didn't realize that there was the potential of his actually receiving one. Then I checked out prices on used bikes and decided that savings wasn't worth trouble of purchasing. Then researched prices online and found cheapest prices at site recommended by mumsnetters ( Then decided to buy bike while in America (where it was even cheaper) and give it to him 2 weeks before xmas so he could use it while we were there and the weather was good. (my brother gave him a didn't have to deal with that ) The only sulking that took place was by dh who didn't think I spent enough on dd's present (cost less than the bike as dd is only 2 and wanted a cheap dolly).

Earlybird Fri 18-Feb-05 08:32:24

Hi all - thanks for your thoughts/suggestions. I'm very lucky to have such a sensible online support system.
I think you're right that as a toddler (can I still call her that now she's 4?), dd isn't yet capable of understanding the concept of money and delayed gratification. Problem for me is that I have alot of the right ideas about what to teach her (I think), but don't have a real concept of what age is appropriate for these lessons. Don't want to come across as mean (because I've overestimated her capabilities), but also don't want to have a spoiled child who thinks her every whim should be met.

The other problem is that I have to be two steps ahead of her all the time, and sometimes I don't anticipate consequences. As I said before, once I saw her reaction to the "wait for the bell" exchange, I was mad at myself for even mentioning it as I knew it had upset her and taken away the focus from what should have been a fun/exciting experience for us both to share.

SofiaAmes - know you usually post at night, so not sure you'll even see this reply. But, thanks for your thoughtful comments, and I'm not offended. You're probably right that 100 pounds is too much to spend on a bike (bike was actually 70, but with helmet and VAT the overall total was close to 100 pounds). But, there are some reasons I did it.

First, I don't drive so wanted a shop close to home. Most shops in this area sell only adult bikes, so this was only shop around with kids bikes. Also, the one we got was the only one available in dd's "size", so didn't quibble about the cost. Only other shop in my area is Argos, and I didn't go there because I wanted dd to be able to try out the bike to figure out correct size for her (other reason ordering online wouldn't have worked...but honestly didn't even think of that option). Also, Argos don't repair bikes. My little shop will repair bikes purchased there, so that worked in their favour. Also, am told (but can't confirm) that cheaper bikes usually can't be repaired if broken because of the way they're made (plastic nuts/bolts, etc) - so was advised that it's better to spend more for a bike that has the option of being fixed, rather than junked if problems arise (though clearly she might outgrow it first!). So, long way of saying that I could have gotten a better deal if I shopped around, but there were legitimate reasons why I purchased this bike from this shop.

I also take your point about how dd should have been excited rather than me. But, I do get excited when we do something that is a milestone, and which I hope will give her alot of pleasure. And where dd is concerned, I completely agree with the sentiment that it's just as fun to give as to receive.

But, forget all that, the most important thing is Sofia - how did you get a bike back to the UK from America? Presumably they let you check it on the plane, and it arrived undamaged? That is the truly amazing part of your experience!

SofiaAmes Fri 18-Feb-05 09:41:45

Hi earlybird. I thought about the buying the bike there quite a bit...(our primary reason being that we were going to be there for some time and the weather would be good enough that he could actually use it). I was very concerned about the hassle and cost of bringing it back on the plane. In the end I decided that adults bring bikes on planes all the time, so why can't a child. We kept the box that it came in and dh disassembled it when it was time to go and put it back in the box (didn't take long). Then put a rope around the box for carrying and checked it as luggage. It actually weighed far less than any of our suitcases. We were 4 people travelling (both kids over 2 now) and had the potential of checking in 2 suitcases each, and we were no where near that amount of luggage so the bike was no extra cost. The whole process turned out to be super easy to do. I would highly recommend it if you happen to be in the usa at a time that you need to buy a bike.

I know the feeling about wanting to teach morals and values and right from wrong to your children, but not quite knowing when is the right time. I think really the answer is that it varies from child to child, but if you are moral and good as an example to them, then even if you don't quite get the timing right, they will learn the values anyway. Hang in there....

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