Curbing the gimmes

Friday, February 26, 2010
If you're anything like I am, you've got kids who are constantly saying "I want" or "May I have". For the past two weeks my 7 year old has come home almost everyday craving something that a classmate has. It's not always practical or financially feasible to give in to your child's every want. Rather than say "no" constantly and turn down the requests, we've implemented these strategies for empowering our children to work for what they want.

1. Keep a wish list
We make frequent trips to Target, and every trip yields a visit to the toy department. When either of my daughters wants a new toy at the store, I add the toy to a wishlist which I keep in a small journal style notebook. My girls like knowing that their requests have been noted, and I like hearing "Thanks, Mom, for adding it to my list". It's a great alternative to crying or a tantrum. An added bonus: these lists make holiday and birthday shopping much easier.

2. Make allowances
Start giving your child an allowance. A good rule of thumb is to give a weekly or bi-montly allowance that is equal to their ages. For our 7 year old, we decided to give her $7 every two weeks. However, we've made it very clear to her that she's not entitled to this allowance. She'll have to work for it by keeping her room clean and doing her homework neatly and immediately after school. If she goes over and above the expectations, there's a possibility that she could earn more.
Since they know that they'll be required to use their own money to buy toys, they no longer beg for "stuff" when we shop. Instead they calculate how long it will take to earn the money required to buy the toy and they have an added incentive to help out beyond what is required of them. This system has also taught my kids how to manage their money and their expectations.

3. Give "Positive Points"
Reward positive behavior by giving points each time your children use good manners, follow directions, are helpful to siblings and parents, etc. When the kids accrue 20 points, they are permitted to choose a small toy or have the option of receiving $5 to put towards their allowance collection. Now when we shop, and Emma or Harper ask for an item, I tell them that we'll return as soon as they've earned enough points.

It's important for children to understand that the world operates on limitations and boundaries. The sky is not always the limit. The earlier in life they understand the importance of boundaries, the better they will be at abiding by them. Using these helpful tips will enable both you and your children to have enjoyable shopping experiences free of whining, crying and the occasional temper tantrum.


Pootsie said...

Good for you!! Great ideas, too!!

Unknown said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! You really should use your time out for reading!!

I love these ideas! I want to do something like that when I have kids.