Yesterday, on the way home from the store, Ryan asked if we could use one of our loaves of bread to feed the ducks at a nearby pond. We stopped, it was fun, glad he asked.
But most of the time, what they're asking is so far fetched and unrelated to anything in the near future: "Can we play with Morgan after she gets home from school?" is asked at 9am. "Can I sit next to Daddy tomorrow for breakfast?" is asked at bedtime.
It finally occurred to me last week that this is an issue of contentedness. They're not content with what we're doing or what they have at the time, so they always seem to be looking ahead to the next thing that will make them temporarily happy. During our cruise last month, we focused on the "Content" character trait card, which has a catch phrase of, "Learn to keep your 'wanter' under control." But it didn't stick for long.
I decided to try saying, "no" to every request all day long. It might seem extreme, but I needed to get them out of the habit of asking for things over and over. I told the kids about it beforehand, explaining that I would offer things throughout the day, but if they asked, the answer would be, "no." They were fine with it at first, until their wanter kicked into gear.
Now that it's been about a week, it seems to be working. Ryan, especially, is getting the message. Whenever he asks for something, I respond, "You know my answer," and he flinches. I can tell that he's biting his tongue a lot, which will hopefully transition into contentment. Eventually.
I'm usually the mom who tries to say, "yes" more often, but with our new flexible schedule these past few months, everything seems to be free game. I've told the big kids that as soon as they stop asking for so many requests, I'll lift the "no" rule. They say it takes 30 days to create a new habit. For their sakes, I hope it doesn't take them quite that long!