We have always been very careful about not buying things for Jonah every time we walk into a store. From the time he was born, we put things away that he received as gifts and pulled them out at different times so he would learn to appreciate things. When he got 30 toys at once during a holiday, we could not figure out how to let him have all of them and teach him appreciation and moderation all at the same time. So, as you long time blog readers know, we have always done toy rotation of his current toys as well as toy ration of his new toys.
Last year for our anniversary, Dan's mom kept Jonah for us to go out of town. She took him to Walmart and called us to say she was amazed that he never asked for one thing the entire time they were there and she almost had to convince him to let her buy him something. We were so proud of him because we had really worked on that.
Well, it seems in the last 3-4 months, he has learned to expect something each time we walk into a store. It doesn't matter what kind of store it is or even if we have arrived there yet. As soon as he hears the words mall, store or shop, he immediately asks "Can I have a special surprise?" While I am grateful that we had 4 years of freedom from asking for things, it is already quite annoying.
So, we started telling him that if he ever asks for a special surprise then that automatically means he doesn't get one. We have had to use some tough love a couple of times when we went somewhere with the full intention of getting him something and when he asked, we had to say no. (By the way, a special surprise is anything from a toy, stickers, a favorite kind of snack, things for his lunch or the free cookie from the deli)
Yesterday, I picked him up from school and told him we had several errands to run. He very matter of factly said "Mommy, today I am going to need to get a special surprise but don't worry, I did not ask for one. I'm just telling you that I need one!" So, would you have let him off on technicality? That boy! He cracks us up! He was totally serious. All he knows is that he is not supposed to ask. And, he didn't! He told!