Even with COVID-19, the shops have been playing Christmas carols since October and are well and truly geared up to part you from your hard-earned cash. Children are tuned into the atmosphere and may have already begun working on that time-honoured tradition called ‘pester power’.
Pester power is defined as a child’s ability to pressurise parents into buying them something they want by continually asking for it until they win. Research has shown that after nine nagging sessions, parents eventually give in.
Before we are too hard on children, we should remember that this is a very difficult time of year for them. They are surrounded by bright and shiny things put on shelves by marketers with PhDs in the psychology of shopping and manipulation. Companies know that children are powerful consumers and influencers (kidfluence) and will pull out all stops to get what they want. Psychologists know this phenomenon as ‘pester power’ and as parents, you are probably all too aware of it.
The real problem with ‘pester power’ is that it implies that the child is in charge. By repeating the action of pestering, they will bend the adult’s will to their own – eventually.
If you’ve given in to their demands in the past then the road ahead will be much harder for you. Your children have learned that pestering you will work and they will win in the end. You may not give in for a while but they know that persevering will eventually pay off.
Here are four ways to deal with ‘pester power’:
- Remember that you are the adult and the one in charge. It’s up to you not to give in and teach your child bad habits.
- Lay down ground rules before you go shopping. Ensure they know that if they begin nagging for anything, then it’s ‘off the table’. Roleplay ways they can express themselves in a positive way and encourage communication. If they say something like, “can I please have that” then talk to them about why they want it and if they want it more than the last thing they mentioned. Ask questions to help them think about why they want it and then finish the conversation by moving on after they know you have understood. Remind them that pestering won’t work and will actually result in them not getting what they want.
- Talk with your child (depending on their age) about advertising and help them understand why some things are at eye level or may have a large shiny package or come with some bonus. An article by Brandhome.com stated; “The world’s largest hamburger chain was even lauded with the Pester Power Award because of their inclusion of SpongeBob figurines in every Happy Meal. M&M’s was the runner-up for putting out oversized candy with the launch of a new Shrek film.” Pester Power is big business!
- Acknowledge your child’s disappointment and then move on. Ask them to help you find the next thing on the list or talk about something else.
Mike Curtis, Principal