Crying Over Spilled Jelly Beans

Yesterday both kids were given plastic eggs with jelly beans by their neighborhood babysitter. E left his on the porch to go play and another kid, not his sister, ate half his loot. On our way inside Peter told E he would take care of it. That, apparently, was not satisfactory. E threw the remaining jelly beans on the floor. I did what I normally do to stuff I find on the floor – I put it in the trash. He cried. He wailed.His little sister found his egg and put half, or maybe more, of her jelly beans in it. And then gave it to him.

Did he say thank you?


Was he happy to have jelly beans again?


He was still sulking over spilled jelly beans.

But we were very proud of her. High fives and hugs abounded.

How do you teach a child gratitude? E wasn’t satisfied that he still had jelly beans when we came in the house, even though he had started the evening with none. After losing all his jelly beans he was gifted with more. Yet, he still was not satisfied. Can you teach children to be happy with what they have without falling into negative pattern like “be happy you have that! I could take it away and then you’d be really sad”.

My children are fortunate, they don’t want for necessities. We limit their toy haul as much as we can control what other people gift them. We have them determine which of their gently loved toys will be sent to new homes for new kids to love. They say the words, mimicking that they understand we’re lucky. And then we have a jelly bean incident that makes me wonder – are my kids spoiled? Will they grow up with a sense of entitlement?

Or. Maybe it’s that he’s 4 and didn’t have a nap. Regardless, we were very proud of A with her empathy and willingness to share her beloved candy with her favorite big brother.

1 smart person left their mark:

  1. halimah, 21. March 2008, 3:15

    At his age everything is so immediate and final. The gratitude thing will happen, don’t worry. It’s a foreign concept right now. The Beans were a special something that he didn’t get to enjoy on his terms…ergo meltdown. And no doubt the lack of a nap figured heavily. God knows I get cranky when I miss mine…everyday. Good for “A” and her sharing of the remaining beans!