“Keeping up with the Joneses” used to be a popular phrase to describe the act of living up to someone else’s standards. While you don’t hear it uttered so often any more, that doesn’t mean it’s any less prevalent. Our kids in particular can get a case of the “I wants” at the drop of the hat. While it is human nature to want more, it can get out of hand. How to deal with the wants – read on to pick up seven strategies you may not have thought of.
If it’s something fairly costly, your best bet is to make them pay for the item. The old phrase is that they have “skin in the game.” Your child will think twice about their “need” for the item, and if they do buy it then they will take much greater care of it. This lesson also teaches them to save for what they buy; in the end, they just might decide that it isn’t worth having.
Don’t give in to bribes or negotiation. Our children can be master manipulators. They will give you the sweetest little face and promise you the moon if only you’ll get this one little thing for them. Further, be sure that you don’t bribe them to get what you want. Before you know it, you’ll be dealing with the union boss to get them to do anything.
Be on the same page with your spouse. If your child is accustomed to hearing no from you but can get a yes from your spouse, then that’s big trouble. Your authority is undermined, the relationship with your spouse is strained, and you become the “bad cop” to your child. Pretty soon, your child goes only to the parent that says yes all the time and the other parent’s effectiveness is diminished across the board.
Have them give away something in order to get something new. Children who have a lot can become greedy and selfish. Through their intentional act of choosing a toy or something else to give, they learn about charity and they get the message that their happiness is not found in things.
Be a good example in your home and follow these principles in front of your kids. Show discipline and restraint instead of pulling out the credit card. Talk to them about your own wants and how you had to deal with that personally. If you send the message that you can have something anytime you want it, your kids pick up on this and expect the same for themselves.
Send the message that we don’t get something just because their friends might have it. A child who becomes accustomed to getting everything they want runs the risk of a life of discontent. Nothing seems to satisfy them and today’s toy becomes tomorrow’s attic food.
Give in every so often. I struggle with this one, but it’s just as important as the others. If all your child ever hears is no, when they ultimately have the freedom to make those choices on their own then they won’t deny themselves. Saying yes occasionally also just might make you a hero.
Help your child in this area to understand that we can’t have everything just because we want it. If they don’t learn this important lesson, then when they become adults then they’re bound to try and live the lifestyle that they’ve become accustomed to, just because the Joneses do. Impulse spending, buying beyond their means, and excessive credit card debt just might drive them back to your basement – and that’s not good for anyone.
Application Question – Do I keep a strong boundary between needs and wants? Do any of my children seem to have a problem with this? What message do I convey to them by my own actions in this area?
Please share your comments and thoughts below, share with others if you enjoyed this post, and be sure to visit the Contact Me page to find out more about our coaching services and offerings.