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Kids & Money: Saying No to Your Children

It’s hard to say no to our kids. We want our children to be happy, and enjoy life. At first glance, it might appear that giving your kids everything is the way to make them happy. However, while children might be briefly excited when you give them what they want, the way to encourage lasting happiness is not by constantly giving in to your child’s demands for things.

Your child is more likely to be happy in the long run when he or she learns the value of money, understands that some things are worth waiting (and saving up) for, and that we don’t always get what we want. Giving your kids everything they ask for can lead to materialism [3], and it can set them up as unable to deal constructively with disappointment later in life.

How to Say No to Your Children

When you tell your child no, you need to be consistent in your delivery, and, sometimes, it helps to explain your reasoning. Some of the reasons you can give to your child include:

As you do say no, be clear about your reasons. If you plan to let your child purchase his or her own “fun” items, talk about money, and how he or she can save up some money from allowance [4] or extra jobs to purchase the item. My son knows that we are willing to buy books we consider useful, and worthwhile. However, we’re not big fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. So, my son knows that if he wants these books he will have to buy it himself.

Around the holidays, and shortly thereafter, we have a moratorium on buying anything — even if he uses his own money. He can buy something for someone else, but he can’t buy something for himself; he already has plenty of new things. And we follow the same rules. Mom and dad don’t buy new things for fun after the holidays, either. Making sure you live by the same rules is important when saying no to your kids. Show your children that you are content, and they will be more likely to be content as well.

No Means No

What becomes really difficult is when your child throws a tantrum. Most parents, understandably, will do anything to cut off the embarrassing behavior at once — including buying the disputed item. It is important, though, to stick to your guns. Otherwise, your children will use the tactics that work each time they want something. The one time my son threw a fit in the store, he was taken out to the car. My husband remained behind to finish the shopping while my son and I sat in the car and waited. We explained that if he couldn’t behave in the store, he wouldn’t have the privilege of joining us.

You don’t want to harp on the matter, though. Let your child know the rules, and then enforce them. Once you have carried out the consequence, there is no need to keep lecturing. That might foster resentment, and increase rebelliousness.

With a little conditioning, your children can learn the value of waiting to make purchases, and learn not to cause disturbances in the store.

What are your tips for saying no to your kids?

(Photo: the|G| [5])