How Parents Can Curb Their Kids’ “I Wants”


A couple of months ago I talked about our new pocket money strategy for our 6 year old son. For a number of reasons, it hasn’t worked particularly effectively.

To recap, he can receive £1.50 per week (depending on behaviour), but if he saves his money for 4 weeks, I’ll boost the £6 he would have earned up to £10. The idea behind this is to a) try to get him to behave by seeing a consequence to his actions, and b) to get him to think about the benefits of saving over instant gratification.

Why hasn’t it worked?

Firstly, I don’t think we’ve been clear enough on the deal itself. It’s not something he really thinks about during the week, and it only becomes a factor when we get to a Friday and decide whether he’s earned the money.

We also have to add in the grandparent factor – if they’re buying the kids stuff outside of what they can get through their pocket money, then the system again gets forgotten about – they’ll get what they want anyway, so why worry about stingy dad’s silly allowance scheme?

Finally, in some ways the scheme has caused more problems, as our 3 year-old daughter also now wants pocket money (we feel she’s too young), because she sees the things that our son can buy with his money and wants the same.

Stopping Those Annoying “I wants”…

On a similar subject, I’ve just been reading How I Battle The “I Want” Syndrome over at Bargaineering. It gives some great tips on explaining money issues to kids, and I think there are some great tips in there which could help with our pocket money scheme.

One of these is by adopting some sort of sticker system to show our son his progress towards the 4 weeks and the £10. That would act as a more visible reminder of what he can achieve if he’s patient.

The article also looks at ways of curbing the constant “I wants” that children seem to being coming out with.The key to dealing with these, the article suggests, is to explain the value of money to them in terms that they understand:

When he wants something, I use items he already has to explain what it costs. We still talk about money, but I put it into terms of “That robot your friend has and you want would be like giving up five of your matchbox cars and your favorite dump truck, is it still something that is important to you?”

Another tip that we can definitely use in our house is the idea of “one in, one out”, when it comes to toys. When your child has something new, make them choose another toy that can go to the charity shop or be sold at a car boot sale. This will both get them to think about how much they value the new toy, and also should reduce the amount of clutter in your house (if anyone has any other practical tips on reducing the clutter of kids toys, such as other tactics for getting rid of them, I’d be extremely grateful!).

Kids can be very difficult to deal with in certain areas, money being one of them, but I think it’s important that we try to see the world from their point of view when we deal with these issues, otherwise both parents and children will get frustrated.

If you have any other experience of dealing with money issues with kids, let us know in the comments below.

Creative Commons License photo credit: smoorenburg

2 thoughts on “How Parents Can Curb Their Kids’ “I Wants”

  1. I don’t have kids but I do recall when I was younger the kids around me that had parents buying them like brand name clothing which wasn’t cheap.

    Now I see them grown up and struggling financially because they are so used to it.

    I know my parents didn’t buy me brand clothing and stuff so I wasn’t as spoiled.
    Although one flaw I recall is them not actually teaching me of why brand name is not necessarily good.
    Although some people prefer it and teaching kids to at least plan for it would be a better alternative.

    Also, showing the difference between well if you spend all your money on this you won’t be able to have that.

    And to a certain extent you have to be tough with them for the lesson to stick.
    They will whine, cry and complain but it is all part of the lesson.

  2. Teaching the value of money from a young age is a great idea. I was fortunate in that my parents made me save some of my pocket on a weekly basis.

    I recall going to the Heart of England Building Society (RIP) with my piggy bank and seeing the balance on my passook rising – that was back in the days when interest rates in excess of 10% were common!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *