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Are You Giving Your Kids Too Much?

Most of us want our kids to have nice things. We want them to enjoy life, have toys to play with, engage in fun and fulfilling activities, and be happy. While this is a noble goal, it is important to consider that there is the possibility that you are giving your kids too much.

When kids receive too much, there is the possibility that they miss out on valuable life lessons. Sometimes, you need to say no to your kids [3], and encourage them to work for things on their own.

Too Many Indulgences

While I think it’s fun to occasionally surprise children with extra toys, or a trip to the ice cream parlor, or some other fun treat, too much of it can encourage materialism in your kids, or the expectation that they “deserve” certain things because they’ve come to expect them. If your child gets a candy bar every time you go to the store, he or she will begin to think that’s the normal state of things. If you buy your kid something each time he or she mentions a desired toy, the expectation is that your child somehow “deserves” to have everything immediately.

One of the issues that my husband and I used to disagree about is buying toys for our son. My husband used to buy whatever he thought was cool, and then decide to “save” it for Christmas, birthday, Easter, or end of the semester. Sometimes, he just gives stuff to my son randomly. In any case, the result is a closet full of stuff, and a great deal of stress as we try to figure out how much to give him. The tipping point came when my husband exclaimed over how materialistic and greedy our son had become. “Why do you have to be so greedy?” he asked. “Why can’t you be happy with what you have?’

I told my husband to go upstairs and look at the closet, and then see if he could figure out why my son always wanted more stuff.

Teaching Priorities

Since then, we’ve focused more on priorities, and teaching our son to save up for more of what he wants. Instead of buying a bunch of stuff that my son might only be interested in for a little while, we’ve started putting more thought into gifts, focusing on a few things [4] that are likely to give him more long-term satisfaction.

On top of that, we expect him to buy a lot of his own toys now. If he mentions he likes something, my husband might buy it for a good deal, and then have our son buy it from him in turn. Over the past couple of years, my son has become much more thoughtful about money [5], and less demanding when it comes to toys. He has also talked about a desire to earn more of his own money to take care of the things he wants.

Giving a child everything only teaches him or her that everything is a hand out. Instead, help your child learn the value of saving up, earning money, and taking care of some things on his your her own.

(Photo: RambergMediaImages [6])