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Kids today just can't WAIT

When my 5-year-old needs to use the bathroom right in the middle of a cartoon, she asks me to pause the television show.

She's also asked me to fast-forward through the commercials. I had to explain to her that it was live TV.

One mom told me her daughter wants her to fast-forward songs on the radio.

So this is life in the now generation, the land of immediate gratification that kids have known since they emerged from the womb.

Of course, it's nice that when my daughter discovered ladybugs at a park that we could immediately go home and look up everything about them on the Internet. She's a whiz at using a mouse.

But I'm afraid that with TiVo and other technology, I'm helping to create a child who won't have any patience and won't appreciate achievements. Already I notice that when we go to a restaurant, she asks why her food isn't here yet. And she's always quick to tell me when a traffic light has turned green.

So how do I make sure all this instant gratification doesn't turn my kids into little monsters?

While instant gratification and materialism has always been around, there's so much of it now that it's overwhelming to children, said Donna Bee-Gates, author of "I Want it Now: Navigating Childhood in a Materialistic World'' and a child development professor at San Jose State University.

Indeed, my 5-year-old asks to get something at almost every store. It may be something small, like a loofah in the shape of an animal. Much of this, I suppose, comes from commercials and seeing other children with similar toys.

"It's just this incredible exposure and it's almost always focused on getting your parents to buy stuff," Bee-Gates said.

She said parents need to decide how much television exposure to allow a child and then discuss with a child, when old enough, what commercials are and how they are intended to influence people to buy the product.

Bee-Gates said I could tackle my "buy me something'' problem in stores by teaching the value of money and how to save it for something she really wants. That teaches delayed gratification and would help her prioritize her wants.

Eren Hays San Pedro, a Virginia Beach, Va., mom of twin 6-year-old sons and a 4-year-old boy, doesn't even have a TV in her house, yet still struggles with the "I want it now'' syndrome.

"Tonight, one of my older boys walked into the kitchen as I was beginning to make dinner. He asked what was for dinner. I told him we were having hamburgers, and then he said: 'But Mom that takes too long. I'm hungry right now. Can't we just go out?"'

Bee-Gates also takes issue with rewards given out for good behavior. The problem, she said, is children will start to learn that the only reason they should do something is for the reward, which creates materialistic children.