Start with validating your child's feelings.
Relate to how your child is feeling. Use words like, "I understand" and "OH, I know! I've felt like that before". Share a time when you really wanted something that you knew you were not going to be able to get.
If your child is young give them words to describe how they are feeling. Say, "I can tell you are really frustrated/ upset/ anxious/ disappointed..." or "It must be really (blank) to know that you can't have this toy right now."
Choose if they can get the toy or not, and pick one of these approaches...
1. Let's come up with a way that you can get that toy...(chores, as an incentive, Birthday money coming up, money already saved, something along those lines)
2. Let's talk about why you want that toy so bad...(open up discussion for why it is not a good idea. i.e. "That toy is actually for kids who are ten and over, so you should probably wait to get that", or "I had that toy when I was a kid and it broke the same day I got it...slinky's do that")
3. WE (your father and I) would like to get you that, but not now. Let me talk with daddy later on tonight, and see when would be a better time to get that...
NEXT, decide what your goal is.
Decide what your stance on that toy is. Decide what their urgency is. Do you want the child to have the toy? Is there a reason why you don't ever want your child to have that particular toy? Are they just too young? Is there not money for the toy? Do they already have 20 Lightning McQueen cars? From there, decide what lesson should be learned. There are many lessons you may choose to focus on when you are dealing with a child who wants many things, and feels entitled to those things. Here are just a handful of them.
1. CHORES. Lesson: You work hard, and you are rewarded. You have a way you can earn things in this world, so get off of you butt if you really want the thing. :)
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." Colossians 3:23-24
2. DISCIPLINE and RESTRAINT. Lesson: Teach your children to practice restraint, as a discipline. Here's one of my favorite quotes from Susie Larson's "Growing Grateful Kids" book:
"When we grab for ourselves because we think God won't come through for us, we miss out on a perfect opportunity to see just how good He is. When we overindulge our kids because it seems easier than dealing with their selfishness, everybody loses. And when we pamper ourselves as a way of life, we weaken our character and starve the soul."
"A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls." Proverbs 25:283. CHARITY. Lesson: When we take the time to bless other people with our resources, it blesses God. If we have $20 to spend this week, we can get one toy, or we can help the family across the street. Which do you think we should do this week? Allow the child to see that using what we have to help other people is much more fulfilling that when we try to get more stuff for ourselves. If you present the option as a question, though, and your kid decides to get the toy anyway, just know that you gave him/her the option, so you should not be mad at them if they pick the toy. If you have already decided that you want to help someone with the money, do not pose this as a question, but rather, as a statement.
"Honor one another above yourself." Romans 12:10
"God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9:7
4. SATISFACTION. Lesson: The things of earth will not bring satisfaction.
"Do not love the things of this world. Those who covet will find no satisfaction." 1 John 2:15
5. PATIENCE. Lesson: Teach your child to wait and see if they still want the thing two days later. How many times have you seen something in the store that you HAD to have, but then you left without buying it because you couldn't afford it, and an hour later you had forgotten all about it?
"It is better to be patient than powerful; it is better to have self-control than to conquer a city." Proverbs 16:32
Finally, and most importantly, practice what you preach.
"If a child sees his parents day in and day out living without self-restraint or self-discipline, then he will come in the deepest fibers of his being to believe that that is the way to live." -Scott PeckIn Susie Larson's Growing Grateful Kids book she says it this way, "You cannot impart what you do not possess".
This is the book of all books if you are a parent wanting to teach your kids to be grateful. The approach of this book is actually to teach you how to be a grateful parent, so that you can pass down genuine gratitude onto your kids. You won't be the same person after reading it...and you kids will not be the same either. For one of my favorite excerpts from her book, you can go here.