Ever feel like your child’s channeling Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? It’s no secret that kids can be extremely insistent, and many parents -- feeling cornered or just tired from arguing – may easily give in to demands.
“It’s a classic parenting misstep to indulge our children,” says Susan Beacham, co-founder of Money Savvy Generation, a financial literacy company and home to the award-winning Money Savvy Pig. She’s also a mom of two.
“Parents mean well. They want their kids to like them and they want the time they spend with them to be peaceful, so more often than not they give in, but that’s not what kids need to survive and thrive in life,” she says. “They need and often want boundaries and rules...to feel safe and in control.”
Need some help? Here are Beacham’s tips for unspoiling your kids.
Avoid Saying “No!”
For the youngster who doesn’t exactly appreciate the value in all that he has, Beacham’s first tip, strangely enough, is to avoid saying: “No.”
“Next time your son or daughter says ‘I have to have’ something, say a bicycle or new pair of shoes, say ‘Ok ... you want that? Let’s start a list. Take a piece of paper and pen, and write down the item or have your child draw a picture of it next to it,” she says. “Let them know that every time they see something they really want, they should jot it on their list and when it’s a special occasion, they can choose one of the items.”
With this list, Beacham continues, you’re teaching your kids in a concrete way how to cope with their feelings of “wanting right now”. “You’re showing them that you’re listening and took their request seriously, and teaching them how to delay gratification,” she says.
Even if you have very little in the family budget, Beacham says there is still the opportunity to, at least, plan for the item. “Think about - what in 12 months can we – you and your child - do to get to the number? Start a lemonade stand? Sell some old toys? Consider giving up another purchase that was on the horizon? That’s the beauty of a budget and you’re giving your kids a gateway to their heart’s desire,” she says.
Tie Allowance to Special Tasks
Beacham suggests an allowance tied to tasks or chores that are “above and beyond" - like helping mom or dad clean the garage, not those the child should already be doing to support the family unit like making the bed. Then, together, use the allowance toward various money choices like saving, spending, donating or maybe even investing.
“Kids should learn that not everything in life is paid for, otherwise, you rob them of the good feelings that come from doing good things,” says Beacham. “A child who is always paid for performance expects that in life and becomes entitled.”
Make them really think about how much they really want or need something new. For example, is buying a new video game worth giving up a new pair of sneakers they had their eye on? If you give them the money for the video would they prefer to save it instead of making the purchase?
“In my experience, when given a choice - cold hard cash is more provocative than even the item they were drooling over,” says Beacham. “And when they choose cash, they have delayed the purchase and their gratification without feeling cheated.”
Teach at the Market
Finally, Beacham says the local supermarket, where almost every parent has experienced a child’s meltdown, is actually a great place to unspoil your kids. “A little preparation in advance of that shopping trip will help you and your child avoid a meltdown,” she says.
“Let them know in advance that if they see something they want or need, they can put it on their list. Nothing gets purchased this trip but can be considered for the next trip.”
If you’re using coupons, engage (and distract) your son or daughter with them. “Give your child the responsibility of having coupons ready and when used, offer to give them a portion of the “savings” to put towards something they’re saving for.”
What are some ways you’ve managed to unspoil your child? Connect with me on Twitter @Farnoosh and use the hashtag #FinFit