Teach your kids the value of their dollar (and the benefit of sharing with others)

“But mom, everyone else is doing it! But mom, everyone has one!” How many times have you heard these words? In today’s consumer-driven society, kids are bombarded with ads for the newest, most advanced and most expensive electronic gadget on the market.

Some parents feel the need to give in to their children’s pleas even though it may put a strain on the family entertainment budget. Kids are savvy enough to know they are laying a guilt trip on mom and dad. When does the “give-me, give-me” attitude cross the line into materialism and create an entitlement monster?

Think back to when you were your child’s age. You probably had a well-balanced childhood without smart phones, iPads and expensive video gaming systems. Were your formative years void of imagination and creativity?

I fondly remember striving to put hotels on Boardwalk and Park Place. Monopoly, you see, was often a family affair. It doesn’t matter what you play during Family Fun Night, but your children will remember being together. Bonus points if you can get everyone to put down their electronics and join in the family fun.

How can you help your child fight back against the entitlement monster? Teach your kids to focus on what they can offer the world rather than what they can gain from it.

Delayed Gratification.

When my eldest was 6, he wanted a Nintendo DS like his older cousin. I could have bought him a new one, but I challenged him to save for it and when he did, I matched what he saved. When he finally got one, it was used. The waiting game taught him delayed gratification and the value of a dollar. Fast forward a few years. Instead of buying a Nintendo Switch, we got a used Wii gaming system. Going without the latest and greatest gaming system has taught my children contentment and appreciation for what they have.

Service to Others.

It also helps to redirect your children’s wants and have them focus on helping others. My children volunteer at our church’s senior luncheons/bingos and make Blessing Bags for the homeless. They use their own money to buy fun raffle prizes for the seniors and simple everyday necessities for the homeless. These small acts of goodwill change their “give-me, give-me” attitude to “I can do” for others in our community.

Enabling our children to strive to be the best version of who they are helps build them up and won’t leave them feeling their self-worth depends on how much money they have, how they measure up to others, or what they possess.