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Am I being unreasonable?

By
WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

'Am I being unreasonable?' is a question that crosses the minds of most parents at some stage.

Sometimes it's hard to stick to your guns, especially when your children are masters of persuasion.

It's a tricky balancing act, wanting to make the right decision as a parent at the same time as keeping your kids happy.

There are common scenarios when parents may ask themselves that very question:

Am I being unreasonable ...for not buying expensive stuff my kids ask for?

Children are sponges for advertising. They see an expensive toy or game on TV and become obsessed with it. If their friends have a phone or gadget that costs a lot, they might ask you for one.

We're often talking hundreds of pounds here and it's just not feasible.

Depending on their age, try to explain to them that it's too pricey and either you can't afford it, or don't want to buy it for them.

"I think it's about setting family values and asking what is normal in our house?" says Judy Reith, a parenting coach for the organisation Parenting People.

She advises to offer empathy but not to back down: "Say to your child, I can see you are disappointed you aren't getting your new trainers, new Barbie or whatever but we are going to be doing X, Y or Z instead."

"Research suggests what children want most is your time, not something with a barcode on it," says Judy. "So don't feel guilty about not buying them expensive gifts and gadgets."

If they really want something, get them to save up their pocket or birthday money for it. This teaches them the value of money and a good life lesson, that we can't always have what we want straight away.

Am I being unreasonable ...putting limits on screen time?

The age of the child is important and so is the amount of control you can exert over them. Telling a 5 year old to stop playing his Nintendo DS is perhaps easier than telling a 13 year old girl to have a break from her phone.

"It's not unreasonable but if you're not careful it won't work!" says teen expert and author Nicola Morgan. "It will become the new battleground. So information, negotiation and respect will be the keys. Discuss why there's a need for everyone to limit phone or computer time; discuss what the limits might be; and discuss how to put them in place."

She suggests using one of the free programmes such as Antisocial, which allow older children to set their own limits for social media use.

"This is becoming complicated as adults are on their screens just as much as kids," says parent coach Judy. "How can you expect them to have self-control when you don't show it?"

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