Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Teaching Kids About Needs Versus Wants

6 More Working Days 'Til Thanksgiving

Americans celebrate Thanksgiving next week. In our journey to the holiday we are suggesting ways for nannies and au pairs to encourage an attitude of thankfulness in your charges in our 8 Days Until Thanksgiving.

Today we recommend you try to help kids put things in perspective by determining needs and wants.

Naturally self-centered creatures, it's hard for preschoolers to grasp that there is a big world and it isn't orbiting around them. Do your best to explain that just like he does, people everywhere have different things that they need. Without being too heavy-handed, talk about how some people need warm food to eat and clothes to wear and how it is very nice when other people help out by buying these types of things.

Separating needs and wants isn't as easy to do as it sounds. Plenty of adults struggle with making impulsive purchases all of the time.

Here are some ways to teach kids the difference between needs and wants:

1. Start with a Discussion Over Dinner
Talk about the difference between needs and wants — between your need to pay for healthy food, shelter, and clothing – versus their desire for ice cream, a castle, and designer duds.

2. Play Store
While pretending to shop for the family is a great time to teach kids to think about what they are buying and why. While you are playing store ask the child, "I really want this green bubble gum ice cream, but we really need cereal for breakfast. What should I buy?"

3. Set a Great Example
Avoid making impulsive purchases yourself. Bring a list whenever you go shopping for the family and stick to it. We must think before we act and we must think before we purchase. A child has to start learning the survival skill of thinking first if his desires need to be instantly gratified or not. While foremost a money lesson, this will also later on develop in him the crucial values of sacrifice and giving way to a greater good. So, take time outs. We must teach kids to think about whether something is a want or a need.

4. Let Kids Use Their Own Money
Have conversations with kids about money without putting them on the defensive. Your teachable moments should be as positive and interactive as possible so that the child can be truly interested in the process of making a smart buying decision. When she tells you she wants something, respond with questions like, “Really, tell me about it? What does it do? How does it work? Do any of your friends have it? Do they like it? Do they use it? Do you know where to buy it? Who has the best price?” If she can answer all of the questions and still wants the item, then she has likely made a responsible, educated decision that this item is worth it to her.

5. Give Rewards When They Save Instead of Spend
When kids feel good about doing something, they stick with it longer.
Do your charges ever use their own money to buy the things they want?


Fiona Littleton said...

depends on the family. the smart family will allow the children to make purchases for things they want but don't need to help teach them this lesson.

Julie said...

Yes, the parents are doing a great job of donating old toys and having the girls use their allowance money to buy toys or clothing they want but the parents don't think they need. Many kids are spoiled but this family is doing a great job that I work for.

Anonymous said...

I know a lot of children are spoiled today and expect anything and everything they want. It's hard because we are the nannies not the parents so I feel it's the parents job more than mine to limit spending on the kids.

Lisa said...

I worked for one family that had kids earn allowances but they strove to teach them how to save a percentage, then spend wisely with the rest. To the point that if they wanted a more big ticket item then the money they wanted to spend toward it needed to be saved temporarily to pay it off.

Some parents have just said no too.

But then what I could a lot of with some parents that didn't spend a lot of time with their kids was overcompensation with stuff.