This year, the birthday wishlists for my two boys was grandiose- younger one wanted a Fitbit and the older Nintendo 2DS XL.
I was particularly not excited about their list.
Primarily because it meant that gone were the days of surprise gifts, and of simple toys. Gadgets have taken over our lives. But then times have changed, and I am old school- I consoled myself.
And I tried to reason these gifts with kids.
“Why do you need a Fitbit?”
“To keep track of steps and heart rate.”
And why do you need a 2DS XL when we have a Switch?
“To play my own single player games.”
Well, the debates and reasonings continued for days, and the kids surprised us with their impeccable research on these gadgets. After a lot of discussions, my hubby and I realized their minds were set, and we were unable to influence their decisions.
So we came up with a middle path to have kids share some risk in the new purchases, and put down rules before buying-
->Only one console in the house, so if DS comes, SWITCH goes out.
->For Fitbit, our little one needs to show us how he is using the information.
->Share their piggybank monies for the purchase, and
->They had 14 days to change their decisions.
Kids agreed to the above. So off we went and got them their gifts of choices.
While they both got what they wanted, my hubby and I were keeping our fingers crossed that within the return period they’d change their decisions.
But both kids were over the moon with their new gadgets. My little one wore an analog watch on one wrist and a Fitbit on another. “Mummy, test my time telling skills on my analog watch.” He also found a middle path of appeasing me while still keeping his Fitbit.
After a couple days of him tracking his steps, and sleep and he had a simple question to answer, “How is he using the Fitbit?”
He finally came to us and said, “I’ve decided that Fitbit is not for me. It is not fun. I’ll rather take a video game that I will use a lot!”
This called for APPLAUSE!!!! He made a sound decision!!
My older kid had to decide between our existing console- SWITCH and the Nintendo 2DS XL. His little mind was consumed by the fact of owning a video game console that he can carry in his pocket. (SWITCH is our family console.)
My son wrote on paper multiple times the essential parameters and the pros and cons to help him decide between the two consoles, and each time both the consoles were a tie.
As parents we watched him go through the decision making process. He cried at times, talked to us, begged me to take a decision for him. We were clear, he needed to take a decision while we were there to support him.
After a few days, he came to us, “I’ve decided I am keeping the 2DS XL. That’s it!”
But then, in the afternoon he said, “I’ve changed my decision. I’ll keep the SWITCH. And I am not changing my decision this time.”
His struggle to choose between the two consoles was real.
After days of alternating between decisions, he made up his mind to go with SWITCH, and since then he hasn’t looked back at DS XL again.
I am so proud of both my boys to be able to take a decision between the two things that they loved so much (or so they thought). It was the hardest decision for them, but they did it.
After the decision-making feat, both kids opted for the video games of their choice as their birthday gifts. They have a sparkle in their eyes and are over the moon with their new gifts.
As one of my dear friends says, “Different rules apply to different families!”, so the rules of our family might not apply to yours, but in the end, the real gift to our children is to prepare them for life ahead, and decision-making is undoubtedly one of the skills.