“A characteristic of the normal child is he doesn’t act that way very often.”
Commercials, internet ads and pressure from friends all encourage children to purchase the latest gadgets, own the coolest toys and buy the most expensive fashions. This can pose a huge obstacle to parents who want their homes to be welcoming and stylish but who don’t want to end up in bankruptcy.
It can be hard to say no to your kids, especially when they’re pleading with you that a new toy will make them popular and that their out of date video game systems cause them to be bullied. But sometimes it’s necessary to draw a line, both to teach children basic values like avoiding greed and to protect yourself from poverty! Here’s when you should say no and when you should splurge.
Although fashion can seem trivial, the clothes your child wears can make a huge difference in whether or not she is accepted by her friends. If your child says her clothes are babyish or out of date, it’s worth it to get her a few trendy pieces. Focus on the big picture and get her a coat, a new pair of shoes, pants and a dress rather than buying a new wardrobe. Discount retailers, secondhand and vintage stores are all excellent locations to score bargains.
If, however, your child is asking for a new pair of jeans every week or insists that he must have more shoes than all the other kids in his class combined, it’s time to set some boundaries. Limit her clothing purchases to what she absolutely needs. If she still wants more, she’ll need to earn money via extra chores, a summer job or baby-sitting.
Most pre-teens have cellular phones nowadays, and it’s not unreasonable to get your child a phone, particularly if he is away from home a lot. A cell phone provides you with security that your child is safe, making it a worthwhile investment.
If you child is pleading for a smartphone, however, this is another matter. Smartphones provide your child with virtually unlimited access to the internet with very little supervision. He can also run up an exorbitant bill. If your child wants a smartphone, he’ll need to pay for it himself.
Similarly, mp3 players are luxury items, but can keep your child busy on long car rides and other boring waiting periods. If your child wants an mp3 player, assess whether the benefit to you will outweigh the financial cost.
Children need some media, such as video games, movies, books and television shows, to be entertained. However, excessive television watching can stunt children’s brain development, and your child doesn’t need every video game console ever made.
If your child’s whining for the latest video game console, consider getting her a new video game instead. It’s cheaper and is just as likely to keep her entertained. Similarly, your child doesn’t need an endless library of movies and music, but should have access to some. If your child’s consumption of media exceeds what you can afford, make her start saving her money to buy it herself.
Bedroom and Decorations
As children get older, they have strong feelings about how they want their bedrooms and house to look. Furniture is one of the easiest things to save money on. A trundle bed for kids, a set of bunk beds or new room furniture can all make your child’s room more welcoming. Don’t rule out online shopping for these items. You can frequently find unique items at less expensive prices.
If, however, your child is constantly asking for new furniture, new closet space and a bigger house, take him shopping with you and allow him to see how expensive these items are. If he still wants them, he can save up his own money.
Author: Christobel Edwards lives in London. She became a grandmother two years ago, and views this as an important next chapter in life, although she’s slowly learning to keep her mouth shut! She loves getting presents for her grandchild and recently bought her bunkbeds with drawers.